A player always wants to make a good early impression after a trade and Brandon Jacobs was certainly no exception.
“You want to get that first hit out of the way and get off to a good start with a new team,” the former two-sport standout at Parkview said.
Jacobs had at least one hit in his first 17 games with Class AA Birmingham after being acquired by the Chicago White Sox from Boston in exchange for veteran major league reliever Matt Thornton.
The streak was the 11th longest in Barons history and made Jacobs an instant favorite of Birmingham fans.
Jacobs cooled off a bit after he was finally held hitless, but the left fielder was still batting .284 with five doubles, two homers and 17 RBIs in 21 games for the Barons going into the weekend.
“I think everything has worked out the best for my career,” he said.
When Jacobs was pulled out of an Eastern League game with Portland on July 12 after two at-bats, he knew something was up.
Soon Jacobs found out he was being traded. He just didn’t know where.
“They told me I’d have to wait until after the game,” the 22-year-old said.
But the game at Binghamton went 15 innings, the suspense building. Finally Jacobs got the official word.
The former Auburn University football signee had been traded by Boston to Chicago for veteran left-hander Thornton. He was changing the color of his socks.
“It was definitely a surprise,” Jacobs said. “It isn’t something you think is going to happen, but I was excited. I looked at it as a good situation, a good opportunity. It showed the White Sox wanted me and liked my potential.”
Jacobs jumped from the No. 11 prospect with Boston according to MLB.com to the No. 8 prospect with Chicago and quickly lived up to that ranking after joining Birmingham following the break for the Southern League All-Star Game.
The right-handed hitter struck out his first two times up against Chattanooga on July 18 but had an RBI double in his third trip and hasn’t stopped producing.
“This is a really good hitting team, and Birmingham is a great place to play,” Jacobs said. “Everything has worked out really well.”
The Barons honored some University of Alabama football greats during the Mobile series, but that’s not where Jacobs’ allegiance lies.
He was almost a part of Auburn’s 2010 National Championship team.
“I hear ‘War Eagle!’ some,” Jacobs said.
But the 225-pounder who was a star running back and linebacker in high school turned his back on college for a $750,000 bonus and signed with the Red Sox as a 10th-round choice in the 2009 Draft.
Jacobs hit .303 with 52 extra-base hits, 80 RBIs and 30 steals with Class A Greenville in 2011. But a partially cracked hamate bone turned last season with Class A Advanced Salem into a struggle.
“I played through the pain, but it definitely took a toll on me,” he said.
Jacobs began this season back in the Carolina League and started slowly. But he hit .421 with eight extra-base hits and 12 RBIs in his final 11 games with Salem before being promoted to Portland, where he was 3-for-8 prior to the trade.
It turned out the White Sox had been looking at Jacobs for more than a year.
“He’s an athletic kid who projects to be a power bat/corner outfielder,” Chicago general manager Rick Hahn said at the time of the deal. “He’s a toolsy player with upside to be an everyday corner outfielder.”
That was Jacobs’ goal with the Red Sox. Now he’s trying to get to Chicago instead of Boston.