Former Brentwood Academy baseball standout Jacob Stallings just picked up one of the MLB's highest honors.
The 31-year-old won the National League's Gold Glove Award as the league's top catcher following his stellar season with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Stallings had 92 hits, eight home runs, 38 runs, 53 RBIs and hit .246 this past season outside of his duties as the Pirates' starting catcher. He tied Astros catcher Carlos Correa for most defensive runs saved with 21. Stallings was also the only catcher in MLB last season not to allow a passed ball all season, per the MLB.
“To be honest, it’s kind of been the highest individual achievement that I ever felt like I could probably win," Stallings said after the announcement via MLB. "Growing up, I wondered if I could win the Gold Glove. I didn’t know if I could get to the big leagues … [but] the Gold Glove was always kind of the one that was like, ‘Maybe I could actually do that.’"
After attending Brentwood Academy and UNC, Pittsburgh drafted him in the seventh round of the 2016 draft.
He worked his way up through the organization before assuming starting catcher duties in 2020, though that season was altered by the COVID-19 pandemic.
2021 was his first full season as the starting catcher, and he made it count.
“So much of defensive improvement and being a great defender is simply the willingness to work at it,” GM Ben Cherington said of Stallings in October via MLB, “and not just to work at it in time spent, but the willingness to be open-minded, how to work at it, how to train, what information to use and what not to use, trying new things. Stalls just does that consistently.
“Whatever metric you want to use, it's a pretty controllable skill if one is really willing to put the time and effort and practice in the most effective ways, and Jacob is an example of that.”
The son of former Vanderbilt men's basketball coach Kevin Stallings, Jacob is on contract with the organization through 2025, though he could enter arbitration in 2023. He is a teammate of former Brentwood baseball star Bryan Reynolds, who has blossomed into one of the MLB's best players.
Pittsburgh finished 61-101 and at the bottom of the NL's Central division.