DHS’s Washington drafted by Brewers

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 10, 2005

There were a lot of ballplayers selected in this week’s Major League Baseball draft before the Milwaukee Brewers picked DHS All-State right fielder G.W. Washington in the draft’s 44th round. But there are thousands more out there who’d give just about anything to have the shot Washington received when his name was called out Wednesday.

“He’s a tools guy. He can run, he can catch, he’s got great arm strength,” says Brewers scout Joe Mason, who lives in Montgomery and has watched Washington develop for years. “We felt maybe he could really come on with more [physical] maturity. …He has a chance at being a real player.”

But Washington, a left-handed batter who finished DHS’s title season with 4 homers, 30 RBIs, and a .394 average won’t be skipping off to play minor league ball just yet. He signed a scholarship offer with Alexander City’s Central Alabama Community College last January 20, and Mason says the Brewers plan on letting him develop at C.A.C.C. for a season before considering signing him. A knee injury that hampered Washington in the latter part of DHS’s championship run makes the Brewers’ decision to wait even more likely.

“We’re going to watch him for a year,” Mason says. “We think once he gets his knee fixed, he’ll be an even better player.”

The Brewers retain his draft rights for a calendar year, leaving a window between the end of C.A.C.C.’s season and the 2006 draft in which Washington could be signed. If not, he will be eligible to be drafted again. DHS head baseball coach James Moody says that if Washington continues improving the way he has the previous two seasons, a professional contract will become a real possibility.

“The last two years he’s made great strides to get to this point,” Moody says. “He’s in good position. If he has a great year next year it’ll really open the door for him.”

Although not necessarily expecting Washington’s selection, Moody says it makes sense to draft a player with the kind of potential Washington carries.

“I think it’s an indication of the talent he possesses,” Moody says. “The thing they’re looking at is, he’s 6′ 2″ and weighs 175, so he can probably carry 30, 35, 40 more pounds on his frame. And with the talent and skills he has…those are hard to teach.”

Washington is the third DHS player drafted during Moody’s tenure with the team, following Justin Barnes and Jason Smith, who was also drafted straight out of Demopolis and has spent most of the 2005 season with the Detroit Tigers. Moody says he’s proud of Washington and glad for the further recognition his selection will give his team.

“It’s not everyday you get somebody drafted out of Demopolis High School,” Moody says. “It’s a good time for our program.”

It’s a sentiment Mason, who has worked alongside Moody at baseball camps and has followed Washington since he was 14, might agree with, though he says there’s enough eyes out there that any player who shines the way Washington has will draw attention.

“If you can play, ” he says, “somebody’s going to find you.”

Attempts to reach Washington for comment Thursday were unsuccessful.