Friday, February 21, 2014

Meet A Prospect: Jacoby Ellsbury

Jacoby McCabe Ellsbury was born on September 11, 1983 to his full blooded Native American mother Margie and father Jim Ellsbury. Ellsbury spent his High School years at Madras High School and was a four year letterman in both football and baseball and a three year letterman in basketball. Jacoby spent his college years playing baseball for three seasons at Oregon State and is 50% Native American from the Navajo descent. Ellsbury was the oldest of four children and often played with teammates up to three years older than himself in Little League. Ellsbury is now taking his heritage and his game to New York with the Yankees but that’s not where it all began.

Ellsbury was drafted by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in the 23rd round of the 2002 Major League Baseball First Year Player’s Draft but did not sign. Ellsbury was drafted again 23rd overall by the Boston Red Sox in 2005 after playing three seasons at Oregon State. Ellsbury finished his debut season in 2005 with a .317 average with 23 stolen bases in 35 games and saw himself ranked as the sixth best prospect in the Boston system before the 2006 season. Ellsbury made it all the way to AA in 2006 and made the Carolina League All Star team with a .299 average with 25 steals in 61 games. Ellsbury was also named the Minor League Defensive Player of the Year and Base Runner of the Year that season and earned a spot in the Arizona Fall League that year. Ellsbury finished 2006 in the AFL with a .276 average in 25 games and a spot in the AFL Rising Stars All Star Game, Ellsbury was on the rise. Ellsbury was invited to Red Sox Spring Training camp in 2007 and made it all the way to March 9th before being reassigned to the minors and was ranked as the top prospect in the Boston system and the #33 prospect in all of baseball by Baseball America. Ellsbury destroyed AAA pitching that season to tune of a .452 average, he was awarded the Eastern League Player of the Month for April, and was also chosen to participate in the 2007 All Star Futures Game at AT&T Park in San Francisco. Ellsbury finished the 2007 season winning the Defensive Player of the Year Award and Baserunner of the Year Awards for the second consecutive time.

While Ellsbury’s Major League debut was June 30, 2007 after a Coco Crisp injury, a second call up for a doubleheader on August 17, a September call up where he hit his first home run, a American League Rookie of the Month Award, and a Game 6 start in the American League Championship Series against the Cleveland Indians which led to him starting in centerfield for the Red Sox for the rest of the postseason. Ellsbury became the first rookie to hit two doubles in the same inning of a World Series game when he did so in Game 3 of the World Series against the Colorado Rockies and became the fourth rookie to ever hit three doubles in one World Series game when he hit another one later in the game. He added a single in the first inning of that game making him only the third rookie to ever accomplish the feat in the World Series while compiling a .438 average with four doubles, one stolen base, and a World Series ring. Ellsbury was still considered a rookie in the 2008 season and was ranked #13 overall by Baseball America and the #2 prospect in the Red Sox system behind Clay Buchholz. Ellsbury broke camp with the Red Sox and was their starting center fielder on Opening Day in 2008 when they traveled to play the Oakland Athletics in the Tokyo Dome in Tokyo, Japan. Jacoby also broke the Red Sox rookie record for steals in a season, a record that had been held by Amby McConnell for 100 years, when he stole his 32nd base that season finishing with 50 overall which was good for third on the all-time stolen base leaders in a season for the Red Sox. Ellsbury would finish third in the American League Rookie of the Year vote that season behind the Rays Evan Longoria and the White Sox Alexei Ramirez and finished the season with a loss to the Angels in the ALDS.

On April 12, 2009 Jacoby played his 179th consecutive regular season game without an error breaking the franchises record for outfielders held by Mike Greenwell. On April 15 Jacoby got six chances, making all of them, passing Coco Crisp for the most errorless total chances by a center fielder setting a new Boston franchise record with 433 total chances. Ellsbury also stole home off of the Yankees Andy Pettitte that season, something I remember all too well,  the first “pure steal of home” without a bunt or a squeeze or the such since 1994 when Billy Hatcher did it. Ellsbury finished 2009 leading the AL in stolen bases for the second consecutive year, this year with 70, and also led the league in triples with 10 while winning the Defensive Player of the Year Award from’s This Year In Baseball Awards ceremony. Jacoby changed his uniform number from #46 to #2 before the 2010 season and was moved to left field when the Red Sox signed Mike Cameron to a deal. On April 11 Jacoby collided with then third basemen Adrian Beltre which resulted in hairline fractures to four of his left ribs and landed him on the 15 day disabled list for more than a month. Six days later on May 28, Ellsbury was back on the 15 day DL with residual soreness in the ribs and had to meet with a specialist and would not come back until August 4 of that season. By August 14, for the third time in 2010, Ellsbury was right back on the 15 day DL after he re-injured himself that ended his 2010 season. 2011 saw Ellsbury become the first member of the Red Sox to join the 30 home run and 30 stolen base club and saw him finish the season with career highs in home runs, 32, hits, 212, RBI’s, 105, runs, 119, and batting average with a .321 average. Jacoby also won his first Gold Glove Award, finishing with a 1.000 fielding percentage, and his first Silver Slugger Award, and won the American League Comeback Player of the Year Award. Ellsbury also finished in second place in the MVP voting behind Justin Verlander.

Another year, 2012, and another injury for Ellsbury as on April 13, while trying to slide under Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Reid Brignac in an attempt to break up a double play Jacoby injured his right shoulder. Brignac actually fell on top of the shoulder when the two collided and Jacoby was placed on the disabled list with what is called a subluxation of the shoulder the next day. Jacoby only saw 74 games that season and looked to bounce back last season in what was his contract season. Ellsbury made it all the way until August before suffering an injury, and August 28 game where he suffered a compression fracture by fouling a ball off his foot, and missed a month. Ellsbury led his Red Sox teammates into the playoffs and posted a .500 batting average in the ALDS and a .318 in the ALCS. In the World Series Ellsbury started the series winning rally in Game 6 with a single and the rest is history, his second World Series ring.

Jacoby is officially a member of the Colorado River Indian Tribes and is the first Native American of Navajo descent to play in the Major Leagues. Jacoby is currently only one of three active non-Hispanic Native American players in the Major Leagues with Kyle Lohse of the Milwaukee Brewers and Joba Chamberlain of the Detroit Tigers.  Jacoby boasts an impressive resume which includes two World Series rings,  2007 American League Rookie of the Month, 2008 Red Sox rookie single season stolen base record and American League stolen base leader, 2009 Red Sox single season base stealer of all time and MLB stolen base leader, and in 2011 was the American League Comeback Player of the Year. Now Jacoby has signed a seven year deal with New York worth $153 million including an option for an eight year that could bring the total value of the contract up to $169 million. Now hopefully Jacoby can get his 3rd ring and maybe one for the other two fingers as well in the Bronx.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Sorry for the Capatcha... Blame the Russians :)