By: Nick Roark
Brandon Jacobs hears the comparisons all the time. Often confused with current NFL free agent running back Brandon Jacobs, the Birmingham Barons outfielder has caught all the jokes concerning his shared name with the eight-year NFL veteran.
“I normally get, ‘Just picked you up in my fantasy league.’ That’s probably the most common one,” Jacobs said.
The Georgia native nearly became the second Jacobs to enjoy a football career, committing to Auburn out of Parkview High School in Lilburn, Ga. where he starred as a two-sport athlete. A path to the big leagues seemed more enticing to Jacobs as he forewent a career with the Tigers, a decision he does not regret.
“The love I have for baseball and the offseason and all the great things that come with professional baseball, it’s just made me happy,” Jacobs said. “I think going to school and playing football obviously would’ve been a challenge to do all that.”
Drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the 10th round of the 2009 MLB Draft, the 2013 campaign marked Jacobs’ fifth year with the Boston organization, and until June, the outfielder had not seen action at the Double-A level.
The No. 13 prospect received his breakthrough on July 12 when the 6-foot-1 Jacobs changed the color of his socks, going from the Red Sox to the Chicago White Sox in exchange for left-handed reliever Matt Thornton.
Playing in only his third game Boston’s Double-A-affiliate Portland, Jacobs was pulled in the second inning of the club’s game at Binghamton, learning he had been traded.
“The front office called our manager and told him to get me out of [the game],” Jacobs said. “They weren’t going to tell me [where I was traded to] until after the game and it ended up going 15 innings.”
The 13 innings of uncertainty weighed heavily on the highly touted prospect as Jacobs awaited news on his future. A call from Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington and director of player development Ben Crockett eased his concerns and signaled a new beginning with the White Sox organization.
“They called me and just told me that their big league team is in need of arms and [Chicago] wanted me,” Jacobs said. “From that day on it was the White Sox so it’s exciting to be here in this new atmosphere with a team that obviously wins a lot of games and has great team chemistry.”
Embraced by his new teammates, the newest Baron has fit in nicely with the playoff-bound team. The left fielder has hit safely in all 12 games with Birmingham, marking a career-high hitting streak. Jacobs is hitting .357 (15-42) with one home run and 12 RBIs in 42 at-bats.
“You swing at strikes and you try to let balls go,” Jacobs said of his approach at the plate. “That’s definitely the plan I want to take throughout the rest of my career whether it’s Double-A, Triple-A, big leagues, wherever it is. Just swinging at my pitches and hitting pitchers’ mistakes.”
The Barons’ prospect-laden lineup has made Jacobs’ acclimation to the Double-A level easier, allowing the former two-sport athlete to fit in one of the Southern League’s top hitting teams.
“It’s always good to have a team full of hitters and a team who can get the job done,” Jacobs said. “It’s great that one-through-nine can drive in runs or hit a home run or make a nice play at any given time. This team’s a winning team and it’s just exciting to be a part of it.”
While fans in Chicago might currently first think of Brandon Jacobs the NFL running back, chances are in the coming years they will recognize Brandon Jacobs as left the Major League outfielder.
To stay current with all the latest news, follow Smokies on Radio on Twitter and like the Smokies on Radio Facebook page. Nick Roark is a Broadcast & Media Assistant for the Smokies Radio Network. You can follow him on Twitter here: NickRoark4.