Showcase | Story | 6/15/2016

Jacobsen, PG Nat fast friends

Jeff Dahn         Jheremy Brown        
Photo: Joy Absalon

Also see: Ryan Vilade feature

FORT MYERS, Fla. – It seems completely appropriate that standout Acworth, Ga., 2017 outfielder Kyle Jacobsen celebrated his 18th birthday on June 1, just one day after wrapping up another PG WWBA tournament appearance wearing the uniform of the East Cobb Yankees.

The event was the 18u PG WWBA Memorial Day Classic at LakePoint and it was a fairly typical showing for both the Yankees and for Jacobsen. The Yankees won their pool championship with a 3-0 mark before uncharacteristically bowing out after a loss in the quarterfinals of the playoffs, and Jacobsen once again did enough to earn all-tournament recognition … the ninth time in his Perfect Game career.

The scenery and the circumstances are quite different for Jacobsen this week as he finds himself in Southwest Florida taking part in the 16th annual Perfect Game National Showcase at jetBlue Park, the most respected showcase event for rising seniors in all of amateur baseball. It’s a slight shift of gears for the tournament-oriented Jacobsen, but he considers just receiving an invitation to the PG National a real feather in his cap.

“This is something that I’ve been working toward for a while,” Jacobsen said Wednesday morning before taking part in his workout session at jetBlue. “This is a very prestigious event and I’m very happy to be a part of this great group of guys that are out here; there are a lot of talented players. I’m just real excited to be given the opportunity to do things and be able to showcase my talents in front of all these people.”

This is the 20th PG event the 6-foot, 185-pound right-handed hitting and left-handed throwing Jacobsen has attended but only his second showcase. He was here at jetBlue Park a year ago this week for the 2015 PG Jr. National Showcase and earned a perfect 10.0 scout grade and a spot on the Top Prospect List following his performance. His scouting report from that event read, in part:

“(Jacobsen has a) large, athletic build with a lean, projectable frame that’s full of quick-twitch muscle and athleticism.” … A primary centerfielder, he showed “full arm action and gets on top of the ball well, fields out front and shows present arm strength with more coming.” … He shows an “easy, fluid swing with consistent feel for the barrel, shows nice rhythm at the plate and strength to the pull side when squared. … High end tools on both sides of the ball.”

Performances and scouting reports like those from the PG Jr. National are two of the reasons Jacobsen has risen to No. 9 in PG’s class of 2017 national prospect rankings. Another reason is his almost predictable all-tournament team performances, and he’ll get his next opportunity at the 18u PG WWBA National Championship at LakePoint June 18-24, playing for the East Cobb Yankees.

2013 14u PG World Series (6-4-3 DP Academy); 2014 PG High School Showdown (Allatoona Buccaneers); 2014 15u PG WWBA National Championship (6-4-3 DP Cougars 15u); 2014 14u/15u PG/EvoShield Classic (6-4-3 DP Cougars); 2015 EvoShield High School Invitational (Allatoona Buccaneers)

The all-tournament recognition began coming in in the summer of 2013, before Jacobsen’s freshman year in high school. He will be a senior this fall at Allatoona High School in Acworth, and he has committed to the University of South Carolina.

He really can’t explain why he has a proclivity for earning all-tournament honors at Perfect Game tournaments, but feels like it has more to do with the success he and his East Cobb Yankees teammates enjoy more than anything he does in terms of rising to the occasion at championship events.

“I really wouldn’t say that I elevate my game that much. I honestly think it’s more of going out there and competing as hard as I can,” Jacobsen said. “It doesn’t matter if we’re winning 20-to-nothing or we’re playing in a game where it’s tied going into the bottom of the seventh inning, I always play hard and I try to prove myself every time I go out there.”

After starting his travel ball career with the Marietta, Ga.-based 6-4-3 DP organization – a program he had nothing but praise for – he decided to join the Marietta-based East Cobb Yankees organization last summer. The Yankees won 18u PG WWBA National Championships in 2012 and 2015 and won Connie Mack World Series Championships seven times since 1999, including titles in 2013 and 2015. They come into this summer ranked No. 1 in PG’s 18u National Travel Team Rankings.

