SALT LAKE CITY — Salt Lake Bees do-it-all man Jared Walsh had an interesting line in Salt Lake’s 11-4 loss to Las Vegas on July 14.
Two hits, a home run and an inning of pitching with no runs allowed.
Walsh is the latest two-way player in the Los Angeles Angels system, along with Kaleb Cowart. Last season, Los Angeles rookie Shohei Ohtani made waves in the baseball world, starting as a pitcher and also appearing as a designated hitter. In 2018, Ohtani became the first major league player since Babe Ruth to pitch 50 innings and hit 15 home runs.
While Walsh doesn’t envision being used quite like Ohtani, he is happy to be able to contribute both on the mound and at the plate in the Angels’ system.
“Shohei and I are in different roles. I don’t think I’ll ever be a front-line starter in the major leagues as a pitcher, and that’s something I’m fine with, but if I can be a great hitter that contributes as a pitcher, that’s enough for me," Walsh said. "I’ve watched Shohei a lot, talked to him a little bit about some hitting stuff and how he’s balanced the hitting and pitching.”
Walsh is no stranger to pitching, having hurled for Georgia in college. His senior season, he threw 55 innings and finished with an ERA of 2.60.
This season for Salt Lake, Walsh has thrown eight innings of relief for the Bees, with an ERA of 3.38. Walsh’s favorite moment pitching this season came on May 10, when he earned a save in an 8-7 victory over Las Vegas that went 11 innings.
“I got a save against Las Vegas, so that’s something I was really excited about," Walsh said. "We were on a little bit of a rough patch and I came in and got a save."
Walsh has also pitched in the big leagues, pitching in 4.1 innings over four games for the Angels, most recently on July 19. His major league ERA currently stands at 2.08.
“It was incredible, everything I hoped and much more. The guys in the clubhouse were awesome, they gave me so much advice and treated me like I belonged, so I’m grateful for that. It’s something that, after you experience it, you want to get back any way you can. Whether that’s as a hitter or a pitcher, I’m not going to complain. Any time you’re up in the big leagues, it’s something that’s very exciting,” Walsh said of his time with the Halos.
Up with the Angels, Walsh also hit a walk-off single on May 25 to give Los Angeles its first walk-off win.
“Wasn’t the best ball I’ve ever hit, but a hit’s a hit, so I’ll take it. Definitely a moment I’ll never forget. I kind of blacked out a little bit, so the pictures tell a story that I don’t even necessarily remember that well. It’s something that I’ll look back on for the rest of my life with a smile,” Walsh said.
One challenge for Walsh has been the transition during games, when he has to go from batter, to pitcher, and then have another at-bat.
“That actually has been pretty difficult, not necessarily changing it to pitching, but if I have to come in and have another at-bat, it’s pretty hard to go from hitting, to pitching, back to hitting. That’s something that Kaleb Cowart and I have really talked about and tried to work on, because that’s something difficult to do. It’s just trusting your preparation prior to the game, then you go out there and just have fun after that,” Walsh said.
Bees manager Lou Marson has been impressed with what’s he’s seen out of Walsh this season.
“He’s been great coming in when we need him on the mound. He’s continued to get his work in, he goes out with the pitchers, throws sides. He’s done well, he’s done well,” Marson said.
On the offensive side, Walsh is having his best year ever at the plate, hitting .311 with a .625 slugging percentage and a 1.047 OPS. In addition to pitching, Walsh also plays first base and has played in the outfield.
“Offensively, he drives the ball all over the field and has great at-bats. He’s got some pop. He continues to impress me,” Marson said. "He's great at first base around the bag, picking balls, he's a great defensive first baseman as well."