Former University of Georgia two-way star Jared Walsh made his Major League debut Wednesday for the Los Angeles Angels and went 3-for-5 as the starting first baseman.
Walsh, 25, who played for the Bulldogs from 2012-15, is the 39th former Georgia player to reach the Major Leagues. A 39th-round draft pick of the Angels in 2015, he was in the starting lineup Wednesday at first base and batted eighth against the Minnesota Twins in Minneapolis. In the top of the sixth, he notched a single in his third career at bat and ended the day 3-for-5 in an 8-7 loss.
At the end of last season, Walsh, a 6-0, 210-pound left-handed hitting first baseman/outfielder and left-handed reliever, was sent to instructional league by the Angels to refine his pitching with an eye on becoming a two-way player. Then in January, he earned an invitation to Spring Training with the Major League club despite not being on the 40-man roster.
Walsh’s power numbers were hard to ignore in 2018 as he smashed 29 home runs with 34 doubles and 99 RBI in the minors. In 10.2 innings over 13 appearances dating back to last season, he struck out 11 and allowed three earned runs. This year, Walsh was playing in Triple-A Salt Lake and was batting .302 with 12 doubles, 10 home runs, 26 RBI and 19 walks. Also, he had a 3.60 ERA in five relief appearances. Now, he’s listed as a two-way player with the Angels. The organization has another two-way player in Shohei Ohtani who won the American League Rookie of the Year Award in 2018. Walsh is ranked as the club’s No. 20 prospect according to MLB Pipeline. In his minor league career, he batted .295 with 59 home runs and 251 RBI in 397 games.
A native of Duluth, Ga., Walsh made it to Minnesota Tuesday and ended up going to dinner with his mother, Lisa, who flew up from Georgia to see her son’s debut. Jared’s father, Harry, passed away in 2013 due to cancer during his sophomore season with the Bulldogs.
Walsh served as a co-captain as a senior in 2015 and posted a team-best 5-2 record and 2.60 ERA plus hit a career-best .306 with 14 doubles, three home runs and 22 RBI. A four-year letterman, Walsh finished his Bulldog career with a .271 average, seven home runs and 58 RB in 139 games with 116 starts. On the mound, he went 8-7 with a 3.18 ERA in 35 appearances including 16 starts.