Brett Jacobson thought it was just going to be a normal Monday. He would get some throwing in and then shag flies during batting practice for his Lakeland Tigers of the Florida State League.
Then he was summoned to the office of the Tigers’ Director of Player Development.
“I thought I was in trouble, then he told me I got traded. My mind just kind of went blank for about ten minutes. Then I just said goodbye and good luck to everyone. The next morning I got in the car and drove 15 hours to Maryland.
“I’m real excited though, still am real excited. I’m looking forward to this new opportunity.”
The 22-year-old right hander, a fourth-round draft pick in 2008 out of Vanderbilt, was traded that day by the Tigers to the Orioles.
“I asked who I got traded for and they said Aubrey Huff. I said, ‘Who else got traded with me?’ That didn’t sound right to me. I didn’t think I’m worth getting traded straight up for a big leaguer. But it’s nice to know an organization thinks highly of you.”
After the deal, the righty relief pitcher reported to the Frederick Keys of the Carolina League.
After being drafted last summer, Jacobson went 2-2, 1.52 in 21 games with West Michigan of the Midwest League.
This year at Lakeland, Jacobson was 1-3 with 6 saves and an ERA of 3.74. In 35 games, he pitched 55 1/3 innings, giving up 51 hits with 17 walks, 44 strikeouts and a batting average against of .243.
“I throw pretty much straight over the top,” Jacobson said. “It’s a different look than a lot of other guys. My fastball usually is around 92 to 95. I throw the fastball a lot and mix in the curve; it’s a pretty big speed difference from my fastball. I mix in the change to lefty hitters and try to get some down action from it.
“With the Tigers, I threw mostly fastballs. I’ve pitched just once here, but I’ve noticed the Orioles have a different approach. I didn’t get much of a chance to work on my off speed stuff with the Tigers. But I threw my off speed here, which is good for me because that’s what I need to work on.”
Jacobson has now pitched twice with Frederick, taking the loss each time. He’s allowed three runs in his first 3 1/3 innings with the Keys.
Jacobson throws the basic pitches of fastball, curve and changeup and says he prefers to pitch in relief because “it fits my personality better.”
He says his fastball is clearly his best pitch but he continues to work to perfect the others.
“They are a little bit inconsistent. But with more time and throwing them in the game, I should be able to refine them pretty well.”
Jacobson is from Carefree, Arizona and, after a great career at Cactus Shadows High School, was named Arizona’s Player of the Year in 2005.
His hometown team, the Diamondbacks, then selected him in round 11 of the draft, but he did not sign.
“I wanted to go to college plus I wasn’t ready yet for professional ball either physically or mentally. It was the right decision, you learn so much and mature in college.”
So it was off to Vanderbilt where he spent some time starting and some as a closer. In three seasons there he went a combined 10-7, 3.92 with five saves.
“I had an up and down career there. But I learned a ton about baseball and learned from other people. I played with David Price at Vandy.”
Now, Jacobson may be better positioned to move up the minor league ladder and someday make the Majors with the Orioles after the trade.
“I have absolutely no idea. I would hate to suggest that. I try not to think about that. My main goal is just to do well and let the rest take care of itself.”
When Jacobson got to Frederick he saw at least one familiar face in the clubhouse. He had played against catcher Caleb Joseph in college.
Back in Arizona, he played on some of the same summer league teams with the O’s Brian Matusz. His parents and Matusz’s parents still attend the same church.
Jacobson was scheduled to go to instructional league with the Tigers. He says he’s not yet sure if the O’s have the same plans for him.
For now, he’s just excited to be with his new organization and hoping to use that big fastball to show his new coaches what he can do.