Jacob Scavuzzo was named the 2012 Orange County Male Athlete of The Year during his senior year of high school. He caught the eyes of several scouts across the nation, but it was the final team he met, a local organization, that gave him the opportunity of a lifetime.
A half-decade later, Scavuzzo is on the cusp of breaking into Triple-A with the Oklahoma City Dodgers; the final stop before Los Angeles.
"The only thing that stands between you and your dream is the will to try and the belief that it is actually possible."#earlymorningthoughts
— Jacob Scavuzzo (@jacobscavuzzo) January 29, 2017
Scavuzzo grew up a multi-sport star. In route to earning his senior year honors, he played three other sports.
Scavuzzo was a receiver and defensive back on the football team. He was a defensive power forward on the basketball team, priding himself in shutting down the opposition’s best player. Additionally, he ran track. He’d leave baseball practice early to practice 100 and 200 meters, and long and triple jumps. He said each helped him with his movement and change of direction. Football, specifically, increased his competitive spirit and emphasis on teamwork.
“I loved every sport I played,” he said. “I’m still a very competitive person. I wanted to get everything I could out of my high school career and challenge myself in each sport. And I try to win at everything.”
Baseball and football were his best sports. Had Scavuzzo gone to college, he’d have played both. But after the draft, his mind was made up.
“Anything I do in life, I put my heart and soul into it,” Scavuzzo said. “And with sports, if I were to focus on one sport, I wanted to see how much improvement I would’ve made as opposed to focusing on four different sports. I felt like I would be a little behind the curve, but I’d prosper in the end. I just felt I’d have the better career in baseball.”
Scavuzzo expected to be a day two draft choice. If the situation was right, he’d pass on college and chase the MLB dream. Starring in one of the larger talent pools in the country, evaluators frequently watched Scavuzzo.
The Dodgers were the last team to visit him. Scout Jeff Lachman, now with the Colorado Rockies, watched Scavuzzo and spoke with him afterwards. He told him the team is considering him and would be in touch. Scavuzzo didn’t speak with another franchise until the draft.
The three-day 2012 MLB draft was stressful. When Scavuzzo didn’t go day two, his visiting family stayed by his side and cheered him up. As the rounds went by, Scavuzzo succumbed himself to the idea he’d be heading to college as a two-sport athlete.
Then he heard the Dodgers’ decision in the 21st round.
“I had a sigh of relief,” he said. “It was like, ‘Thank God.’ Now I have an opportunity and we’ll see where it goes from here.”
To be taken by a team he grew up seeing meant even more.
“It meant a lot to me,” Scavuzzo said. “The culture the Dodgers bring. How their brand is nationally and worldwide known. Being close to the area, having been to games, envisioning L.A. I was beyond ecstatic to get that chance.”
Scavuzzo grew up 10 minutes from Angel Stadium. He rooted for the Angels to represent his hometown. Now he wants the Dodgers to win it every year, though he’ll occasionally check up on his childhood team.
“You can’t miss Mike Trout,” he said. “He’s a freak out there.”
The first year of rookie ball was enlightening. Scavuzzo struggled mightily. He said he realized as a late pick, he’d receive less of an opportunity. It was also the first time he failed in baseball.
“That was a wake up call,” he said. “I was significantly behind the guys in rookie ball and I needed to work that much harder to catch up to them and pass them. I was an 18-year-old kid. It was my first time being away, first time dealing with failure in baseball. Just being open-minded to all the new teaches and mechanical stuff coaches were teaching me. I wasn’t myself. I was a robot. It’s how I learned to cope with coaches teaching you new things.”
Scavuzzo broke out in Ogden, slashing .307/.350.578 with 14 homers. He said his biggest strength is hitting, especially with the power that’s developed since that season. It’s been his calling card as he ascends the Dodgers system.
Last year, the franchise focused on improving his defense. Scavuzzo plays all three outfield spots, but settled in left. He said his defense and arm strength have made significant strides in the past several seasons.
He feels he’s undersold himself as a base runner, and stealing is an aspect he’s working on. Some scouts opine he could be the best overall athlete in the system. Scavuzzo admits he hasn’t proven it yet, but he believes the potential is there.
His agent, Steve Rath of Ballengee Group, concurs.
“Jacob is a hard, dedicated worker on top of being a good athlete. That combination mean he’s just started tapping into his potential.”
— Ballengee Group (@BallengeeGroup) August 24, 2016
Offensively, Scavuzzo enjoys studying Troy Tulowitzski, among others.
“I like watching Tulo play when he’s hot, not on defense but as an offensive player. I like watching Adam Jones in general. I loved watching Barry Bonds growing up; to do what he did was special. There’s a bunch of players I look for, but those stick out.”
Wow… Adam Jones ??
— Jacob Scavuzzo (@jacobscavuzzo) March 19, 2017
Scavuzzo has developed relationships along the way. He knows Brock Stewart and Andrew Toles from their days in the minors. He’s particularly motivated by Toles’ journey from bagging groceries to the MLB.
“It’s inspiring. It proves to anyone that you can do whatever you put your mind to.”
Two of Scavuzzo’s roommates, Cody Bellinger and Willie Calhoun, are among the Dodgers’ top five prospects. The trio is considered some of the best power bats in the system. While all are renowned for their pop, Scavuzzo laughingly said Calhoun would win a batting practice home run derby.
“It’s fun,” Scavuzzo said. “We all get along very well. Belly was my roommate all year and me and Willie have always been very close. We all like the same things. It’s been a blast.”
@Cody_Bellinger just said, "I wish I could rent a dog to go with our spring training house." ??
— Jacob Scavuzzo (@jacobscavuzzo) February 19, 2017
Scavuzzo praised them both as professionals, but also for making baseball fun.
“The way they go about their business,” he said. “They’re very professional. In the end it’s a game, and they like to have fun. But they’re very serious about their craft, want to get better and win championships.”
Scavuzzo spent the offseason rehabbing. He experienced pain in his right arm last June. He treated it as inflammation, but strained his left shoulder trying to overcompensate for the arm in August and hit the disabled list. The ailing resurfaced in December workouts, and an x-ray found a bone spur.
Surgery went well everyone! Thank you for all your thoughts and prayers! On the road to… https://t.co/icd4RSD7hC
— Jacob Scavuzzo (@jacobscavuzzo) January 24, 2017
The typical recovery span from the surgery is six to eight weeks. Scavuzzo was concerned he’d still miss regular time given the uncertainty as to how his body would react.
Less than six weeks later, he felt healthy and returned to baseball activity.
“It’s like I have a new elbow,” he said.
That’s how the biggest year of Scavuzzo’s life begins. As for the team he starts with, it doesn’t matter.
“I just want to play every day,” he said. “I had a pretty decent season in Tulsa last year. I feel like whether I have to repeat there for a little bit, or start in OKC, it’s not that big of a difference to me because I know that if I’m playing every day, I’m going to give it my all and perform at my peak ability – and eventually take those talents to L.A.”
Scavuzzo wants to prove himself as a building block for the last franchise that spoke to him in high school; the franchise that ended a miserable wait and invested in him as a person and athlete.
“I want to prove to everyone that I’m ready to play in the big leagues whenever they need me. I want to prove there’s no doubt I can play in the big leagues.”
And 2017 will go a long way in defining that path.
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