Jacob Otto Esch
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 4", Weight 190 lb.
- School Georgia Institute of Technology
- High School Cretin–Derham High School
- Debut August 31, 2016
Jake Esch reached the major leagues in 2016.
Esch was All-State in high school in 2006 and 2007, winning a state title his senior year. He had a 16-1, 1.50 record in high school and hit .445 with 13 home runs. He was also All-Conference in football and the team captain in basketball. He had a save and a 4.82 ERA as a college freshman at Georgia Tech. Playing second base in 2010, he hit .284/.356/.355 and fielded .974. In 2011, the junior batted .319/.385/.490 with 23 doubles and 55 runs in 63 games, though he fielded .934. He stole 9 bases in 9 tries. He also pitched briefly, allowing one run in five innings. He tied for the Atlantic Coast Conference lead in doubles.
The Florida Marlins chose Esch in the 11th round of the 2011 amateur draft, one pick before College World Series MVP Scott Wingo was taken. The scout was Carmen Carcone. Despite being primarily an infielder in college, Florida used him as a pitcher. He split the summer between the GCL Marlins (2-0, 1 R in 7 IP) and the Jamestown Jammers (1-1, 4.63). In 2012, he was with Jamestown (3-0, Sv, 3.16 in 10 G) and the Greensboro Grasshoppers (1-3, 3.13 in 6 G).
Esch then joined the Great Britain national team for the 2013 World Baseball Classic Qualifiers. Starting against the Czech Republic national team in an elimination game, he allowed 5 hits, 2 runs and no walks in 6 innings before Paul Waterman relieved; Jake got the win. He was only 2-10 with a 4.69 ERA for the 2013 Jupiter Hammerheads to tie Travis Miller for 4th in the Florida State League in losses. He also was 4th in the Marlins chain in that category.
Back with Jupiter the next season, he improved to 6-6, 4.06. He was Great Britain's #2 hurler in the 2014 European Championship, going 1-0 with a 2.08 ERA and only 5 H and 1 BB in 13 innings while fanning 19. He threw 7 perfect innings to beat Croatia before Alex Webb relieved (the perfecto did not last). Only Spencer Kreisberg had a better ERA for the British squad. He was third in the Euros in whiffs, behind only Pete Sikaras and Jan-Niclas Stöcklin.
In 2015, Esch split time between the Jacksonville Suns (6-5, 3.48) and New Orleans Zephyrs (1-3, 5.40) with a brief rehab stint with the GCL Marlins (1-0, 0 R in 8 IP). He was now deemed a sufficient prospect to play for the Mesa Solar Sox in the Arizona Fall League, going 1-1 with a 4.58 ERA. He spent most of 2016 back with the Suns (10-9, 4.03) and also saw brief action for the Zephyrs (2-1, 5.70). He was 4th in the Southern League in wins when he was called up to the big leagues when David Phelps went on the DL.
In his major league debut, he got the start against the Mets in a match-up of teams battling for wild card hopes. He had a good first inning, getting Jose Reyes on a grounder then fanning both Asdrubal Cabrera and Yoennis Cespedes. In the second, though, he walked Curtis Granderson and gave up a Wilmer Flores homer. He lasted 4 1/3 IP and allowed no more runs but five more hits and three walks before Mike Dunn relieved. He got a no-decision in a 5-2 Marlins loss.