Alabama baseball: second-year freshman Jim Jarvis ready for starting shortstop role

Brett Hudson
The Tuscaloosa News

Last season, Jim Jarvis was hoping to be part of Alabama baseball’s youth movement. He was one of the lowest-rated recruits in a class poised for an abundance of early playing time, and while he ultimately earned the second base job, he was hitless in the final four games of the season.

Less than a year later, Jarvis is in position to be UA’s everyday shortstop.

UA’s second-year freshman from San Diego expected to both improve on his .267 average from last season and replicate the strong defense, if not exceed it, of his predecessor, Kolby Robinson. Jarvis and UA are scheduled to start the season with a three-game series against McNeese State beginning Friday at 3 p.m.

Jarvis looks to his former double-play partner as an inspiration, saying he has talked to Robinson frequently of late. He looked to Robinson as “the most consistent baseball player of all time.”

The early returns from preseason practice are promising. They had to be if Jarvis was going to make the move from second base to shortstop and do so better than other candidates at the position, including Peyton Wilson, Caden Rose and Bryce Eblin.

“It was pretty easy: You come to practice every day, he catches the most balls,” UA coach Brad Bohannon said. “Jim’s a really good player, he’s very well-rounded. ... If you watch practice for five minutes, Jim makes it pretty easy to trot him out there.”

Jarvis may be new to the position at the collegiate level, but he is already benefitting from a wealth of experience. Beyond his conversations with Robinson, his two brothers, Mike and Luke, also played college baseball. Luke played for Bohannon at Auburn, and Mike is in his final season at San Diego State.

“I’d say I’m sitting pretty comfortably right now,” Jarvis said. “All of the preparation and everything I’ve done with the coaching staff and back home. I have a lot of experience with my older siblings playing in college baseball, so they’ve talked me through calming down and like coach was saying, be mature in the position.”

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The hope is the same maturity helps Jarvis at the plate. His freshman season was impressive in the amount of contact he generated, striking out just seven times in 45 at-bats and walking more than he struck out (eight). The task now is to turn more of that contact into hits — particularly important for a solid baserunner who stole four bases in 2020.

“I learned a lot last year, especially in the extended break we had and coming back in the fall,” Jarvis said. ‘The thing I’ve learned is how to relax. I talked to coaches a lot about it last year, I think that was one of my problems: I was pretty antsy in the box. Especially this preseason, what I’ve tried to do is control my mind. I think I’ve made some progress in that aspect of the game and hopefully I can show it a little bit.”

Reach Brett Hudson at 205-722-0196 or bhudson@tuscaloosanews.com or via Twitter, @Brett_Hudson