There are few things more nerve-wracking for a baseball player than making his professional debut.
Recent San Diego Padres draft picks Jalen Washington (Round 29, Ohio State) and Chandler Seagle (Round 30, Appalchian State) admitted to having some butterflies in their stomachs before playing their first games in Tri-City Dust Devils uniforms this past week, but those jitters seemed to melt away when they crossed over the Gesa Stadium foul lines.
“Before the game, there’s always a little bit of nerves going into it,” Seagle said. “First professional game, so there’s a standard that everyone’s expecting when you take the field. You really wanna exceed expectations when that’s the case, so having the first game under the belt is a big step in the progress I hope to make in this organization.”
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Added Washington: “For sure (there were nerves). I’m just excited to join a new group of guys though. There’s a lot of excitement going around, they’ve been playing really well, so I just want to try to contribute as much as possible, try to keep the nerves down.”
In his debut, Washington mashed a double in the seventh inning to plate Luis Asuncion to cut the Indians’ lead to 4-2, then drew a walk and scored the winning run in the ninth when first baseman Curtis Terry misplayed Justin Lopez’s two-out grounder. Washington was the designated hitter Friday and caught in Saturday’s 6-4 loss to Everett. He was batting .300 with two doubles, two RBIs and two runs scored heading into the series finale Sunday.
Seagle had what Dust Devils hitting coach Hunter Mense referred to as the “at-bat of the night” in his debut when he roped a ball down the first-base line with two outs in the eighth inning for a run-scoring double that leveled the game at 4-4. He also walked and scored in the fifth inning for Tri-City’s first run of the game, finishing the night 3-for-4 with a double.
In addition to the contributions at the plate, Tri-City manager Ben Fritz said the pair of rookie catchers have been solid behind the dish.
“(Seagle) had three knocks and blocked his tail off behind the plate, he caught a great game,” Fritz said. “And Jalen hadn’t caught a lot his senior year — he played shortstop and caught his junior year. And to go back there and have caught like he did a few nights ago, it was very impressive.”
Cuban lefty Adrian Morejon, 18, made his second career start in Thursday’s game and gave up three runs on eight hits over five innings while throwing to Washington.
“He’s got great stuff,” Washington said of the No. 91 prospect in all of baseball (No. 10 LHP) and No. 3 in the Padres organization according to MLBPipeline.com. “He’s just young, gotta learn how to pitch a little bit more. But he’s talented, I was excited to be the one to catch him, and I look forward to continuing to work with him and catch him, hopefully allowing him to get better.”