January 24, 2012 at 7:00 AM
BOSTON, MASS. -- It was a common refrain among those who saw Brandon Jacobs in his first taste of full-season ball after having seen him the season before at Lowell. It was offered as if no further explanation was needed.
“He looks more like a baseball player.”
Now, that phrase could take on a number of meanings. It could refer to Jacobs’ slimmer physique. A running back in addition to an outfielder in high school, it is well-reported at this point that Jacobs had a scholarship offer to tote the rock for Auburn if he had not signed with the Sox. Anyone who saw Jacobs in Greenville last season that had seen him the season before saw a marked change in his body, as he brought a slimmer, more toned physique into the 2011 campaign. The change was intentional.
“(This offseason), all the heavy weights, I let them go and just tried to get in (baseball) shape, lose a couple pounds,” he said. “Baseball’s a game of speed, especially playing the outfield, and going through a full season will definitely shape your body right.”
Of course, the whole “looking like a baseball player” label could easily apply to his on-field skills as well. Jacobs earned South Atlantic League Player of the Year honors after a stellar campaign, hitting .303/.376/.505 with 17 home runs and 30 stolen bases in his age 20 season. He at least partially attributed his success to playing left field in a Greenville lineup that boasted an impressive number of the system’s breakout players, including right fielder Bryce Brentz, second baseman Sean Coyle, shortstop Xander Bogaerts, and first baseman Miles Head, all of whom were named SoxProspects.com All-Stars along with Jacobs.
“I’ve always had the mentality to get better, but when they’re doing great, everybody else wants to do great, and everybody else wants to get on that bandwagon,” he said. “I think that played a part in everyone’s year this year.”
Still, Jacobs is not one to rest on his laurels. His game may have taken leaps forward in his two-plus years in this system, but he plans on targeting areas of his game that need improvement this offseason.
“I just started throwing – I want to get my arm stronger and become an all-around outfielder,” he said. “I had the speed in the outfield last year, making some plays, but I want to be an all-around outfielder with a great arm, so I’m doing some long tossing this offseason to strengthen that up.”
If he keeps the work up, expect the comments from those who see him play to change to something even better, like, “He looks like a major leaguer.”