WASHINGTON – Jake Boone can’t wait to get started on his professional baseball career.
Yes, in some ways it began last summer when he was signed as a non-drafted free agent by the Washington Nationals after he turned down a chance to play as a senior at Princeton University in 2021.
Aiming to be a fourth-generation big leaguer, Boone took part in Instructional League last fall in West Palm Beach with the Nationals but he has not appeared in a pro game yet.
“Instructs was great because prior to that we had a lot of time off,” Boone told Federal Baseball last week from his home in San Diego.
“Just getting out to instructs was awesome and playing some baseball. Since then, it has been even longer” without baseball.
“As of right now, I am just waiting for a hard date to report,” he added. “We will have minor league Spring Training once the big league and Triple-A guys are done. I am very excited about getting down to Florida and getting to work.”
The Ivy League, which includes Princeton, shut down the spring season in 2020 due to the pandemic – and that possible scenario was one reason Boone decided to turn pro last year after playing three years for the Tigers.
The grandson of Bob Boone, a long-time front office member of the Nationals, the younger Boone played middle infield in college. He is the son of Brett Boone, a former Major League infielder.
Jake Boone took classes online last fall from a beach house in South Carolina, then headed home to San Diego for the current semester. He has also been working out with other minor league players from southern California.
Two of those players were Nick Allen, a third-round pick of the Oakland A’s out of his San Diego high school in 2017; and C.J. Stubbs, a 10th-round pick by Houston in 2019 out of Southern California.
“My life the past few months has been waking up, training, going to the cages, and hitting the books, and kind of rinse and repeat,” Boone said.
Boone is an economics major on track to graduate in May. He said Princeton will allow a limited number of family members for a small in-person graduation ceremony, though Boone figures he won’t attend since the low minors plans to begin in early May.
He is not sure which affiliate he will be with.
“I have been working really hard, just trying to stay ready for when we need to report,” he said. “Nothing is certain; they try to get us updated as well as they can.”
Boone’s grandfather, an all-star catcher in his playing days, was at Instructional League last October to see him play. Jake Boone said his grandfather was in Florida for the start of Major League Spring Training in February.
Jake Boone was drafted by the Nationals in the 28th round in 2017 after his senior year of high school but decided to attend Princeton.
His grandfather, Ray, was born in San Diego, went to Herbert Hoover High there and played in the majors from 1948-60. Ray Boone passed away in San Diego in 2004 at the age of 81.
Bob Boone, who also was born in San Diego, played in college at Southern California and then in the Major Leagues from 1972-90.
For good measure his uncle, Aaron, went to USC and played in the majors from 1997 to 2009 as an infielder – including 2008 with the Nationals.
He is now the manager of the New York Yankees.
All together, the Boone family has won two World Series titles, 11 Gold Glove awards, and made 10 All-Star appearances.
Jake Boone’s roommate at Instructional League was fellow infielder Quade Tomlin, signed last year out of his Virginia high school as he turned down a chance to play at Division I Liberty University in his hometown of Lynchburg. Tomlin is the son of Randy Tomlin, who pitched in the majors for the Pirates and is a former minor league pitching coach in the Washington system.
A middle infielder, Boone is aware of some of the possible rule changes in the minors this year passed down from the Major Leagues.
“Something interesting stuff. A lot of it makes sense. We will see how it plays out but is definitely some interesting stuff,” Jake Boone said.