“Coach (James) Beavers is a legendary summer baseball coach and he does everything the right way,” Jacobsen said of the East Cobb Yankees skipper. “It’s different from everybody else because he treats you almost like you’re a professional and he’s getting you ready for that next step in your life, whether it be in life in general or as a baseball player. You just feel like you’re prepared more for whatever life throw at you.”

2015 18u Perfect Game-East Cobb Invitational (East Cobb Yankees); 2015 18u PG WWBA National Championship (East Cobb Yankees); 2015 PG WWBA Southeast Qualifier #1 (East Cobb Yankees); 2016 18u PG WWBA Memorial Day Classic at LakePoint.

When asked to look back on his TPL performance at last year’s PG Jr. National and assess what he took away from that experience, Jacobsen painted with a pretty broad brush:

“I feel like I found some things I needed to work on, and there’s never just one thing,” he said. “I’ve been trying to improve everything in my game and make some little tweaks here and there, whether it be throws from the outfield or if my timing’s off at the plate. It’s just knowing what I have to do to change and become the best player I can be.”

Like every player here, Jacobsen is fully aware of the more than 100 scouts and other assorted talent evaluators who will populate the jetBlue Park stadium seats and air-conditioned suites throughout the PG National’s six-day run; despite that, thoughts of the 2017 MLB First-Year Player Draft don’t seem to occupy a very big room in his mind. When he talks about the pro scouts watching him perform, he talks about a time period that extends beyond this summer and next spring.

“They’ll be able to see how I grow from now all the way through my junior season in college,” Jacobsen said. “I’m really excited to go to South Carolina, it’s just an awesome school. Coach (Chad) Holbrook is a first-class guy, Coach (Sammy) Esposito and all the guys out there.

“They have first-class facilities, and I didn’t see any other schools that had anything that much better than them. And the character-building that they do – every guy (in the program) respects the game, he respects his teammates and he respects his opponents. They’re just all great people.”

It will be less than a week before Jacobsen can hope to add to his trophy case of PG all-tournament selections like those listed above in italics. In the meantime, he can pretty much rest assured that his name is likely to be included on any Top Prospect List that might come out of the PG National after an impressive morning workout session.

He recorded a 91 mph throw from the outfield (tied for the 7th best effort with more prospects scheduled to work-out Thursday and Saturday); a 6.49-second 60-yard dash effort (6th best) and a 1.43-second 10-yard split (best of the day). He also had an impressive BP session, with one PG scout calling Jacobsen "one of the most polished hitters in the 2017 class."

It’s worth noting that nationally No. 10-ranked prospect Jordan Adell recorded first-day bests with a 97 mph throw from the outfield (Andres Santana also threw 97) with a 6.19-second 60-yard dash, just off the event record of 6.17-seconds set by Alonzo Jones in 2014.

“I really just want to leave here with some great memories,” Jacobsen said. “Everything I do is a blessing and it’s a great opportunity for me and my family. Everything I do here represents me, my coach, my parents and I want to make sure people have good thoughts about me; I want people to like who am and like me as a player.”

National Showcase Day 1 Standouts

Here are a few of the players that stood out on Day 1 of the 2016 PG National Showcase. To view the workout results and read more about the participating players in the scout blogs please click on the links supplied below.

Workout Results | Scout Blogs

The buzz heading into the Perfect Game National Showcase of course is high every summer as it not only brings together a majority of the top players in the country, but also unofficially kicks off the summer circuit. While the talent in attendance is deep, there was a little extra hype surrounding California prep Hunter Greene and it’s safe to say he delivered. Adjectives such as “smooth,” “pure,” “plus,” “effortless” were muttered frequently and encompass just what Greene put on display Wednesday afternoon. He began the showcase by displaying plus defensive skills as shortstop showing exceptional footwork and extra-soft hands. The infield round was proceeded by perhaps the loudest and easiest round of batting practice as the UCLA commit remained balanced and showed an abundance of fluidity to his righthanded swing, launching several balls over the Green Monster. And just for good measure Greene jumped on the mound, where his future may just be the brightest, and ran his fastball into the mid-90s while showcasing a loose and fluid arm action and a hard-biting slider in the low-80s.

