Jacob Nottingham’s career has been anything but uninteresting.
The Milwaukee Brewers catcher was drafted by Houston in the sixth round in 2013. Two years later he was part of a trade before the July deadline, sent to Oakland as a part of a swap for pitcher Scott Kazmir.
A little less than seven months later he was on the move again, this time to Milwaukee as part of the Brewers’ haul for Khris Davis.
Nottingham combined to hit 17 home runs for three minor-league Single-A teams in 2015. In 2016 in Double-A at age 21 he hit 11 home runs in 112 games. He hit nine in 2017 in 101 games with the Shuckers and 10 in just 50 games at Triple-A Colorado Springs in 2018.
Nottingham also made his MLB debut that season. He didn’t hit a home run, but his power has reached the major leagues.
He hit his first big-league dinger May 17, 2019 in Atlanta off Josh Tomlin. The following season he appeared in 20 games for the Brewers and socked four home runs, including a grand slam off Kansas City’s Danny Duffy.
Here’s where things get even more interesting.
Nottingham got into a couple of playoff games last season against Los Angeles but hurt his thumb and had to have surgery. That delayed his start to spring training, although he did eventually get into nine games he went just 2-for-16 with one home run.
With injuries piling up in Milwaukee and roster moves having to be made, Nottingham became a victim and was designated for assignment on April 22. On April 28, Seattle claimed him off waivers. He was activated by the Mariners on April 30 but DFA’d the next day.
As it turned out, the Brewers were in need of a catcher after seeing Omar Navarez join Manny Pina on the disabled list. Milwaukee purchased Nottingham back from Seattle on May 2 and he was in the Brewers’ lineup that night against (naturally) the Dodgers.
And he homered not once but twice.
That meant in 39 career games with the Brewers, spanning four seasons, Nottingham had seven home runs. That’s the most homers by any Milwaukee catcher over the first 40 games of his MLB career (even though Nottingham, through Monday, had yet to reach 40).
Bill Schroeder held the mark with 6, which he did over two seasons in 1983-84. Martin Maldonado had five (2011-12) and Dave Nilsson four (1992). Three other catchers had three (Darrell Porter, 1971-72; B.J. Surhoff, 1987; Ned Yost. 1980-82).
Nottingham’s .513 slugging percentage over that span is not only better than any of the above-mentioned catchers but, if he can maintain it through his next game, would be the sixth-highest slugging percentage over the first 40 games of a major-league career by a Brewers player (Khris Davis .716; Ryan Braun .663; Keston Hiura .613; Scooter Gennett .534; Tyrone Taylor .519).
In addition, he’d be just the 25th catcher in major-league history to have seven home runs and a .513 or higher slugging percentage over his first 40 games, a list which includes active players Austin Nola, Gary Sanchez and Will Smith as well as Hall of Famer Yogi Berra.
Who knows what twists Nottingham’s career will take (as Berra once reputedly said, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”), but one thing seems certain: His power plays in the majors.