As a 25-year-old first baseman, Mike Jacobs witnessed one of the Marlins’ rebuilding efforts firsthand.
In 2006, the second-year pro helped form the nucleus of the team’s youth movement, along with rookies Hanley Ramirez, Dan Uggla and Anibal Sanchez.
Thirteen years later, Jacobs now plays another vital role in a Miami rebuilding process — albeit in a different role and location. After guiding the team’s short-season A affiliate the past two years, Jacobs has been promoted to Low-A as the Clinton LumberKings’ new manager.
Although Iowa doesn’t carry the same flashy appeal as Miami, the Hawkeye State may be the epicenter of the Marlins’ future: the roster projects to have an abundance of the organization’s top young talent. As many as five of the team’s top 11 prospects — including its first three picks from the 2018 draft — could find themselves in Clinton this season.
“I think it’s going to be a great opportunity to continue to develop those players,” said Jacobs, who hit 100 home runs in his seven-year MLB career. “There are going to be a lot of prospects and the young future of the organization is going to be there. Being tasked with that responsibility to help develop those guys and lead them is something I don’t take for granted.
“It’s a tremendous opportunity and for them to think highly enough of me to put me in that situation is pretty awesome.”
For Jacobs, Clinton provides a smooth transition, as a number of players he worked with last year with the Batavia (N.Y.) Muckdogs will likely move up a level with him.
Although rosters haven’t been finalized, the LumberKings may be the most intriguing team in the entire organization. Headlining the group will likely be its Class of 2018 — outfielder Connor Scott, shortstop Osiris Johnson and catcher Will Banfield. Selected within the first 69 picks of the MLB Draft, the Marlins are heavily invested in the trio as they form the nucleus of the new ownership regime’s inaugural draft class.
Braxton Garrett, a 21-year old left-hander and the team’s 2016 first-round pick, is a likely candidate for Clinton. Fellow pitcher Jordan Holloway, who was added to Miami’s 40-man roster this offseason, should be due for a promotion after finishing 2018 in Batavia.