In what felt like a bit of déjà vu while sitting under the Perfect Game tent behind home plate, South Carolina commit Kyle Jacobsen (as profiled above) made a play eerily similar to one he made at last year’s Junior National. With a quick first step Jacobsen came racing in on a shallow flare and left his feet to get fully extended, robbing the batter of a base knock and nearly doubled up the runner at first base who had wandered too far off the bag.

The physical growth that middle infielder Noah Campbell has seen in terms of development from last fall to this summer are more than noticeable and the added strength plays very well in game. He also appears to be focusing almost exclusively on his swing from the left side of the plate as opposed to switch-hitting, as all his in-game reps and batting practice swings came as such. After showing both strength off the barrel and fast hands to help whip the barrel through the zone, Campbell smacked a hard line drive into left-center field his first at-bat, which he stretched into a double, before shooting a 93 mph fastball from Trey Dillard back up the chute for a single.

We might only be through four teams worth of workouts but if you were to pick a player and throw him into a professional lineup right now in terms of physicality then Terriez Fuller just may be your guy. Listed at a very believable 6-foot-4, 220-pounds Fuller showed off perhaps the biggest and loudest raw power of the day as he made the right field fence of jetBlue look as though it was surrounding the infield dirt with just how far some of his home runs were clearing. Simply put, you just don’t see balls hit were Fuller seemed to launch them and did so rather easily.

Both Tommy Mace and Caden Lemons are two righthanded arms who are listed at 6-foot-6 and project extremely well over the next 12 months leading up the next June’s draft. If you blinked you may have missed the outing of Mace, a Kentucky commit, as he needed roughly a baker’s dozen to breeze through his two innings, pounding an effortless upper-80s fastball downhill while showing a feel for his secondaries. Similarly Lemons, who is committed to Coach Mike Bianco at Ole Miss, filled up the lower third of the strike zone with a fastball that routinely hit 91 mph with plenty more on the way while showing a feel to spin the ball in the low-70s.

Bubba Thompson is a player who is just beginning to get on the national scene though he’s made up for “lost” time, already committing to play baseball at Auburn and turned in a solid day one at the showcase. An established football player who could have played at the next level had he decided to, Thompson put his blazing foot speed on display with a 6.35 60-yard dash time and then proceeded to find the barrel in each of his three times to the plate in game action with fluidity to his swing path.

Native Floridian and future Florida Gator, 2017 shortstop Brady McConnell, stole the show in several ways on Day 1 of the PG National. He's supremely athletic and projectable, with tons of quick-twitch athleticism and raw speed to help impact his defensive game. With clean actions, range to both sides and plenty of arm strength he's likely to stick at the shortstop position. Add to that his high-level bat speed at the plate with excellent barrel control and developing strength, and he projects to hit for both average and power at the next level as well.

Highly ranked in the class of 2017 coming in to the event, outfielder/righthanded pitcher Jordon Adell showed extremely loud tools in the workout portion of Wednesday’s action. With his typical elite level athleticism, Adell ran an absolutely blistering 6.19 seconds 60-yard dash, and that type of speed plays both in the outfield and on the bases. He also showed off his plus arm, throwing 97 mph from the outfield. In batting practice, Adell showed off plus bat speed with lots of raw strength and raw power, driving the baseball into the air deep with excellent carry and jump. His raw tools are absolutely undeniable.

Towards the end of Day 1, righthander and Florida State commit C.J. Van Eyk took the mound and quickly got the attention of everyone in attendance. With a highly projectable body and present feel for three very good pitches, Van Eyk has legitimate upside just under a year from draft day. He worked at 90-92 mph and peaked at 93, working downhill with good plane and solid command down in the zone. His curveball was extremely sharp with hammer, two-plane break, and he also showed excellent feel for his changeup with big deception and fading action.

Evaluators often look for prospects who try to hit the baseball as hard as they possibly can on every swing, something we refer to as "intent." Zachary DeLoach of Lewisville, Texas had all sorts of intent on Wednesday, to go along with excellent bat speed, raw power and advanced barrel control. His batting practice was very impressive, driving the baseball deep and striking it extremely hard with consistency, and the results are above-average raw power that still projects. He's also a good runner, clocking a 6.70 60-yard dash, and profiles extremely well as a power-hitting outfielder who can play all three positions, where his above average arm strength is a weapon as well.

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