Jackson Cluff Gains Perspective
The way shortstop Jackson Cluff sees it, his two years away from competitive baseball helped him become a better player and person.
The 23-year-old Cluff began a two-year Mormon mission in Atlanta in June 2016. In his one season back at Brigham Young in 2019, he hit .327/.458/.518 and went 12-for-12 on stolen base attempts. The Nationals then selected him in the sixth round last year.
"Any time you’re taken away from baseball, you have the opportunity to reflect,” Cluff said. "I felt an increased urgency to get to a high level just because of my age, but at the same time, I gained more of an understanding after experiencing so many different cultures and meeting all types of people, rich and poor.”
The lefthanded-hitting Cluff said when he returned from the mission he put less pressure on himself at BYU and low Class A Hagerstown, where he hit .229/.320/.367 with a team-leading five triples in his pro debut last summer.
His attitude wasn't the only thing that changed for him. After playing third base as a freshman for the Cougars, the 6-foot, 185-pound Cluff played almost exclusively at shortstop last year.
"Jackson Cluff made a nice transition into professional baseball, showcasing his tools and impacting the game immediately with his steady defense at shortstop," farm director Mark Scialabba said. "He ranges well both ways, showed an above-average arm with accuracy and showed solid aptitude in his first season with our club.”
Cluff has a compact swing and plus running ability. He went 11-for-16 in stolen base attempts for the Suns and focused this offseason on improving his speed and jumping ability.
Cluff’s father Paul also starred at BYU and was a 1989 fourth-round pick. He played only one year of minor league baseball before embarking on a career in finance. Jackson, who is about 45 hours away from a finance degree, has spent much of this offseason working out with BYU players.
"It was good to get advice from my dad, especially during the transitions,” Cluff said. "Each time, I needed to learn the speed of the game."
— Righthanded reliever Fausto Segura died Jan. 12 in a motorcycle accident in the Dominican Republic. The 23-year-old was hit by a van, according to ESPN Deportes. Last year, Segura went 2-0, 3.21 in 28 innings for short-season Auburn and pitched in the New York-Penn League all-star game.
— Billy Gardner Jr. was named the new manager at Double-A Harrisburg. He replaces Matt LeCroy, who had two stints as the Senators’ manager and will now serve as minor league quality control coordinator.