Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers ’16 – #41 Jake Elmore
The lack of Monday columns this year has been disturbing. Think about it. I normally shout Mondays from the rooftops once this series begins because not only are we another day closer but the week counter always ticks down to a whole number.
We got a 63 (Junior Guerra) but 56 and 49 are coaches this year and 42 is retired throughout baseball…but you already know that. Finally next week Monday we’ll get to 35 and Shane Peterson and I’ll be able to properly acknowledge the week ticker.
Regardless, we’re now inside of six weeks until Opening Day and since we just took a three day break due to retired numbers and a coach and tomorrow is also a coach, I wanted to make sure we talked about…
(First, let’s say how great it is that Elmore tweeted this on his BBtJN profile day.)
This is normally the kind of profile I wouldn’t do for “Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers” for two major reasons. First, Jacob David Elmore isn’t exactly much of a prospect. He’s 28 years old and has spent parts of the last four seasons in the big leagues after debuting in August of 2012 for the Arizona Diamondbacks. He was a 34th round pick in 2008 by the D’backs so even reaching the big leagues is an unlikely accomplishment in and of itself, but what I mean in saying he’s not a prospect is that he likely doesn’t have a significantly better future ahead of him.
Does that make sense? He’s not some 20-year-old with tools coming out of his ears and unrealized potential. It doesn’t mean he can’t be useful. It doesn’t mean he’ll get cut and retire. It just means that people normally don’t like to read about guys in his situation.
Part of that situation is the second reason I normally wouldn’t write about him, that being that he doesn’t really have much of a chance — barring a significant rash of injuries — to break camp with the big league club.
So why bother writing this? First, for the people like you who clicked to read it. Second, it’s simply that when telling the story of Jake Elmore’s baseball career, there are some fun and interesting things to tell.
As I mentioned above, Elmore was originally a 34th round draft pick. How many other draft picks in the last decade have reached The Show having been taken that late or later? I’d wait why you look it up because it’s not an incredibly long list but the point is that for every Kenny Rogers, Junior Spivey, Keith Hernandez, Mark Buehrle, or even the holy grail that is Mike Piazza, there are hundreds of players who never get a sniff. So that’s cool that Elmore not only broke through but has remained in consideration over the past four years.
Here’s another thing. Elmore has been in the big leagues with four different teams in those four years but was a part of seven organizations. He debuted with Arizona (1) in 2012 but was waived after the season. Houston (2) claimed him and he got back to the big leagues as an Astro in 2013. He was waived again following that season but picked up by the Chicago White Sox (3), for who he never played. The Oakland Athletics (4) purchased Elmore’s contract from the White Sox three months and a week after Chicago claimed him. Elmore played in 47 games for Oakland’s Triple-A affiliate before finding himself back on the waiver wire. This time it was Cincinnati (5) who was found claiming the well-traveled player. He played in 25 games for their Triple-A club before a September call-up brought him back to the dance.
That’s five teams. How do we get to the Brewers being number eight? Elmore was granted free agency on November 4, 2014 but signed back with Cincinnati the very next day…who promptly waived him. Two days after that the Pittsburgh Pirates (6) were awarded a claim but less then three months later Elmore was granted free agency again. A week blowing in the wind ended with a free agent contract on February 9, 2015 with the Tampa Bay Rays (7). Elmore found his way into 51 games for the Rays, making a career-high 158 trips to the plate.
Now granted, Elmore only slashed .206/.263/.284 in the big leagues last year but this is where the most fun part of Elmore’s back story comes to light as it’s what has kept him relevant at times throughout his career. He’s versatile.
You sometimes hear of a player’s defensive versatility and you think of a guy who can play second, third, and short. Or a corner infielder. Or someone who can line up in each outfield position. Or maybe even someone like Jonathan Lucroy or Buster Posey who spend some time at first base when they aren’t catching. Or how about Brewers cult favorite Brooks Kieschnick who played corner outfield, pinch-hit, and pitched in relief?
Jake Elmore is all of those people.
Seriously. He’s played all nine defensive positions, and designated hitter. And not just in the minors like Brewers prospect Nate Orf did for Brevard County (in one game, no less), but at the Major League level. He doesn’t hit as well as the guys who moonlight at a secondary position or keep their bats in the lineup by spelling everyone in the infield in a rotating manner, but Elmore truly does it all defensively.
Check out this breakdown of just his MLB fielding statistics.
I’m counting and that’s 10. Which is where his value lies for this club. I don’t expect Elmore — in big league camp on a minor-league contract — to head north to Milwaukee on April 4, but what I’m thinking he offers is absolute emergency coverage should something happen as well a good approach at the plate if not always good result.
Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash said about him last year, “Jake is an interesting player. He gives you a good at bat and he can play everywhere.”
While “everywhere” will almost certainly mean “Colorado Springs” to begin the season, don’t be shocked to see Elmore find his way into a Brewers uniform at some point.
But also don’t be shocked to see him waived at the end of the season only to catch on with another new club. He’s already played all the positions. Maybe he can get to a majority of the teams.
Follow Jake on Twitter: @JElmo10
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