July 13, 2013 at 1:45 AM
Brandon Jacobs to the Chicago White Sox on Friday night, acquiring left-handed reliever Matt Thornton. There had been reports in recent days, following the likely season-ending injury to Andrew Miller (who was moved to the 60-day DL to make room for Thornton on the 40-man roster), that the club was stepping up its efforts to acquire relief help. The Sox pulled the trigger on Friday, acquiring the former all-star Thornton in exchange for Jacobs, who had just been promoted to Portland on Thursday.
The 36-year-old Thornton has been a major league mainstay since 2005, pitching at least 54 innings in every season since. He made his only all-star appearance in 2010, as season that culminated an outstanding three-year stretch in which he posted a 2.70 ERA and 1.03 WHIP, allowing 147 hits and 59 walks while striking out 245 batters in 200 1/3 innings.
Thornton has begun to decline in recent years, seeing his strikeouts-per-nine drop from 12.0 in 2010 to 9.5 to 7.3 to 6.8 this season. He has also given up 1.3 home runs-per-nine this year, more than double his rate in any season since 2008. However, Thornton is likely to see most of his work against left-handed hitters for Boston, as he still holds lefties to a .173/.232/.385 line.
Jacobs, the Red Sox' 10th-round draft pick in 2009, had his best season in the organization in 2011 when he was named the South Atlantic League Player of the Year, hitting .303/.376/.505 with 17 home runs and 30 stolen bases. However, spending nearly all of the past season-and-a-half in Salem, he struggled to find similar success on a consistent basis, in part due to being slowed by a broken hamate bone last season.
Jacobs had made strides since being drafted in turning himself from a high-school two-sport athlete--who turned down a scholarship offer to play running back at Auburn to sign with the Sox for $750,000--into a true baseball player, tapering his physique and focusing on honing his game. However, despite his great physical tools, including a combination of both speed and power, he had not been able to use them to create consistent production at the plate since his 2011 breakout. Despite his obvious athleticism, he also profiled defensively as being limited to left field, although the club played him in center and right field on occasion over the past few seasons.
Before being promoted to Portland on Thursday--a move that now appears to have potentially been motivated by a desire to showcase him for Chicago scouts during a Thursday doubleheader--he had put up a .249/.327/.422 line over more than 800 High A plate appearances. As of Friday, he was ranked by SoxProspects.com as the #36 prospect in the system. He peaked in the SoxProspects rankings at number 8, last holding that spot in June of 2012.
Photo credit: Brandon Jacobs by Kelly O'Connor.
Chris Hatfield is Executive Editor of SoxProspects.com. Follow him on Twitter @SPChrisHatfield.