To Jake Alu, it doesn’t seem that unusual that he’s thriving at Double-A two years after being drafted in the 24th round.
“I always felt like I was a good fielder and hitter,” the 5-foot-10, 175-pound Alu said. “I’m just playing how I always play.”
Alu has played third base, second base and first base for Harrisburg. The 24-year-old was hitting .285/.333/.462 through 44 games for the Senators after spending his first 39 games with High-A Wilmington.
Overall, Alu had 10 home runs and was 13-for-15 in stolen bases while batting .294/.345/.475. He went on the injured list Aug. 24 with a knee injury, but it was considered minor.
A four-year player at Boston College, Alu played at short-season Auburn in 2019. Last year he had just three days at minor league spring training before being sent home to Hamilton, N.J., for the spring and summer.
“The big thing with the Covid year was that I got in the gym and got stronger while working on my swing,” Alu said.
Alu also took stock of what it would take to succeed on the mental side of the game.
“When you get to pro ball, you have to make adjustments as soon as you can,” he said. “Instead of doing that each at-bat to the next at-bat, I’m trying to adjust to each pitch.”
Harrisburg manager Tripp Keister typically starts the lefthanded-hitting Alu against lefties and righties.
“He’s just continued to hit, continued to have good at-bats every day,” Keister said. “That’s a credit to him and a credit to our scouts. He’s an interesting kid because he just comes to the plate every night and puts up numbers.”
Alu, who was signed by scout John Malzone, thrived on the competition in the Atlantic Coast Confernece and now is doing the same in the minor leagues.
“I’ve always sort of been an underdog in my head growing up,” Alu said, “but I knew that it comes down to performance. I just love being one of the nine guys out there.”
— For two weeks, Alu was reunited with former Boston College teammate Donovan Casey, a versatile outfielder. One of the four players acquired in the deal that sent Max Scherzer and Trea Turner to the Dodgers, Casey hit .347/.353/.612 in 49 at-bats for Harrisburg before getting off to a hot start at Triple-A Rochester.
“I was texting him as soon as it happened,” Alu said. “It was great to be back on the field with him. He’s a very energetic guy.”
— Shortstop Brady House hit a grand slam in his second professional game in the Rookie-level Florida Complex League. House, the 11th pick in the 2021 draft, signed for $5 million. He had five hits, including two home runs, in his first nine at-bats.