Darren Baker, son of former major leaguer and one-time Nationals’ skipper Dusty Baker, did not sign with Washington after the club drafted him in the 27th Round in 2017, opting instead to attend college at the University of California - Berkeley, where the infielder finished his four-year collegiate career with a .303/.363/.339 line.
In 2021, Baker, 22, finished the year with a .327 AVG, six doubles, 17 RBIs, 28 walks, 28 stolen bases, and 40 runs scored, and on Monday, the Nationals selected him again with their 10th Round pick in this year’s draft.
“He kind of dialed it up a notch this year, stole a bunch of bags,” Nats’ Assistant GM and VP of Scouting Operations Kris Kline said on a Zoom call following the second day of the 2021 MLB Draft.
“Had a nice year and you pull for these guys like this. He’s been around the game his whole life.
“We were very excited to get him where we got him. I’m sure Dusty is pretty pumped too.”
The Nationals have been following the younger Baker since he was in high school, attending Jesuit High School in Carmichael, CA.
”I think when we first saw him,” Assistant Director of Amateur Scouting Mark Baca said on Monday night, “he was probably a junior in high school ... but we were scouting him, he was going into his senior year. And he had really good ability at that time, so this was one player we have seen for a long, long time.”
Baker, by his own estimation, gained 30 to 35 pounds in his first two years at college, and as Kline said last night, they were watching to see how he developed both physically and talent-wise while at college before drafting him again.
“With Darren,” Kline said, “you look at dad and you’re thinking, ‘Okay, well, Darren is going to fill out. We’re going to wait for him to fill out a little bit, but wiry, and very athletic,’ so you know this is a guy that when he gets out in pro ball, I would love him to see if he could just master the ability to drag bunt, maybe do that once or twice a game, get 10, 15, 20 extra base hits, and utilize his best asset, which is his speed.”
Four years after they first drafted him, Baca said, the Nationals’ scouts still liked what they saw.
“Obviously you’ve got bloodlines there, but he’s a really good player. Intelligent, you watch him play on the field, so that’s a big trait, he’s got tools, he’s very versatile. He can play second, play center, he can run, so that was obviously, with his father Dusty, we really liked the player, everything about the way that his clock works, great instincts. We really like the player.”