New Rainiers, Volume One: Mike Jacobs

Today the Mariners announced that they have signed veteran first baseman Mike Jacobs to a minor league contract, with an invitation to major league spring training. Jacobs is the first new player the Mariners have signed this winter who is highly likely to start the season with Tacoma.

A former major leaguer of some regard, Jacobs has spent the past two seasons in the PCL, with very different outcomes.

In 2011, Jacobs was blasting home runs for Colorado Springs, hitting .298 with 23 homers and 97 RBI when suddenly on August 11 he was suspended 50 games for failing a drug test – for human growth hormone. He was the first American professional athlete to fail an HGH test. He was immediately released by the Rockies.

As Larry Stone writes in the first link down below, Jacobs was very forthcoming and honest about the situation at the time.

The Arizona Diamondbacks appreciated his honesty and decided to give him a shot in 2012. Once he served the suspension, Jacobs joined the soon-to-be PCL champion Reno Aces and hit .279 with 18 homers and 60 RBI in 101 games. He was eventually called up by the Diamondbacks in September, logging his first big league time since 2010.

Jacobs biggest claim to fame on the field is his membership in the 2008 Florida Marlins infield: the first ever MLB infield in which all four players hit 25 or more home runs. Jacobs played first base and hit 32 bombs, Dan Uggla was at second and he hit 32 homers, Hanley Ramirez was at shortstop and he blasted 33 dingers, and Jorge Cantu handled third base while ripping 29 taters.

Jacobs has hit exactly 100 career major league home runs.

What can the Rainiers expect from Jacobs in 2013? A good question, because there is a big red flag waving in the sky: Jacobs last two seasons in the PCL were played in launching pads.

Reno is now the best hitter’s park in the PCL, and last year Jacobs had a slash line of 329/391/569 in home games. On the road, he hit a rather soft 229/335/404.

On the other hand, during 2011 in pre-humidor Colorado Springs he hit 302/386/502 at home and 294/365/565 on the road. That year he knocked 14 of his 23 home runs away from high-elevation Colorado Springs. Yes, this was the HGH season, but that shouldn’t matter in terms of home/road, right?

Hopefully Jacobs will provide some punch in the middle of the Tacoma lineup. He’ll fit in the Luis Jimenez role, but with better defensive skills. The fact that he bats left-handed is a plus, too – as far as I can see right now, the only other left-handed power hitter Tacoma will possibly have is Carlos Peguero (and switch-hitting Nick Franklin if you want to count him – I suppose we should, since his power comes from the left side).

A few Links:

  • Larry Stone has a post on the Mike Jacobs signing, in which he notes that Jacobs handled the HGH situation with honesty and candor.
  • At The News Tribune’s Mariners Blog, Ryan Divish rang in the new year with his resolutions about covering the Mariners in 2013. Among them he resolves to watch the Rainiers when possible – because the team should be loaded with highly-regarded prospects. More on this later…
  • The No. 1 minor league free agent I wanted the Mariners to sign for Tacoma was outfielder Andrew Brown – but the Mets grabbed him, and he’ll probably play for Triple-A Las Vegas this year. Look for him to put up huge numbers.
  • Two recent Rainiers pitchers who are veteran minor leaguers signed with other teams: Jeff Marquez went to the Cincinnati Reds (Louisville), and Fabio Castro went to the Dodgers (Albuquerque).
  • In advance of his upcoming Mariners top prospects list, prospect analyst John Sickels started a Seattle Mariners organization discussion. Join in if you would like.
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