CULLOWHEE, N.C. — Washington State outfielder/first baseman Jason Monda was born to be a Cougar.
His Washington State roots run deep. Both of his parents attended the university before his father, Greg, spent six years in the minor leagues after the Reds made him their 15th-round pick in 1983.
"Obviously I've been a Coug since day one, so it means a lot to me," Monda said about wearing the crimson and grey. "I'll be a Coug until the day I die and hopefully the Cougar tradition stays in the Monda family for a while."
"His entire family, they all go to Washington State," Washington State head coach Donnie Marbut said with a chuckle. "I think he lives with three cousins and his twin brother (Michael), who is on the team now as a backup catcher for us. Jason's biggest fan is Michael and Michael's biggest fan is Jason, and I think they bring out the best in each other."
Monda was a bit of a sleeper in 2010 out of Capital High in Olympia—an area that some evaluators considered to be underrated in terms of the baseball talent it produces. Monda's skills on the diamond are obvious.
"He's an extremely hard worker," Marbut said. "And if you just look at tools, he possesses all the tools you could possibly want. He can run, he shows arm strength, he has power, he's lefthanded, there's no baseball tools he doesn't have. I think he's one of those guys who just has to play more and put it all together."
The Rockies picked him in the 32nd round, but he only fell that far because of his strong commitment to Wazzu.
"He's gotten more physical, obviously, since coming out of high school and that's probably one of the reasons he didn't sign, besides wanting to get a great education," Marbut said. "And I really think he's gotten to be more comfortable. He's a laid back kind of guy and I think he's just become a little more comfortable in his own skin."
Monda's results haven't quite matched his tools yet and consistency will be key for his draft status this year. He hit .291/.359/.433 as a freshman with nine doubles and two home runs. Last year, he hit .275/.369/.363 with 10 doubles and one home run. Monda said he is working this year to be more patient at the plate.
"He flashes everything you want him to do," Marbut said. "He just has to do it a little more often, and I think he will."
The 6-foot-4, 202-pound Monda has been able to size himself up against the best players in the country the past two summers in the Cape Cod League. He was with the Brewster Whitecaps both years. In 2011, he hit .333 with one home run. Last year, he hit .240 with two home runs.
"Going to the Cape is about the best experience you can have," Monda said. "You're playing against the best players in the country and you learn about yourself a lot, as a player, and what you need to work on. That's something that I really took away from this summer is just certain things I need to work on, so hopefully it'll pay off this year."
Below is video of Monda's at-bats in his game against Western Carolina on Feb. 16, 2013. Despite the 19-degree weather with wind chill, Monda managed to go 3-for-5 with a home run in a 15-10 loss to the Catamounts.
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