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May 17, 2011 at 3:34 PM

The Book: Brandon Jacobs

OF Brandon Jacobs
Date: May 13-May 15, 2011
Team: Greenville Drive

Line: 4 for 13, 3 singles, 1 double, 2 runs batted in, 2 strikeouts

Swing: Hitting out of an open stance with slightly bent knees, Jacobs possesses an improving swing that has begun to show more fluidity and less rigidness to the point of contact. Moving through the hitting zone on an upward plane, his swing is capable of producing solid backspin when he squares fastballs up and allows him to create good loft when driving the baseball. Jacobs starts his load with his hands higher up on his body and is quick using them to unleash the head of the bat through the strike zone. As a hitter who likes to get his arms extended, his swing plays up well against balls in the middle of the plate to the outer third, but tends to jam himself on offerings running inside. Due to the upward path of his swing and his penchant to lead the bat through the strike zone with his arms, Jacobs is especially susceptible to fastballs on the inside corner and has trouble getting the sweet part of the barrel on them consistently. As he continues to rise through the ranks of the Red Sox organization, he will need to work on pulling his hands inside the baseball and using his hips to clear out pitches in this spot, closing this hole up in the process.

Approach: Entering the system raw offensively and without a lot of baseball experience, Jacobs has made strides improving this aspect of his game. With a concerted effort to track pitches and look for offerings in spots he can drive the ball, he has been going deeper into counts and been willing to take strikes in tough spots, while also cutting down on the instances of chasing pitches in hitter’s counts. Able to pick up the spin of breaking balls out of pitcher’s hands much better this season, Jacobs is less out on his front foot when attacking these offerings and more fluid transferring his weight during his stride. An aggressive hitter by nature, he does have a tendency to chase elevated fastballs away from him, and given the makeup of his swing, he has a tough time getting his hands above the baseball when trying to hit these offerings. For Jacobs to continue to mature with his approach and prevent pitchers from working him in this spot, especially ahead in the count, he will need to improve with his discipline to not offer at these pitches and recognize more quickly that they are too elevated for him to handle.

Take: A former football player in high school and running back recruit with Auburn, Jacobs turned down the chance to play football at Auburn to sign with the Red Sox. He carried more weight last season and still looks like a football player, but he has trimmed down some in his upper body and has begun to evolve physically into looking more like a baseball player. Jacobs is still learning how to play left field and does not get great reads off the bat, tending to freeze first at contact, but with continued experience seeing balls off the bat, he can round into an adequate left fielder. As the weight has dropped from his chest and shoulders and he has lost some of his stiffness, his throws have been getting better velocity and he is less restricted with his release. Jacobs’ ball got much better carry to the bases and didn’t tend to die upon its approach as it did last season with the Lowell Spinners.

Jacobs’ calling card at the plate is his top-flight power potential and his projection at the major league level relies heavily on him continuing to learn how to tap into it. With a fluid swing and strong wrists, he generates very easy power and has been improving with expanding his hot zones via his work polishing off his approach. Having about average bat control and a long swing, Jacobs can be expected to strike out a more frequent clip, but he produces the type of contact to profile as a slightly above-average hitter for average if his selectiveness can continue to make gains and his pitch recognition trends on its current path. He has been noticeably trying to look up the middle and to right field, while being consciously working to keep his hips from opening too soon. The key to Jacobs’ future development is how well he can adjust his swing to get to balls on the inner third of the plate. Dangerous on balls outside and over the plate, more advanced pitchers will look to constantly bust him inside if he doesn’t prove to be able to drive balls in this area. Able to take advantage of mistakes from opposing hitters and also shoot balls running away from him to right field, Jacobs can become a legitimate power threat at the plate as he reaches the upper levels of the system by closing up this hole. Given his strength and how he lifts the ball, he can project to hit 25 home runs or more in his peak seasons. A high-ceiling player and very raw when entering the system, Jacobs has begun to look more and more like a baseball player making strides honing his tools into the beginnings of a more polished package.