After finishing his career in scarlet and gray in the grandest of fashion, Ohio State baseball’s Jalen Washington added to his resume on Wednesday, being selected by the San Diego Padres in the Major League Baseball draft. A two-time team co-captain, Washington was taken in the 29th round with the 858th overall pick.
This marks the fourth player with Ohio State ties to be drafted this year, following Shea Murray, who went in the 18th round to Pittsburgh, and a pair of recruits in Xavier Moore and Seth Lonsway.
Washington improved over his junior season in 2016, making the transition from catcher to shortstop, and moving to the top of the order from the bottom. The Twinsburg native slashed .266/.350/.468 while starting every game. His five triples and 38 RBIs were both team-highs, while his 14 doubles, seven home runs, and 14 stolen bases all tied for club-best.
He was without a doubt the beating heart of the team, and it’s scary to think how much worse Ohio State would have finished without his leadership and steady demeanor.
After claiming a Big Ten tournament title and NCAA tournament berth in 2016, the Buckeyes had a disappointing season in 2017. The club finished with a 22-34 record, the worst mark during head coach Greg Beals’ tenure at the helm, going 8-16 in conference play and missing out on the Big Ten tournament.
Baseball America ranked Washington the No. 10 draft prospect in the state of Ohio despite his only serving two seasons as an everyday player. As a junior, Washington started 61 of the team's 65 games behind the plate, putting together a .249/.352/.343 slash line, with 11 doubles, three home runs, 38 RBIs, and 14 stolen bases.
The transition to middle infield enabled Washington’s athleticism to be put more thoroughly on display, though his position in the pros may still be something of a question after committing a team-high 21 errors. He could stick to the middle infield, but also certainly has the speed, arm, and baseball IQ to transition to the outfield if need be.
Regardless of where he plays, Washington’s work ethic, leadership, and positive attitude will no doubt serve him and his organization well as he moves on to the next level.