BILLINGS — Move over Tim Tebow, there’s a new King of Kindness on the baseball diamond.
“He just knows what to do. He does all the right things,” said MSU Billings outfielder Matt Dillon.
“You don’t ever have to worry about Jalen,” echoed Yellowjackets head coach Aaron Sutton. “He comes, he brings it every day. He’s tremendous off the field.”
“He does everything the right way, put it that way,” pitcher Steen Fredrickson said succinctly.
Jalen Garcia isn’t your typical baseball player — on or off the field. Statistically, he’s one of the best MSUB has ever seen, ranking in the career top five of most major offensive categories despite playing only three years.
“He’s a special player,” said Sutton. “He’s one of those guys that can impact the game in so many ways. Obviously, we were really happy that he chose to come back home.”
“I ventured out for a year and kind of saw that baseball wasn’t what I expected out there almost and realized the program here is solid and I could develop and get better here,” Garcia said of his decision to leave Corban University after his freshman season and come back to Billings. “Coming back to Dehler (Park) and this program, coming back home, it’s been a great ride.”
He’s been especially good when the Jackets have needed him most, coming into this weekend’s final regular-season series on a 14-game hit streak, slashing 28 for 60 (.467) over that stretch.
“Just kind of getting more comfortable,” Garcia said. “I had a concussion — I missed like six games — so I’m just trying to get back into the grind. Yeah, I’m feeling comfortable at the plate and it’s nice.”
But he’s been even better off the field. Garcia is devoutly Christian and doesn’t even swear.
“It definitely keeps me in line almost, you know what I mean?” Garcia joked. “I try to be as humble as can be. I mean, it’s easy when you’ve got these guys doing what they’re doing. It’s just who I am, who I’m trying to be.”
“His faith is tremendous,” Sutton said. “He plays for the big man upstairs. You can see that in the way he plays the game. He approaches it day in and day out.”
That’s not easy to do in college athletics, where trash talk is like breathing.
“He takes it in stride, he’ll throw it right back,” said Fredrickson. “Don’t get me wrong, the kid can still throw jokes back.”
“These guys come at me, I’m going to defend myself sometimes,” Garcia laughed.
It’s easy to throw it back from the high road, which is where Garcia likes to be.