Good thing we got our Top 25 Prospects out the door this morning because there is already a new face to add to the list.
Longtime White Sox reliever Matt Thornton was traded with cash to Boston for 22-year-old outfielder Brandon Jacobs in what is the first of a slew of expected trades for the White Sox before the end of July.
So who is Jacobs?
He was a 10th round draft pick out of a Georgia high school in the 2009 draft. Jacobs signed for well above slot money at $750,000, which was slot money for a late supplemental pick that year. Jacobs was a former football prospect and signed for big money to take him away from his Auburn football commitment. Baseball America said in their draft database that he wasn’t even expected to play baseball at Auburn before signing with the Red Sox.
Jacobs isn’t all that different from a number of other athletic, toolsy outfield prospects in the system. He is of the big power variety. He has decent speed, but he’s only adequate in left field. He doesn’t have big range and his arm isn’t very strong, although he has improved across the board since he was drafted and has trimmed down since his football days.
All of his value comes from his bat. He is very strong thanks to his frame (6-1, 225) and has good bat speed. However, other than his breakout 2011 season (.303/.376/.505 in Low-A at age 20) he hasn’t been a standout. A hamate injury in 2012 bothered him when he was in High-A, and he saw a drop in all of his numbers (.252/.322/.410).
The Red Sox just promoted him from High-A, where he was hitting .244/.334/.440. He played his third game with AA Portland Friday night and was pulled after two at-bats.
He walks a decent amount and has a respectable K rate of 26.3% since 2012. It’s not ideal, but it’s not as alarming as some of the other aforementioned outfield prospects already in the system, and he is a power hitter so it’s forgivable.
Based on Jacobs’ offensive tools and upside, he probably ranks ahead of current White Sox prospect Keon Barnum, who has a similar offensive profile, but is far more raw. He hasn’t dominated the minors in the past year and a half, but if he gets going his upside is nearly as big as anyone in the system.