Bucky Jacobsen: Letting His Bat Do the Talking

Rainiers Slugger Bucky Jacobsen (Photo:M's)

When fans are asked about which minor leaguers they'd like to see up in the big leagues right now, the answer is often the same; Bucky! Tacoma Rainiers DH Bucky Jacobsen, armed with a power-packed swing and his own fan club, continues his superb season in the Pacific Coast League.

Bucky Jacobsen strolled to the plate on Monday, June 14 to face Salt Lake Stinger right-hander Chris Bootcheck with the bases loaded in the bottom of the third. Earlier in the year, Rainiers head coach Dan Rohn, had made a bet with Jacobsen, telling him that he didn't think anyone could reach the centerfield wall at Cheney Stadium during a game.

Before a 2-2 pitch, Jacobsen stepped out of the batters box, breathed and tried to relax. When he stepped back in, he lambasted a Bootcheck fastball to the very furthest part of Cheney Stadium. The ball made a loud echoing thud, 13 feet or so up the centerfield wall [425 feet away from home plate], that could be heard throughout the stadium. When the 270-pound Jacobsen strolled into second, he had cleared the bags and brought the crowd to it's feet.

Bucky's blast was a number of things: a base clearing double; the farthest hit ball most fans had ever seen; a Rohn humbler; and, a powerful statement to the Mariners front office. That statement being: "Hey, Edgar might need a walker next year, and I can hit the ball about as far as that Bonds fella' so maybe give me a shot, next year."

Of course, Jacobsen is far too modest to say it as bluntly as most Mariner fans would say it.

"That was my main goal when I signed with the Mariners this year," Jacobsen said. "I didn't want to be up [with the Mariners] at the beginning of this year or even midseason this year, I just wanted to come to [Tacoma].

"The largest reason why I signed with the Mariners was that I knew that Edgar Martinez has had a great career and it's about ready to come to an end, possibly. Another big part was that it was my hometown team. I grew up being a Mariners fan so that was a big plus.

"I knew that if I came in here and did what I could do that hopefully they would give me a shot at winning that job next spring training."

Prior to this year, Jacobsen had been tagged as a career minor leaguer by most. Appearing in Triple-A only once over a seven-year span, for a 86-game stint with Indianapolis, he spent the first five-and-a-half of his seven minor league seasons in the Milwaukee Brewers organization (1997-02). After that, he was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals organization, spending the remainder of the 2002 season with the New Haven Ravens (AA) of the Eastern League.

In 2003, still with St. Louis, Jacobsen had a career year playing with the Tennessee Smokies (AA-St. Louis). He cracked a career-high 31 homers to lead the Southern League, and also was the league leader in slugging percentage (.564) and runs scored (84).

With the Rainiers this season, Jacobsen has continued his torrid hitting, leading Tacoma in hits (65), doubles (18), RBI (57), total bases (133) and slugging percentage (.630). His 16 home runs are second only to the 18 of third baseman Justin Leone.

And the numbers Jacobsen is posting aren't just leading the Rainiers, they are atop the Pacific Coast League as well. In his first year in the league, he has made a considerable impact on the PCL; the slugger is among the top 10 in doubles, and in the top five in HRs, slugging and total bases. He currently leads the league in RBI.

"At this point," Jacobsen said, "I don't really look at that stuff [numbers]. It's nice to see where I rank with other guys in the league because I've never played in this league before.

"But for the most part I don't look at it and say ‘Oh, I'm leading in RBI.' If in September you look at it and I'm still leading, then that is something that will stand out. And general managers around the league will notice, and hopefully even [Seattle's GM], Bill Bavasi, will notice."

Hopefully, Bavasi will notice, because unless you've spent the past two and a half months underground you are slightly aware that the Mariners have a little problem scoring runs.

And while most scouts believed Jacobsen to be a career minor leaguer, his true fans knew he would make it all along (check out his fan-created Web site at buckybacker.com). His numbers are simply too good for scouts to ignore any longer.

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