For a guy that isn’t big on individual awards, West Monroe’s Jacob Pearson has accumulated an impressive list.
Pearson was named Louisiana’s Gatorade Player of the Year and the MVP of the LSWA’s Class 5A all-State team just last week alone. The LSU signee was also the 85th pick in the Major League Baseball draft by the Los Angeles Angels in the third round.
Always the consummate teammate, Pearson’s first reaction to being named the Louisiana Farm Bureau Insurance/LSWA Mr. Baseball for 2017 was to think of ways he could share the award with the rest of his team.
“This is unbelievable,” Pearson said. “There are so many good players in this state and for me to be picked for something like this is an honor, and I’m very thankful.
“Baseball is a team game, and I wouldn’t be in this position without my teammates and my coaches. They are just as big a part of this as I am.”
Pearson is the first West Monroe player to claim Mr. Baseball honors since Ben Soignier won the award in 2004. The award comes a couple of days after Pearson announced on Twitter he was joining the Angels, foregoing the chance to play at LSU.
Terrorizing pitchers was all but routine for Pearson, who hit .519 with 12 home runs and a .606 on-base percentage. He was no slouch in the outfield committing just one error.
Teams that intentionally walked Pearson were left to deal with the rest of West Monroe’s potent lineup, leaving them little option but to pitch to him and pray for the best.
“My pitching coach, Dan Gressett, and I would just look at each other because where do you throw the guy,” Ruston coach Toby White said. “We threw him everything we knew to throw and in every location for four years and he’d still hit it. It got to the point where you just hoped he’d hit it to somebody, and they would make a play.”
Pearson was a must-see at the plate for spectacle.
“The main thing I had to worry about was the pitcher throwing a change-up and him pulling it in our dugout," West Monroe coach Wade Simoneaux said. "It happened one time at Pineville, and he almost killed somebody.
“After that everyone was pretty aware when Jacob was up to bat.”
Simoneaux said Pearson possessed a rare combination of power and speed shortly after taking over at West Monroe before his sophomore year. Mississippi State figured that out even earlier and offered Pearson a scholarship before his first high school at-bat.
Pearson realized he might have a future beyond college baseball when the pro scouts started making their way to West Monroe’s Shelby Aulds Field after his junior year.
“I’m fortunate that I had coach Simoneaux to lead me in the right direction,” Pearson said. “He coached Division I for several years, and there’s nothing better for a hitter than to have a coach that will let you swing away.”
The Rebels swung away early and often during the 2017 season en route to a 35-3 record and Class 5A runner-up finish.
Pearson admitted that a state championship would have meant more to him than any individual award.
While he’s grateful for the attention, Pearson is most proud of is not letting the spotlight sown by the army of scouts and college coaches distract his team.
“It goes back to the way I was raised,” Pearson said. “My parents taught me your team is the most important thing every time you step between those white lines.
“After the game you can think about all that stuff, but during the game you owe your teammates your focus and best effort and that’s what I’ve always tried to live by.”
La. Farm Bureau Insurance/LSWA Mr. Baseball winers
1996: Joe Lawrence, Barbe
1997: Chucky Son, Parkview Baptist
1998: Aaron Lowe, Parkway
1999: Nick Bourgeois, Barbe
2000: Austin Nagle, Barbe
2001: Austin Nagle, Barbe/Jonathan Zeringue, E.D. White
2002: Greg Smith, Alexandria
2003: Matt Greenwich, Parkview Baptist
2004: Ben Soignier, West Monroe
2005: Beau Jones, Destrehan
2006: Forrest Moore, Parkview Baptist
2007: Carmen Angelini, Barbe
2008: Zack Von Rosenberg, Zachary
2009: Zack Von Rosenberg, Zachary
2010: Bryan Picou, Northlake Christian
2011: Aaron Nola, Catholic-BR
2012: Gavin Cecchini, Barbe
2013: Jared Poché, Lutcher
2014: Chase Vallot, St. Thomas More
2015: Kale Breaux, Sulphur
2016: Nick Webre, Teurlings Catholic
2017: Jacob Pearson, West Monroe