Red Sox's Jacobs Garners Lofty Comparisons
BOSTON—The comparisons were unavoidable.
He was a highly recruited running back with immense raw power that appeared on both the gridiron and diamond. It was only natural that Brandon Jacobs encountered comparisons to a renowned two-sport product of Auburn—the school to whom he'd signed a letter of intent.
"Bo Jackson," Jacobs recounted of the name he encountered quite a bit at Parkview High in Georgia. "I heard it a lot. People found out I played football and baseball, being a running back, the first thing you'd hear was Bo Jackson. He was definitely a great athlete, one of my favorite athletes to watch."
The 6-foot-1, 225-pound Jacobs was prepared to join Auburn's backfield, but a $750,000 bonus from the Red Sox after the 2009 draft proved too good for the 10th-rounder to pass up.
For Jacobs, the decision to pursue a baseball career positioned him to play catch-up. Until he turned pro, baseball had represented primarily what occupied his time between the end of one football season and the beginning of another.
"Most players have been playing baseball all year round for many years," Jacobs said. "I'd pick up a bat when baseball season would start and didn't pick it up when it would end. Sometimes I'd feel like I'm a little behind everybody in at-bats."
Given that relative inexperience, the Sox were extremely pleased with Jacobs' performance in his first pro season. After a strong performance in extended spring training this year, he was assigned to short-season Lowell, where the 19-year-old hit .242/.308/.411 while flashing impressive power (six home runs, 26 extra-base hits in 263 plate appearances) and a solid approach at the plate (21 walks).
Jacobs' raw power graded as plus in high school, and he put on a show when working out at Fenway Park prior to the '09 draft. Depending on how he adapts to more advanced breaking balls as he moves up the pro ranks, a best-case projection would suggest that the left fielder could emerge in the mold of a Kevin Mitchell-type.
Yet Jacobs hopes that his athleticism and desire to improve allows him to be a more rounded player who will be recognized for more than just strength. He is relatively new to the outfield, and his defense (particularly a below-average arm) was questioned in his first year. Jacobs hopes to silence such criticism.
"I want to be more than a hitter," said Jacobs. "I want to be an all-around player."
• Gerald Perry, who spent 2010 as the hitting coach for Triple-A Pawtucket, was hired as the Athletics' hitting coach.
• Righthander Matt Price, the Red Sox's sixth-round pick in 2010, did not pitch in games during fall instructional league due to a sore elbow. He was slated to pitch in the Dominican instructional league.