Jacob Evans returning to OU after injuries cut pro baseball dream short.
This is the fourth in a series featuring 2019 Broken Arrow Athletic Hall of Fame Inductees
A month or so before the Broken Arrow Athletic Hall of Fame induction ceremony Jacob Evans will again venture from his hometown to the University of Oklahoma. This time with a different set of career goals, although still in the same field – maybe that should be same field of play – for which he has a passion.
In 2012, the 18-year-old BAHS graduate enrolled as scholarship baseball player at OU.
“Every college kid wants to play professional baseball,” said Evans, who was no different than those who came before him and who will come after.
Shortly after his junior year with the Sooners, Evans was drafted in the sixth round by the St. Louis Cardinals in 2015. He made it as high as the Class AA Springfield Cardinals.
“Putting in all the hard work and stuff, this is kind of what you dream of,” Evans said. “That was my favorite team, so that made it even more special.”
Because of reoccurring back injuries, that dream has ended.
Evans returns to OU to complete his sports management degree and plans to continue to grad school. He will be a “student coach” for the 2020 baseball season, and eyes being a graduate assistant as he finishes up that degree. The next step is coaching.
“Having the experience and knowledge of what you have to go through to get to those upper levels will help me be a good coach,” Evans said. “When you get to professional baseball, it’s all a mind game, because there’s so much video and analytical numbers and information on what guy’s tendencies are. If you are able to move a guy’s feet, that is when you become a complete pitcher.
“To give those kids that knowledge then I think I could give whomever I coach an advantage as to what it takes to pitch at the professional level.”
Evans hit a “bump in the road” in 2018 and was released by the Cardinals. Injuries had a part to do with that, as his ERA hit a professional high of 5.06 compared to just 2.55 with Springfield the season before.
He and his wife, Lauren (also a 2012 BA graduate), agreed that it was time to change the career path.
Though, his playing days may be behind him, Evan’s memories of playing for the 2011 High School National Championship team – according to Max Preps and Collegiate Baseball – are still fresh. Evans was a junior on the 36-2 team that eventually saw six players drafted into pro baseball.
“Being able to play with that group of guys gave me the confidence going into my senior year that I could be the guy,” said Evans, who played first base as a junior and then became the Tigers No. 1 starter his senior year.
“I really didn’t think I was that good of a first basemen. But, for some reason that year I made every single play. That was pretty crazy.”
Evans offensive and pitching numbers, as well his list of awards his senior year, could be considered “crazy.” He hit .430 with six home runs and 41 RBIs. On the mound, he went 10-0 with a 1.83 ERA and struck out 103 batters while walking just 10. His honors included the Jim Thorpe Player of the Year, Fergie Jenkins Award, All-Metro Pitcher of the Year, Frontier Valley Conference Player of the Year, ESPN High School All-State, Northeastern Oklahoma Baseball Coaches Association Player of the Year and Louisville Slugger All-American.
It’s no wonder Sooner coaches saw him as a two-way player. Though he had a walk-off extra inning home run against the University of Kansas, a game in which he also was the winning pitcher, it was on the mound, in relief, where Evans made his mark for Sooners.
As a freshman, Evans finished the season with a team-high nine saves and a 7-2 record. He appeared in 30 games, pitching 52.1 innings and registering a 2.06 ERA. For his Sooner career, Evans became only the third OU pitcher to finish his career with 15 or more wins and saves. He was 16-8 and notched 17 saves.
Soon, he’ll be back at OU. Though not closing games for the Sooners, Evans will begin the process of earning a college degree, with grad school in mind, and closing in on a second career in baseball.