Jacobs Ready for the Next Step

Jacobs slugged 12 home runs this season

His second season with Brooklyn certainly proved more productive for the second-year catcher / first baseman. This year, Jacobs was relied on to knock in runs and to handle the young and rookie-laden pitching staff. After leading the team in home runs and runs batted in, and helping the staff achieve a league-leading ERA, Jacobs entered the winter feeling positive about his work.

He started the year at a slow pace, hitting just .179 with three RBI from the cleanup position in the Cyclones order. Yet, catcher Jason Jacobs was set on getting his bat going and turning the season around. As the reigning veteran on the young club, and Jacobs knew his production could help lead the team by example.

"It was a really close group of guys in Brooklyn who just went out the park and played hard everyday, but I got off to a slow start and knew that I had to do better for the team to get going," he said.

He did just that, rebounding in July to hit five home runs, six doubles and drive in 19 runs while posting a .410 on-base percentage for the month. Those totals alone surpassed the numbers he tallied last season with the club. The sharp rise in numbers was certainly noted, but added strength was not the reason for the power surge.

"I think what really helped me was learning to get my pitch and be patient. I don't think it was a matter of strength, but swinging and driving the pitch that I wanted in that at-bat,"

It was also a matter of fine tuning his swing, using less of his arms and more of his hands and wrists. The cleaner swing enabled Jacobs to get more lift and carry on the ball. The additional power was necessary as he still splits time behind the plate and at first base, and his production could be a determining factor of where he lands in the future.

"I've had coaches ask me if I would hit better if I just played first base, but I don't think I've had any fatigue from catching that affected me in the box. Catching to me keeps my head in the game a bit more than first base does because you have to be in the game every split second. It also helps knowing the ump's strike zone," he explained.

Knowing the strike zone has been perhaps the most vital reason for his offensive gains. He was much more comfortable against secondary pitches this year and he developed a more sound approach in two strike counts.

"As the season went on I got better at recognizing breaking balls, hitting the ones I wanted and staying off the ones I don't," he said. "I've done a better job on the inside corner and a better job hitting the breaking ball I want as opposed to hitting the one the pitcher wants me to."

"Also, I really just need to stick with my two-strike approach. I adjusted that approach; cut down on the swing a little bit, expanded the zone and really just kept it simple in those situations, trying to put the ball in play," he continued.

He caught more games than he played at first base, but it is still rather unknown as to which spot will be reserved for him long term. Right now, a run-producing first baseman is in just about equal need as a catcher, but if Jacobs had his way, he would stay behind the plate.

"I would say I'd rather be a catcher long-term because it's easier to go from catcher to first base than vice versa," he said. "I think playing both spots gives me and the Mets more options especially if my bat is producing."

This season has allowed the 2006 20th round pick to put himself back on the radar. Going into next season, it will be a matter of proving that he is consistent enough to repeat this year's achievements.

"I've only been in the system about a year and a half, one spring training, but I'm pleased with how I progressed this year. This game is all about consistency and that's what I need going into next year. I really want to be more knowledgeable, play the game much more with my head."

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