Former Gonzaga University and North Central High School ace Alek Jacob was sitting at his parents’ house on July 13.
With his mom nervously pacing the room and his girlfriend, Madeline Gotta – a former GU soccer player – by his side, Jacob’s phone rang.
A family member’s name popped up on his phone, but Jacob had no interest in answering.
He – for the moment – had more important numbers to watch out for on his phone. Like one with a 619 area code for example.
On that Tuesday, in the 16th round of the MLB First-Year Player Draft, Jacob’s phone lit up with that area code as the Second-Team All-American was notified that he would be the newest member of the San Diego Padres organization.
“It’s something I’ve been dreaming about since I was a kid – 4 years old,” Jacob said. “Like I said, it’s a dream come true, and I’m really excited for this opportunity and to get going. It is obviously great to get my career started, but at the same time, it is just the beginning. This is where the work starts.”
Immediately his mother, Susie, called her husband, Scott, who was at work, to let him know their son was now a member of the Padres.
Jacob could only imagine how his father reacted to hearing the news and wished he could have seen his face in the moment of the announcement.
The Padres are currently in third place in the buzzsaw which is the National League West. They occupy the second wild card spot in the NL and have the fourth-best record in the league at 56-42.
They boast some exciting young players, specifically Fernando Tatis Jr.
Throughout the draft process, San Diego wasn’t on Jacob’s radar. He did speak to the Padres leading up to the draft, but he was not expecting them to call his name. But the day after the draft, Jacob was already sporting a Padres jersey on Instagram.
Now, Jacob is in Peoria, Arizona, at the Padres spring training facility. He is with the other new Padres draftees before they figure out their assignments.
He threw his first bullpen session on Thursday and sometime in the next couple weeks, he will be sent out to officially begin his professional career.
The Spokane native leaves the Lilac City and the Bulldogs with memories that he’ll cherish forever.
“I just have so many great friends that I made,” Jacob said. “And so, I’m really thankful for them. And I’ll definitely miss all of them.”
Jacob finished his Bulldog career with his name peppered throughout the university record book. The right-hander has the best opponent batting average against (.202), is second in strikeouts (323), fourth in saves (15) and eighth in career wins (22).
He joins 11 other Zag pitchers in the pros, many of whom were groomed by pitching coach Brandon Harmon.
“The coaches did so much for me while I was there, and just everybody involved really helped me a lot to get to where I am today,” Jacob said.
Jacob didn’t receive much attention out of high school but became a full-fledged staff leader during his time at GU. A lot of that credit was dished out to Harmon.
Harmon would call every pitch for Jacob based off scouting reports and allowed him to compete and work on his unique arm-slot.
“The biggest thing for me that I took away from him, out of all the things he taught me, was you have to go out there and be the best version of yourself,” Jacob said. “If you’re out there trying to be someone else, you’re not going to have success.”
“He completely changed my career around.”
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