Draft prospect Berry a threat from both sides of plate

July 18th, 2022

The Marlins selected Jacob Berry with the No. 6 overall pick in the 2022 Draft. Here's a deeper look at Green that was first published on MLB.com in the weeks leading up to the Draft.

Jacob Berry has been switch-hitting for as long as he can remember.

Growing up in the Phoenix suburb of Queen Creek, Ariz., Berry played pretty much every sport, but he always knew he was a little bit better at baseball than all the other kids. Around four or five years old, Berry started to focus on baseball specifically and began playing travel ball around the metro area.

Switch-hitting happened soon after that.

“When my dad started teaching me, he really started to kind of help me out and develop my swing,” Berry explained. “I just fell in love with the game at that age. My dad taught me every step of the way along the way. I'm really grateful for that.

“[My dad has] been unbelievable. It's hard putting into words. He’s been so influential in everything in my life: School, being a good human, being a good brother and, obviously, the baseball thing is going to come along with all of that. I’ve got a lot of growing up to do still, but he's been amazing in every sense of my life. He’s always been my biggest influence and my biggest supporter.”

Perry Berry was a standout infielder in one season at Southwestern Louisiana University (now Louisiana-Lafayette) in 1990 and spent four years as an Astros farmhand before hanging up his cleats for good. But he instilled in Jacob all the things he knew about the game and life, including the ability to switch-hit.

Even though Perry Berry wasn’t a switch-hitter during his college or professional career, he felt the ability might be vital for Jacob’s success in the sport.

“It's a great tool to have,” Jacob Berry explained. “There's not a lot of switch-hitters anymore, nowadays. I believe myself to be the best switch-hitter in the country. And I mean, honestly, one of the best hitters in the country, if not the best hitter. That just comes from working for a long time at it. My dad's really put in the time with me when I was a young kid and [now it’s] a normal thing. I'm really grateful for it nowadays. It gives me a lot of upside in that regard and helps me hit a lot of different pitchers.”

Best hitter in the country may sound overly confident, but Berry has the stats to back it up.

Berry broke onto the scene during his freshman season at the University of Arizona, leading the Pac-12 in RBIs, triples, total bases (167) and extra-base hits (41), and ranking among the top 10 players in the conference in runs, hits, doubles, home runs, walks, batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage.

He became a consensus All-American and Freshman All-American, as well as Collegiate Baseball National Co-Freshman of the Year in 2021 at the University of Arizona playing mostly as the designated hitter.

After following head coach Jay Johnson to LSU, Berry quickly carried that production over to Baton Rouge. After blasting 17 homers in 247 at-bats at Arizona, he upped his efficiency with 15 long balls in just 180 at-bats with the Tigers en route to another All-American season in which he hit .400/.496/.589 in Southeastern Conference play.

His overall season OPS of 1.134 ranked seventh highest in the SEC, even as he missed the last series of the season with a broken finger (which he notes is fully healed). Maybe most importantly, Berry’s strikeout rate dropped more than 10 percent between 2021-22.

It’s easy to see why Johnson, who recruited Berry out of high school, calls him one of the most special talents he’s ever coached. It’s almost easier to see why Berry followed him to Baton Rouge, a place almost 1,500 miles from his home, his friends, his family and everything he had ever known.

“He’s a guy who believed in me from the very beginning, and gave me the opportunity to go to Arizona,” Berry said of Johnson. “That's the reason I ended up at LSU too. I'm really grateful for it. I think I'll look back at it as one of the best decisions of my life.”

Now, the 21-year-old Berry is one of the most advanced hitters in this year’s Draft and is nearly equal in production on both sides of the plate. He’s listed as the No. 7 ranked prospect overall and the second-best college hitter.

For all his offensive prowess, Draft evaluators and scouts have noted that Berry doesn’t appear to be a fit to stay at third base long term, and his lack of a clear position may end up causing him to fall out of the top-5 in the Draft.

But the Arizona native disagrees with the naysayers. He spent time at third base (35 starts) and both corner outfield positions (16 total) with LSU in 2022, and believes his defensive game will only get better from here, regardless of position.

“I’m comfortable at all of them, that's what I've been telling everybody,” Berry said. “That's what I really believe, to be honest with you. I believe that I’m going to be a good defender, wherever I get drafted and wherever they want me to play. I think that's something that speaks to my hard work.

“And that's something that people are going to just notice, the more and more they watch me and the better and better I get. It's just kind of, like I said, all I want is just to be a better hitter. Next year, as I do that, I want to be a better defender. That's just something I'm always going to strive for moving forward in my career. And hopefully, I can do that.”