The outfield will have a new look in 2018 for the Lincoln Saltdogs.
With Joe Robbins, Randolph Oduber, Matty Johnson, Brendan O’Brien and Chris Garia all departing, there is only one 2017 outfielder left standing: Brandon Jacobs.
“We really enjoy being around Brandon,” Saltdogs manager Bobby Brown said. “Brandon’s probably the most talented player I’ve ever coached. He’s a veteran now, and we’re expecting him to play like a veteran.”
Jacobs is entering his third year as a Saltdog. The right-handed hitter from Atlanta played in 97 of Lincoln’s 100 regular-season games last year.
He said being the only returning outfielder comes with the burden of being a leader and helping the new players adjust. But he said lot of the on-field command responsibilities will go to Lincoln’s new center fielder, Chad Hinshaw, whom the team acquired Tuesday.
“Obviously center field takes priority,” Jacobs said.
Hinshaw was an every-day player for Triple-A New Orleans in the Miami Marlins organization last season.
“We just kind of got lucky, he kind of fell into our lap, and that was kind of our need, assessing our spring training, was that we needed a true center fielder,” Brown said of Hinshaw. “He’s probably going to hit leadoff for us. We’ll see. We haven’t really seen him play yet.”
Jacobs likes what he’s seen from the new outfielders in spring training.
“I think that we’ll be good as far as outfield,” he said. “This team should hit. Outfield kind of leads the way for us. A lot of our wins come from hitting.”
Jacobs said his goal for this year is to step up his game with runners in scoring position.
“You can always get better at that,” Jacobs said. “I’ve got to take advantage of any chance I get to get somebody in. Obviously that’s a good personal aspect for me, but it’s also a great team concept, to get guys in.”
Of course, for the 6-foot-1, 225-pounder, the long ball is always an option. Jacobs hit 12 home runs last year, good for second on the team and the most of any returning player for 2018.
He said he wouldn’t mind a few more comfortable wins this year after so many walk-offs and comebacks last season.
“It showed a lot from our team to be able to come back and finish those games off and kind of stay with the game and know it’s never over,” he said. “That was the great thing about last year. Obviously, we’d like to not have to go down that hard road, trying to come back, but a win’s a win.”