WASHINGTON - He is 24 years old and was drafted in the 24th round - but infielder Jake Alu may be playing himself into prospect status with the Nationals.
Picked out of Boston College by Washington, Alu hit .361 in his first 20 games for Double-A Harrisburg after he began the year at high Single-A Wilmington.
Alu has seen time at third and second base for Harrisburg manager Tripp Keister, who was ejected in Saturday’s game at Portland.
Senators skipper Tripp Keister was HEATED.— Minor League Baseball (@MiLB) July 25, 2021
So heated, the jersey had to come off. pic.twitter.com/96jugin4Kl
Jeff Garber, who grew up just a few miles from Harrisburg, has been impressed with New Jersey native Alu. Garber is a long-time infield instructor with the Nationals and has worked with players at every level, from Ryan Zimmerman to Trea Turner to Carter Kieboom - who was called back to the Nationals on Saturday.
“Jake has made great progress on both sides of the ball and is taking advantage of his playing time since returning this season,” Garber wrote on Saturday to Federal Baseball.
Alu played for Auburn in 2019 but didn’t play last year due to the pandemic.
He hit .303 with five homers and 10 doubles with Wilmington in 39 games earlier this season before he went to Harrisburg on July 2.
“He’s a gritty player that comes to play every day,” noted Garber, a shortstop at James Madison University in Virginia. “He is definitely taking advantage of this opportunity.”
Alu has made huge strides since his rookie year when he had just one homer and hit .257 for Auburn, which was then in the New York-Penn League. He went to Princeton Day School in New Jersey.
“Don’t be surprised if you look up in a couple years, and Jake Alu is playing every day at Double-A as kind of like your super utility guy,” Boston College coach Mike Gambino told a New Jersey newspaper in 2019.
“He’s just such a baseball player. When you watch him play, he plays hard. He can bunt, he can run, he can move a runner, he can situationally hit, he can hit the ball out of the ballpark. He can do so many things. He can play second, short and third, right field and left field. If he picks up a couple steps to make center field an option, then you’re gonna have a guy that’s a left-handed hitter who can hit for average and do all the little things you need him to do offensively and play six different positions.”
Alu felt he was picked lower since he is not a large person at 5-foot-9.
“I think it does kind of light a fire under your feet a little bit,” he told the New Jersey paper in 2019. “You’re always gonna be doubted a lot. That’s something a lot of athletes thrive off of. When someone challenges me I like to prove them wrong.”