Loyalty is a big part of what drives Jay Jabs.
The past three years, Jabs paid back Franklin Pierce University for giving him a spot on the college’s baseball team following his 2013 graduation from Perkiomen Valley. Now, the Schwenksville resident will be looking to answer the New York Mets’ decision to bring him into their farm system.
Jabs was selected Saturday afternoon by the Mets in the 17th round of the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft. He was the 520th overall pick in the draft, which saw more than 1,200 amateur players selected by the 30 MLB franchises.
“It panned out better than I expected,” Jabs said during a phone interview Saturday evening. “To go to Franklin Pierce as a walk-on and start my first year … they gave me a chance. And now the Mets are giving me a chance.”
Jabs indicated he will be pursuing a pro baseball career with New York. He’ll have a couple days’ down time, then hook up with the Mets to find out their plans for him.
Likely destinations could be the Mets’ Class A short-season New York-Penn League affiliate, the Brooklyn Cyclones, or the franchise’s rookie level Appalachian League affiliate, the Kingsport Mets. Whatever the decision, Jabs — a versatile talent who’s played shortstop, outfield and pitcher in addition to third — will approach it with the same energy and determination he displayed during his high-school and travel-team playing days.
“No matter what the position,” he said, “I’ll do what I have to do.”
In becoming the 27th draft pick in school history, Jabs became the third Franklin Pierce player drafted by the Mets. The other Ravens draftees were in 2013, when New York selected Kevin McGowan in the 13th round (386 overall) and Zach Mathieu in the 16th round (476 overall).
McGowan was called up to the Double-A Binghamton Mets of the Eastern League earlier this week, after logging 33 innings with a 0.82 ERA to start the 2016 season with the St. Lucie Mets of the Class A Advanced Florida State League. Meanwhile, Mathieu spent three seasons in affiliated ball, but is currently plying his trade for the Florence Freedom of the independent Frontier League.
“Nobody deserves this opportunity more than this kid. He has made himself into a great player,” FP head coach Jayson King said of Jabs. “I am so proud of the way he developed and went about his business, especially this season in his draft year. He is a prime example of the development within our program.”
Somehow, Jabs — a consensus All-American and East Region Player of the Year and a two-time Northeast-10 Conference Player of the Year — managed to improve on last year’s already gaudy numbers.
In 2016, he posted a .352/.466/.638 slash line over 57 games and 213 at-bats (75-for-213). Through the NCAA East Regional, he was tied for 16th in the country in runs batted in (69), ranks 26th in runs batted in per game (1.25), is tied for 27th in walks (41), is tied for 45th in home runs (14) and is tied for 48th in total bases (135).
Within the Northeast-10, Jabs ranks first in home runs and runs batted in, second in slugging percentage and walks, third in on-base percentage, tied for fourth in runs scored (61) and tied for fifth in hits, and seventh in batting average. He is also tied for 11th in doubles (13), tied for 13th in triples (three) and tied for 17th in stolen bases (16).
That all helped him catch the eye of MLB scouts this spring.
“During the season, I was in contact with a number of teams,” Jabs recalled. “During the draft, the Mets showed the most interest in me.”
Franklin Pierce (48-9) captured the seventh NCAA Regional title in program history on May 23, with a 6-3 win over Southern New Hampshire. The Ravens also claimed their fifth straight Northeast-10 Conference Northeast Division title during the 2016 campaign.
Over 109 games since the start of the 2015 season, the Ravens own a 96-13 record (.881) — the best winning percentage in the nation in that timeframe.
“Everything matched up. I’m right where I expected to be,” Jabs said of the draft outcome.
His senior year at Perk Valley, Jabs was instrumental in the Vikings going 12-6 in the Pioneer Athletic Conference (14-8 overall), making the league’s Final Four playoffs and qualifying for the District 1 Class AAAA playoffs. He was accorded second-team honors on The Mercury’s All-Area team as an infielder and received similar selection to the All-PAC team, in addition to being named PV’s Most Valuable Player on the offensive side,
Jabs also played travel ball with Starpath during his high-school years.
“When you find the right travel team, that’s big,” he said. “Starpath was the right team for me. We didn’t travel all over the country, but we travelled up and down the East Coast.
“Through that experience, I got better.”
Credit: The Mercury