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Former Tiger catcher ends OSU career with eye on major leagues

Posted: April 28, 2017

by John Benson

 

Being the best Washington he can be. 

 

That’s what has driven Twinsburg’s Jalen Washington, a senior on the Ohio State University baseball team, his entire life. Whether it was playing T-ball, basketball, football or baseball, never too far from his mind was the fact older brother Darius was pushing him while younger brother Devonte was on his heels. 

 

As far as being an athlete, a confident Washington has always been on his toes. That was the case early on in life when he realized his baseball skills separated him from his peers. 

 

“My brother Darius, who is three years older than me, was the best kid in the league,” Washington said. “He threw so hard no one could handle his fastball. I was the only one would could catch him. So I was 6 years old catching his fastballs when he was 9. That’s where it started.”

 

What started was Washington’s love affair with catching. He was also a solid middle infielder. It is those talents that led him from Twinsburg High School, where he lettered in baseball, football and basketball, to the Buckeyes where his versatility has been an asset. 

 

“Last year I caught 60 games, which is almost the whole season,” Washington said. “I fell in love with catching. I really enjoyed it a lot, just being the center of attention and being involved with every single play. 

 

“This year, I transitioned to shortstop. It was kind of a rusty transition. I’m starting to get the hang of it a little bit more and feel more comfortable, but I love catching. I miss it a lot.”

 

Washington’s Buckeye career highlights include being named to the Big Ten All-Tournament Team (2016), two-time captain (2016), Johnny Bench Award Watch List (2016), OSU Scholar-Athlete (2016), Big Ten Players to Watch List (2017) and Sunshine State Classic All-Tournament Team (2017).

 

Considering he’s in his last year of college, Washington is starting to turn his attention to the future, which he hopes includes his name being called during Major League Baseball’s draft later this spring. 

 

“Honestly, it just depends on how the season goes and if I play well,” Washington said. “I’m hoping my draft stock can go up a little bit with the idea I can play both middle infield and catcher. Not too many people can do that. Hopefully that’s something scouts are looking at.”

 

During Washington’s tenure at Twinsburg High, he was definitely something to look at. High school baseball Coach Donald R. Jones said he possessed the unique ability to make his teammates better.

 

“He’s an exceptional young man, who is always concerned with everyone around him,” Jones said. “I’m sure that’s one of the reasons he has been picked as a two-time captain at Ohio State.” 

 

In addition to excelling at baseball, Washington performed under the Friday night lights of the Twinsburg High football field,  where as a talented quarterback he attracted attention from Division 1 schools. 

 

“Through the majority of high school, I thought I was going to play football in college,” Washington said. “At the end of the day, that didn’t work out as well as I wanted it to. Honestly, Ohio State baseball reached out to me my junior year and that’s what I went with.”

 

When reflecting back, Washington said he couldn’t help but also look ahead. 

 

“I’m just thankful,” Washington said. “Twinsburg was a great school, and it was a great platform for me to move on to the next level at Ohio State. Twinsburg is where I drew up all of my dreams and so far I’m living out most of them. I’m just excited where my life is and where it’s headed in the future.” 

 

Invariably, wherever Washington ends up, he will still feel as though his brothers are pushing him. The oldest played baseball and graduated from the University of Akron, while his younger sibling plays baseball at Ohio University. 

 

“Absolutely, we’re always trying to be better than one another,” Washington said. “We’re all three close in age. They’ve always been there for me, and I feel like they made me who I am. 

 

“They pushed me every day. I’m grateful for that,” he said, adding, “I’m just trying to be the best Washington.”

 

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