SL notes: Jacobs enjoying new scenery

Outfielder starts strong with Barons after trade from Red Sox

Brandon Jacobs is batting .357 in his first 12 Southern League games. (Birmingham Barons)

By Guy Curtright / Special to | July 30, 2013 6:00 AM

When Brandon Jacobs was pulled out of an Eastern League game with Portland on July 12 after two at-bats, the outfielder 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-handed reliever Matt 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 to the No. 8 prospect with Chicago and has 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 since.

"You want to get that first hit out of the way and get off to a good start with a new team," Jacobs said.

He's certainly done that.

Jacobs has at least one hit in his first 12 games with the Barons and is batting .357 with 10 RBIs.

He went 7-for-17 with seven RBIs as Birmingham, which has the best record in the Southern League, took four of five from Mobile to complete an 8-2 homestand, then had two hits in a victory at Tennessee on Sunday.

"This is a really good hitting team, and Birmingham is a great place to play," Jacobs said. "Everything has worked out really well.

The former two-sport start at Parkview High School in suburban Atlanta is back in the South and back in football country.

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.

"I think everything has worked out the best for my career," he said.

In brief

Standing out: Mobile had no answer for Marcus Semien as Birmingham took four of five games from the BayBears in the first series of the year between the two first-half division champions. The versatile infielder was 11-for-16 with six extra-base hits, including two homers, along with nine walks, nine runs scored and five RBIs. Semien, the Chicago White Sox's No. 9 prospect, leads the Southern League in runs (86), walks (82) and on-base percentage (.417) while hitting .288 with 14 homers, 46 RBIs and 19 stolen bases.

Lonely at top: The promotion of Montgomery outfielder Kevin Kiermaier to Triple-A Durham left the Southern League with just one active .300 hitter with enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting race. Mobile outfielder Justin Greene was batting .323 through Sunday -- Kiermaier left Montgomery hitting .307. Next in the batting race is Mississippi outfielder Jose Martinez at .298.

Rolling along: Birmingham left-hander Scott Snodgress followed up his near no-hitter by holding Mobile scoreless on four hits through six innings Saturday, earning his league-best 11th victory. He didn't allow a hit until one out in the ninth against Chattanooga in his previous start and had yielded just one run in 27 1/3 innings over his last four games. Snodgress, the White Sox's No. 12 prospect, is 11-7 with a 3.88 ERA this season.

Guy Curtright is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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