Q&A with Jacob Berry: No. 6 pick talks his path, hitting, more

July 18th, 2022

The Marlins selected LSU third baseman/outfielder Jacob Berry with the sixth overall pick in the 2022 MLB Draft on Sunday night. MLB.com chatted with Berry afterwards about his hitting philosophy and future in baseball.

MLB.com: We've heard so much about your plate discipline. How much pride do you take in not striking out?

Berry: I want to be the best hitter I can be when I'm in the box. Last year as a freshman, I played [at Arizona] in a great conference in the Pac-12 and I had a few strikeouts (58 K, 33 BB), and I wanted to limit that. I wanted to grow as a player and as an individual, and that was a big emphasis on me becoming a more well-rounded hitter this year. I think I did a good job (22 K, 27 BB). There's always a chance of getting on if you put the ball in play, but if you strike out, you're walking back to the dugout. So I kind of viewed it as that. I just wanted to become a better player this year, and that was one of the many things that I tried to improve upon.

MLB.com: How do you go about that?

Berry: I went back and looked at things, like why was I striking out so much. I kind of picked up on I was chasing some pitches in certain counts and getting big and trying to do some things in certain counts. I don't really need to do that. I'm a good hitter, and I really believe in my ability and the work that I put in that I don't need to look for pitches and swing at certain things. I can trust my ability. I just let that take over this year. That was the biggest thing for me this year with growth as a player.

MLB.com: Is that stuff you learn from experience? From your dad?

Berry: My dad helped create my swing since I was a young kid, and I've played for a lot of really great folks. ... Coach [Jay] Johnson laid it out pretty simply: "This is what college pitchers throw the majority of the time," and that just helped refine my approach. I already had a good approach, and I looked for things in certain places. I just took bits and pieces that helped me a lot. I really trust my ability, and that was looking middle away and reacting inside. I was very fortunate. I've got really good eyes, and my dad ingrained that in me at a young age, so I really believe that, and that's my approach. That's what I've done, and it's probably what I'm going to stick to for a long time.

MLB.com: Is that genetics? Hard work?

Berry: That's a great question. I think it's a little bit of both. I've been very blessed with parents that have supported me throughout everything. They've obviously given me quite a bit of athletic ability. My dad played Division 1 baseball and played a little bit of Minor League ball, and my mom played Division 2 basketball, so they're both real good athletes. They've given me countless opportunities, and they've helped me grow as a baseball player and as a human being.

MLB.com: You mentioned your dad helping. Was it his swing or a variation of it?

Berry: That's a great question. I think you might have to ask him on that one. My dad always preached barreling the ball, and that's something that I do, in my opinion, better than anybody in the country. I think that's what's made me such a special hitter is having the ability to barrel the baseball. I'm not going good all the time, and that's normal, but in any count, I can barrel the ball up and hopefully move the offense and help my team win. That's something that I take pride in, is being able to do that on my best days and being able to do that on my worst days.

MLB.com: When did you take your biggest jump?

Berry: That's another great question. I'm not sure I can give you an answer on that one. I don't like answering questions about me either. I would probably say from high school to college. That's the one that's kind of probably the most relevant at least. I thought I've always been a good ballplayer, and I always try to get better each year, from my freshman year of high school to my sophomore year. My freshman year at Arizona to my sophomore year at LSU. I pride myself on getting better each year, and I don't know if I have one year that really sticks out to me. There's been a lot of failures and a lot of successes, and there's going to be a lot more of that moving forward for me. That's something that I'm going to have to learn to accept. That's going to help me become a good ballplayer.

MLB.com: Was there a moment you thought baseball could be your career?

Berry: I don't know if I ever saw it as a career. I saw it as a game that I've loved for such a long time since I first started playing it. I remember my T-ball games, which is crazy. Just remember the joy and excitement I had playing those games. I just love the game, and I was so fortunate enough to be put in a family that supported me and my dreams. It seems like my dreams are coming true right now, so I'm just enjoying the moment, and I'm just really thankful.

MLB.com: What's your favorite thing about baseball?

Berry: My favorite thing to do is when I step in that batter's box, it's between me and the pitcher. There's eight other guys playing defense besides the pitcher, but it's me between the pitcher. If I barrel a ball up right at somebody, that's a successful at-bat to me. That's something I think we've gotten away from a little bit in baseball, is we care about stats and home runs and stuff. But every time I go up there, I want to win the battle, and winning the battle is barreling the ball, in my opinion. Sometimes I'm going to lose, which I'll probably lose quite a bit, but I'm going to try to try to barrel up as many balls as possible. That's the most fun time I have when I'm on a baseball field, in that batter's box.

MLB.com: A final philosophical question for you. How would you describe yourself?

Berry: I would describe myself as hardworking and loyal to everybody around me. I'm not the most talented guy in the class, obviously, but I do think I outwork people and I strive myself upon that. That's what I really value. I don't really see anybody else put the work in that I do. It's not just the time thing. It's something that I really believe in. It's effort that I put in, and how much I care about the game is something that I think elevates my game and me as a person and individual as well. I'm also loyal to the people around me. I've had a lot of people that have helped me along my career, and I'm very, very grateful for those people. I can't thank them enough. I'm just so blessed to have those people here tonight and have them support me on my on my path. I'm just kind of excited to see where my path leads.