Athlete of the Issue: Raul Jacobson

Photo: P. Maltzer

Grant Huhn

A hard-throwing intimidator on the mound, Raul Jacobson ‘10 has played a major role in the Matadors’ success this season.  Jacobson was born to be a pitcher, and he has had a dominating presence on the mound since his little league days.
Before moving to Orinda in sixth grade, Jacobson began his pitching career in the fourth grade San Francisco little league. Well aware of his ability to throw the baseball hard, the transition to OBA baseball was a breeze for Jacobson.
“I remember being overwhelmed with intimidation the first time I batted against Raul,” said Isaac Maltzer ‘10. “He was big and threw harder than anyone else, and the at-bat did not go over well for me.”
Jacobson became very serious and dedicated to pitching during the seventh and eighth grade when he took lessons from Jeff Pick, a pitching coach for OBA baseball.
“He really helped me develop my changeup, which is one of my best pitches and vital to my success,” said Jacobson.
After dominating opponents on the JV team, Jacobson earned a spot on the varsity roster halfway through his sophomore year. Surprisingly, this is the first season that Jacobson has been able to be a starting pitcher.  Andrew Kjar ‘09 and John Vaccarro ‘09 started last season, and they both went deep into games and had a lot of success.
“It was hard because I knew that I was capable of being a starting pitcher last season, but you have to give a lot of credit to Kjar and John (Vaccarro),” said Jacobson.
In 71 innings pitched this season, Jacobson has a 2.17 Earned Run Average, 72 strikeouts, and only 16 walks given up. Opponents are hitting an abysmal .227 average against him.  This includes a perfect game against McKinleyville, in which Jacobson retired all 18 batters faced, striking out 14.
The reason that Jacobson has had so much success is because he is able to keep hitters guessing with his hard fastball and off-speed pitches. His fastball is in the high 80 MPH range, topping out at 88 MPH. He also throws a slider and a changeup, which complement the fastball very well.
“The fact that he throws pretty hard and is able to mix in some good off-speed pitches makes him really effective and really fun to catch,” said Kevin Paulsen ‘10, who is Miramonte’s catcher and has been catching Jacobson since sixth grade.
In the summer, Jacobson is a pitcher for the Danville Hoots, which is one of the top amateur teams in the nation.  The Hoots travel to various places in the country and face other top teams in the nation. San Francisco Giants right fielder Nate Schierholtz is a former member of the Hoots, which gives a pretty good idea of how talented the team is.
“The Hoots has been very important to my development