After Enjoying Superb Senior Season for BC Baseball, PDS Alum Alu Picked in MLB Draft, Now in Minors
NATIONAL CAMPAIGN: Jake Alu takes a swing in action this spring during his senior season for the Boston College baseball team. Former Princeton Day School standout Alu enjoyed a big final campaign for the Eagles, hitting a team-high .343 to get named as an All-Atlantic Coast Conference performer. He was selected in the 24th round of the MLB draft last month by the Washington Nationals and is currently playing for the Auburn (N.Y.) Doubledays, a Class A Short Season team that competes in the New York-Penn League. (Photo provided courtesy of BC Athletics)
By Bill Alden
Jake Alu brought a special sense of urgency into his final campaign for the Boston College baseball team.
After a breakthrough sophomore season in 2017 which saw former Princeton Day School star Alu hit .331 and earn All-New England honors, he slumped as junior with his batting average plummeting to .216.
“I had like a little fire under my feet, I wanted to prove that my sophomore year was not a fluke,” said Alu, a 5’10, 175-pound infielder. “I wanted to have a strong senior season and potentially get a chance to play pro baseball.”
Mission accomplished on both counts as Alu batted a team-high .343 to get named as an All-Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) performer and was selected in the 24th round of the MLB draft last month by the Washington Nationals.
Getting off to a strong start this spring, Alu went 10-for-18 for a .555 clip in his first five games.
“It is not pivotal but it helps me. You are only climbing and feeling good going in,” said Alu.
“You are not worrying that I am 1-for-10 and I am batting .100 right now. You have 10 at-bats and you go 3-for-3 and you are batting .300.”
Although Alu hit some rough spots in the middle of the campaign, he didn’t let that worry him.
“In my senior season when I was struggling a little bit, I knew I had to get back to the simple things,” explained Alu.
“I learned how to fix my swing and have a simpler approach when I was struggling and minimize that bad stretch instead of letting it pile on.”
As the Eagles went 31-27 overall, Alu savored competing in the high-powered ACC.
“The Florida State series was really fun; it is always fun playing there, the atmosphere there is incredible,” recalled Alu.
“We were able to take two out of three from them, we had 41 hits as a team so that stood out. I think the ACC tournament game was a big highlight for me and for the team, just to prove that the small ACC team which is supposed to be at the bottom of the pack is able to play in the ACC semifinals. That was pretty cool.”
Reflecting on his BC career, Alu is proud of his growth on and off the field.
“The coach, Mike Gambino, cares more about the person that you become rather than the player,” said Alu, who ended his BC career with a .302 average, 176 hits, and 105 runs.
“He likes both but he really tried to shape you as a man. I can’t even begin to tell you how much I have learned about life and baseball though college. I think it was a great choice for me to go to BC.”
As Alu went through the spring, he took steps to achieve his goal of going on to pro ball.
“There is a prospect portal from MLB; it simplifies things, there are questions on line and I filled out a bunch of those for a fair amount of teams,” said Alu.
“I knew I was on the radar of some teams. As a senior…you don’t have leverage, so you are in the dark going into the draft. I kind of knew that I was going to get chance to play. I didn’t know when I would be drafted. It could have went earlier, it could have went a lot later.”
Following the draft from home in Hamilton, Alu and his family were thrilled to hear his name called by the Nationals.
“I wasn’t watching it specifically; I was sitting on the couch in the living room and I just heard my
mom scream,” said Alu.
“At first, just getting drafted was the coolest thing in the world. It was a dream come true to get a chance to play a game and get paid for it. I had no clue it was going to be by the Nationals, that was cool. Their facilities are incredible, they have the newest complex down here in West Palm out of any minor league team and my best friend growing up, Anthony Peroni, is on the Nationals.”
Having been assigned by the Nationals to play for their Auburn (N.Y.) Doubledays affiliate, a Class A Short Season team that competes in the New York–Penn League, Alu is looking to utilize his versatility, having played outfield as well as infield during his college career.
“That was one of the things they really liked about me, being a utility guy,” said Alu, who is batting .400 with 10 hits in 25 at-bats in seven games for the Doubledays.
“Being able to play anywhere, it helps you move up the system a lot easier because there is leeway where they can put you and get you in the lineup. I am probably going to play most leg infield positions besides first and in the outfield if someone needs a break.”
Aiming to someday play in the Majors, Alu is bringing his customary sense of urgency to Auburn.
“The goals are set, I am just going to keep working,” said Alu. “I am a smaller guy so I have always had that fire to prove people wrong. I am carrying that along with me.”