Scouting Mets' Prospect #14: Michael Jacobs

Could Get His Shot in 2005!

The New York Mets selected catcher Michael Jacobs with their 38th round draft choice in the 1999 draft out of Grossmont Junior College in California. His offensive potential as a catcher is the reason he is ranked #14 among the Top 50 Mets' prospects.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Michael Jacobs
Position: Catcher
DOB: October 30, 1980
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 200
Bats: Left
Throws: Right

Michael Jacobs attended Chula Vista High School in the San Diego area before attending Grossmont Junior College in El Cajon. Jacobs, not known for his defensive abilities behind the plate, had some good offensive potential. Seen more as a "tweener", a player with a promising bat but no real projectable position, Jacobs was a late round pick by the Mets on the second day of the 1999 draft and was immediately assigned to the Gulf Coast League to begin his professional career. As expected, Jacobs immediately impressed the Mets' coaches with his offensive game, hitting .333 with 4 homeruns and 30 RBI in his first 40 pro games.

After just getting some limited playing time in 2000 with the Capital City Bombers, Jacobs was sent to Kingsport once the rookie leagues opened to get him some more at-bats. Jacobs once again responded very well offensively, leading the K-Mets in homeruns (7) and RBI (40). With two good offensive seasons under his belt, Jacobs was sent back to low-A ball in 2001 but had a hard time finding at-bats with fellow catching prospect Joe Hietpas sharing time. In fact, finding consistent playing time behind the plate has been a major factor in Jacobs' development over his career. The Mets were always trying to see what they had in the catching department, playing the likes of Justin Huber, Joe Hietpas, Brett Kay, and John Wilson ahead of of Jacobs mostly because they were deemed better defensive catchers.

It was again the same deal in 2002 when Wilson and Huber were taking away useful playing time from Jacobs and it was then the Mets decided to start trying Jacobs' hand at first base in order to get his stick into the lineup. Jacobs responded with a tremendous second half of the season for St. Lucie, hitting a then career-high 11 homeruns and providing some big hits in the clutch. An injury in Spring Training of 2003 to prized catching prospect Justin Huber opened the door for Jacobs to open the season with the AA-Binghamton Mets. Still splitting time between catching and first base, Jacobs responded with a career year, hitting .329 with 17 homeruns and 81 RBI on his way to being named the Minor League Hitter of the Year by the Mets for the 2003 season.

With his career at its highest point following the 2003 season, Jacobs tore his labrum in his shoulder in Spring Training and tried to play through the injury while making his AAA debut with the Norfolk Tides in 2004. "They told me I was going to need surgery eventually so I could have waited and had the surgery later, but that would have meant not being ready for Opening Day (2005)", Jacobs told NYfansonly.com. "I obviously opted for the surgery right away". Feeling better in the offseason, Jacobs is ready to go and realizes he is just a phone call away from reaching the Majors. "I don't like to count my chickens before they hatch. But if the opportunity comes up, I definitely think I could do fine and I'll be ready to go", said Jacobs.

Year

Team

AVG.

AB

Hits

HR

RBI

R

SB

BB

K

OBP

SLG

2004

Norfolk

.177

96

17

2

6

8

0

9

30

.245

.271

2003

Binghamton

.329

407

134

17

81

56

0

28

87

.376

.548

2002

St. Lucie

.251

467

117

11

64

62

2

25

95

.291

.381

2001

Capital City

.278

180

50

2

26

18

0

13

46

.329

.383

2001

Brooklyn

.288

66

19

1

15

12

1

6

11

.364

.409

2000

Capital City

.214

56

12

0

8

1

1

6

19

.290

.304

2000

Kingsport

.270

204

55

7

40

28

6

33

62

.371

.485

1999

GCL

.333

147

49

4

30

18

2

14

30

.391

.497


* Stats as of 10/1/04

Batting and Power. This is the area where Jacobs does shine. He has very good power to all fields from the left side of the plate. Despite not being the most patient hitter, Jacobs is very adept at putting the good part of the bat on the ball and hits a lot of balls the other way. He goes up to the plate looking to hit and sometimes is a little too aggressive, swinging at a lot of first pitch strikes. Jacobs is a contact hitter and a very good run producer. His bat has carried him thus far and it will be his ticket to the Majors. He projects to be a solid .280-.290 hitter with 20+ homerun power.

Base Running and Speed. Jacobs is your typical catcher/first baseman. He has very little speed but is aggressive on the base paths. He won't hurt a team with his base running ability, but is not likely to help much either.

Defense. Many people have the misperception that Jacobs is an all hit, no glove, kind of catcher. That's simply not the case. He blocks balls very well, handles the pitchers well, and calls a good game. The weakest part of his game is throwing out runners. He's a big guy behind the plate and has trouble getting rid of the ball as fast as he, and the coaches, would like. His release needs work but the rest of his defensive game is solid. He is much like Mike Piazza in that regard.

