By: Will Wetzel
Jake Dukart, like many other athletes, excelled at more than one sport. While at Lake Oswego High School, Dukart stood out as an excellent football quarterback while thriving on the baseball diamond.
When it came time to go to college, Dukart made a difficult decision: he would commit to the football team and go to Oregon State on a football scholarship. This plan of his, however, changed not too long after his arrival. Dukart opted to walk away from the football team late last month. The Lake Oswego High School graduate turned in his pads and headed a few blocks west on campus to Goss Stadium, eager to begin the next chapter of his college athletic career.
“I’m having a great time,” said Dukart to The Oregonian. “The guys have been super welcoming and the coaches are helping me get through some early rust since I haven’t played baseball in a little bit.”
Dukart has been practicing with the baseball team since September 29th, a day of immense importance to the standout athlete. It marked the start of a new chapter in his collegiate career, turning the page on his life as a football player to one as a baseball player. Walking away from football was not an easy decision for Dukart by any means. It was a decision that required much contemplation and deliberation. Dukart explained how he began to have doubts starting over the summer, which only intensified once he found out highly-rated transfer Tristan Gebbia joined the team from Nebraska.
“It really started back in June when I first got down here,” Dukart said to The Oregonian. “As summer kept going and once fall came along, I just talked to my parents a bunch trying to figure out what’s best for me right now and down the road.”
Considering the level of talent Dukart possessed, it was no surprise that sitting behind Jake Luton, Conor Blount, Jack Colletto, and Aidan Willard was not the best situation for him. More important, however, was his passion for the game of baseball, which Dukart routinely expressed.
“Coach Smith was super supportive of it, which was awesome,” Dukart said to The Oregonian. “Because I love both sports and it was hard for me. It just came down to what I wanted to do most and what I was more passionate about, and that was baseball.”
Jake Dukart is used to making tough decisions. He has made them all throughout his life.
When the Boston Red Sox drafted him in the 36th round, Dukart had to choose whether to commit to baseball or football. He had committed to play football at Oregon State the previous summer and followed that by signing a letter of intent in December 2017. However, 36th-rounders generally do not get paid much. As a result, it was no surprise that Dukart and his family prioritized education and playing college football over joining the Red Sox organization. However, playing college football did not turn out as Dukart had hoped. He had been hoping to compete and possibly earn the starting job. However, once Gebbia transferred to Cornvallis, Dukart saw that his best chance to compete was on the baseball team.
With Dukart now focusing on baseball, the question becomes how long will it take for him to get back up to speed. He has not played a full baseball season since his days at Lake Oswego where he starred as a phenomenal hitter:
|JAKE DUKART LAKE OSWEGO HS 2018 STATISTICS|
|Batting Average||On-Base Percentage||Extra Base Hits||Stolen Bases||Strikeouts|
Source: The Oregonian
Profiling as a shortstop in his high school days, Dukart displayed an admirable ability to be able to make solid contact while posing as a threat on the basepaths. As a result, Dukart excelled at creating runs with his high contact rate and speed. It was two aspects of his game that resulted in him being the highest-ranked shortstop in the state of Oregon in the 2018 Recruiting Class.
It remains to be seen how much playing time Dukart will see on the baseball diamond. However, due to the roster turnover in the offseason thanks to professional contracts and graduations, Dukart will be given an opportunity to compete for a starting job immediately.
The Beavers’ infield certainly has a lot of holes to fill. They will be looking to fill the second base, shortstop, and third base positions after Nick Madrigal, Cadyn Grenier, and Michael Gretler left the team. Madrigal and Grenier agreed to professional contracts while Gretler’s eligibility expired. All three players played major roles in securing a World Series title for Oregon State.
Utility infielder Andy Armstrong figures to have the inside track for the starting second base spot after filling in for Nick Madrigal last season when the latter missed time with a broken left wrist. That leaves Dukart competing with Kyler McMahan, Ryan Ober, Zack Zalesky, junior college transfer Beau Philip and George Mendazona for playing time.
Whoever Oregon State decides to start, the team will be much better for it as the healthy competition in the offseason will ultimately make them a better team this spring when they look to defend their championship.