Image (1) logo.jpg for post 809

Red Sox prospect has eye on BCS title game


We don’t do a whole lot on college football here at HBT — for obvious reasons — but this story from’s Peter Gammons was too good to pass up.

Gammons writes a nice profile on Red Sox prospect Brandon Jacobs, who committed to play football at Auburn before his senior year of high school in Liburn, Ga., before deciding – like many of us in this space – that baseball was his true love. Jacobs, who at 6-1, 225, was called a “tailback in a fullback’s body,” could have been playing behind Cam Newton in Monday night’s championship game against Oregon. Instead, he’ll be watching the game in television.

“I have no regrets,” Jacobs said. “I don’t miss [football]. I love baseball, I had a great experience playing in Lowell [New York-Penn League] this past summer, where the ballpark was packed every night.

“A lot went into my decision to sign with Boston. I thought a lot about the longevity of the career, the injury risk. I really thought baseball was what I was going to play in the long run, and why wait four years to get started. I know I have a long way to go, but I’m very pleased with the decision I made.”

Smart kid, though it probably didn’t hurt that he signed a deal in the $800,000 range, well above slot for a 10th round draft pick.

Another interesting part of Gammons’ story is that the Red Sox employ a consistent strategy of drafting multi-sport stars – players other teams are scared to waste picks on – then luring them to baseball with above-slot signing bonuses. They did it with Jacobs, as well as Casey Kelly, Ryan Kalish and Will Middlebrooks, all of whom had football scholarships in hand when they signed with Boston.

As far as Jacobs and his baseball skills go, Gammons quotes one scout as comparing him to a young Kevin Mitchell, raw but athletic. In 72 games in the low minors, he has a .242/.310/.404 line with six home runs and 31 RBIs. He has a long way  to go, but does not regret his decision to play baseball.

“I’ll be watching [Monday],” said Jacobs, “but, to be honest, I’m more excited about Spring Training. I’m a baseball player. I’d love to be there in Arizona, but I’d rather be playing in Boston someday.”

You can follow Bob on Twitter, and get all your HBT updates here.

Maybe Alcides Escobar shouldn’t bat leadoff

Alcides Escobar
1 Comment

Alcides Escobar finished with a .292 OBP this year. He came in at .246 in 117 at-bats in August and .257 in 109 at-bats between September and October, so he wasn’t exactly flying high entering the postseason. Still, that didn’t stop Ned Yost from putting him into the leadoff spot for Thursday’s Game 1 against the Astros.

Yost finally did reconsider hitting Escobar first in September. It took Alex Gordon‘s return to health, plus the previous addition of Ben Zobrist to the lineup, in order to make that happen. However, it didn’t stick. Escobar hit ninth in each of his starts from Sept. 7-26, batting .236 with a .276 OBP during that span. With five games left to go, he was suddenly returned to the leadoff spot. The Royals went on to win all five games. Yost saw it as a sign, even though Escobar went 5-for-22 with no walks in those games.

Escobar went 0-for-4 in Thursday’s loss to the Astros. He did not swing at the first pitch of the game, which probably explains the defeat.

It’s been difficult to argue with Yost since last year’s World Series run and this year’s incredible run out of the game. The blind spot with Escobar, though, gets rather infuriating. One can defend hitting him leadoff against the Astros’ lefties. His career OBP against southpaws is .319 (.316 this year). Against righties, he’s the most obvious No. 9 hitter alive, with a career .258/.290/.342 line (.252/.284/.314 this year). He’s not a pace-setter. He’s not a spark plug. He’s a liability.

Astros top Royals in Game 1 of ALDS

Houston Astros' Jose Altuve, left, celebrates with teammate Luis Valbuena after scoring a run during the first inning in Game 1 of baseball's American League Division Series against the Kansas City Royals, Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015, in Kansas City. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

After shutting out the Yankees in the AL Wild Card game on Tuesday, the Astros beat the Royals 5-2 in Game 1 of the ALDS on Thursday at Kauffman Stadium. Road teams are now 4-0 to begin the 2015 postseason.

The Astros grabbed an early 3-0 lead against Yordano Ventura through two innings. Chris Young took over for the Royals after a 47-minute rain delay and was very effective for the most part, allowing just a solo homer to George Springer over four innings while striking out seven batters. Colby Rasmus, who homered in the Wild Card game, took Ryan Madson deep in the eighth inning to give the Astros’ bullpen some extra breathing room.

Collin McHugh stayed in after the rain delay and ended up tossing six innings while allowing just four hits and one walk. Kendrys Morales did all the damage against him with a pair of solo homers. He’s the first Royals player to hit two home runs in a postseason game since George Brett in the 1985 ALCS.

The Royals’ offense showed some signs of life in the bottom of the eighth inning with back-to-back two-out hits against Will Harris, but Oliver Perez got Eric Hosmer to foul out to end the threat. Luke Gregerson tossed a scoreless ninth inning to finish off the victory.

Consistent with their identity during the regular season, the Astros won despite striking out 14 times. The same goes for the Royals, as they struck out just four times. Despite putting the ball into play more often, the Kansas City lineup wasn’t able to muster anything aside from the home runs by Morales.

Game 2 of the ALDS will begin Friday at 3:45 p.m. ET. Scott Kazmir will pitch for the Astros and Johnny Cueto will get the ball for the Royals.

George Springer homers to extend Astros’ lead over Royals

Houston Astros' George Springer (4) celebrates with teammates after scoring a run in the first inning in Game 1 of baseball's American League Division Series against the Kansas City Royals, Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015, in Kansas City. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
AP Photo/Charlie Riedel
Leave a comment

After Kendrys Morales brought the Royals within one run in the bottom of the fourth inning with his second solo home run of the game, George Springer took Chris Young deep in the top of the fifth to extend the Astros’ lead to 4-2 in Game 1 of the ALDS.

According to Statcast, the ball traveled an estimated 422 feet and left Springer’s bat at 109 mph. Royals fans are happy it was just a solo home run. It could have been worse, as Jose Altuve singled to lead off the fifth inning before being thrown out trying to steal second base during Springer’s at-bat.

The Royals will try to answer as we move to the bottom of the fifth inning at Kauffman Stadium.