Jackson Cluff’s days in a BYU uniform were short and sweet.
The sophomore shortstop was selected in the sixth round of the major league baseball draft on Tuesday, chosen by the Washington Nationals with the 183rd overall pick.
Cluff is expected to sign with the Nationals and begin his professional baseball career, likely in rookie ball with the Gulf Coast League Nationals or with the Auburn Doubledays of the Class A Short Season League, the same level as the Orem Owlz.
Cluff is the highest BYU draft choice since Jacob Hannemann was selected by the Cubs in the fourth round in 2013.
As a freshman from Meridian, Idaho, in 2016, Cluff was a part-time starter and hit .279 in 68 at-bats. He returned from a church mission to Georgia last June and made a huge impact during the 2019 season, helping BYU to a West Coast Conference regular-season title.
“I would definitely say the biggest thing was the confidence the coaching staff and my teammates had in me,” Cluff said. “I can’t say enough about helping me to step up and come in without missing a beat. Physically, that stuff goes away pretty quick (on a mission). The hardest thing to get back is your baseball IQ because you’re not thinking about it for two years.”
Cluff was one of two BYU players who started all 53 games (senior Brock Hale was the other) and led the Cougars in runs (57), doubles (20), RBI (56), on-base percentage (.458) and assists (156). Cluff hit .327 and was 12 of 12 in stolen bases. He was selected as first team All-WCC.
He was also valued as a team leader.
“He sets the bar high,” BYU coach Mike Littlewood said. “He’s not going to let anyone go under that bar of expectations, and he’s going to let them know.”
Cluff was given an approximate pick value of $266,000 so his signing bonus would be near that figure according to mlb.com.
Cluff’s father, Paul, was a fourth round pick after graduating from BYU in 1989.