Projection. The trading of "prized" catching prospect Justin Huber came as somewhat of a shock to most followers. The harsh reality is that Jacobs, while not getting the fanfare that Huber received, projects to be a better catching prospect all around. Like Huber, Jacobs' overall offensive potential makes him an intriguing catching prospect. His bat is potent enough to force the Mets to find a way to get him into the lineup. Whether that's a first base and catching platoon remains to be seen. Jacobs has an outside shot as a starting Major League catcher but should break into the Big Leagues as an important bench player, especially with his left-handed power.

ETA. 2006. Coming back from a year off from a torn labrum that effected his swing will not be easy. With Huber out of the organization, Jacobs seems a lock to be the everyday catcher for the AAA-Norfolk Tides in 2005. At that point he'll most likely be the first one called up to the Mets should the need for a catcher arise, but should be more than ready for the Mets by 2006 in some capacity.

Catchers

2004 Team

Michael Jacobs

AAA - Norfolk Tides

Joe Hietpas

AA - Binghamton Mets

Zach Clements A - St. Lucie Mets
Brandon Wilson A - St. Lucie Mets
Yunir Garcia A - Capital City Bombers
Jimmy Anderson A - Capital City Bombers
Aaron Hathaway A - Brooklyn Cyclones
Danilo Reynoso A - Brooklyn Cyclones
Stacy Bennett A - Brooklyn Cyclones
Rafael Arroyo R - Kingsport Mets
Luis Santanta R - Kingsport Mets
Jesus Flores R - GCL Mets


Comments

The drafting of Aaron Hathaway and the emergence of Jesus Flores made Justin Huber more expendable in the Mets' eyes this past season. Huber was a nice catcher with decent upside offensively but they already had a guy like that in Michael Jacobs. With the likes of Joe Hietpas, Hathaway, and Flores, the Mets already have three catching prospects that project to be everyday catchers down the road. The Mets also have a few other good catching prospects that project be good reserve catchers, giving the Mets' farm system excellent depth at this position.

1) Michael Jacobs - Jacobs, who had a coming out party offensively in 2003, missed most of the 2004 season with a torn labrum that effected his hitting more than his throwing. Jacobs has good power and an excellent eye at the plate. Like Huber, he needs to work on his defense behind the plate and may continue splitting time between first base and catching duties to get his bat in the lineup.

2) Joe Hietpas - Hietpas is one of the best defensive catchers, not only in the Mets' farm system, but in all of professional baseball. He continually amazes coaches and scouts alike for his defensive prowess and turned even more heads in the Arizona Fall League this past season. He has more offensive potential than he's shown thus far and is ready to prove it at the plate. Hietpas just needs the consistent at-bats to showcase his skills.

3) Zachary Clements - Like Hietpas, Clements is loved by the organization for his ability to call a game and for his defensive skills. He too just needs the consistent at-bats to better himself offensively. He hit .313 for St. Lucie this past season and has shown decent pop in his bat. Clements has good speed for a catcher, showing excellent athleticism behind the plate and on the base paths.

4) Brandon Wilson - Wilson is strong defensively but he's progressed a little more slowly offensively. He has a strong arm and blocks balls well behind the plate. He's going to find a hard time finding enough at-bats with other catchers garnering more interest for their offensive potential.

5) Yunir Garcia - 2004 was Garcia's breakout season offensively. He had always shown great defensive ability in the past and the Mets were waiting for his bat to catch up. Garcia clubbed 10 home runs for the Bombers this past season while showing good selectivity at the plate. He has an excellent chance of becoming a reserve catcher in the Majors someday.

6) Jimmy Anderson - Anderson fits in the same mold as Clements and Hietpas, an excellent catcher defensively that has not put it all together offensively. He's going to have to put up the solid numbers to overtake the likes of Hietpas, Hathaway, Clements, and Flores in the fight for consistent at-bats.

7) Aaron Hathaway - Despite just 39 professional games under his belt, Hathaway has already make a name for himself as a shutdown catcher. He has one of the fastest releases among all the Mets' catching prospects and a very accurate arm. He has a good eye at the plate and good gap power. His presence has deepen an already crowded stock of catching prospects.

8) Danilo Reynoso - Like Brandon Wilson, Reynoso has a tough task ahead of him. He's going to have put up good numbers despite not getting very many at-bats if he's to take away opportunities from the catching prospects ahead of him on the depth chart.

9) Stacey Bennett - Bennett has more offensive potential than he's shown in his short career thus far. He does have the ability to play other positions and he just may need to move to another position and it appears unlikely he's going to play ahead of the likes of Hathaway, Garcia, and Flores.

10) Rafael Arroyo - Arroyo, like most of the Mets' catching prospects, is solid defensively. He's a little too small to put up with the rigors of everyday catching duties. At 5'8" and 175 lbs, his size may be his one downfall.

11) Luis Santana - He's the lower-level version of Wilson and Reynoso, meaning he's going to have a hard time finding consistent at-bats, enough to make his mark offensively.

12) Jesus Flores - He's the catching prospect in the Mets' system that has the highest upside. He can catch, throw, hit for power and average, and a whole lot more. He has plus tools in all areas except run well. It's still way early but he has the look of a Pudge Rodriguez, offensively and defensively. He has all the tools. He just needs to go out and prove it.

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