DeMatha All-American Jack Bulger weighing college baseball vs. the pros
By Chris McManes
Jack Bulger is pleased with the two major decisions he’s made in his young life. The biggest one awaits.
Bulger, one of the top amateur baseball players in America, just graduated from DeMatha Catholic High School. He has signed to play for reigning national champion Vanderbilt and had interviews with about 25 pro teams. He is under serious consideration to be chosen between the third and fifth rounds of the June 10-11 Major League Baseball Draft.
“It’s definitely been stressful, … but I look at the two options I have: the best baseball college in the country or playing professional baseball,” Bulger said from his home in Bowie. “That brings it into perspective that I really shouldn’t be that stressed.
“Both of my options are insanely good and will set me up for the future.”
Bulger, a 6-foot, 205-pounder, hit .545 as a junior with five home runs, six doubles, three triples and 32 RBIs. He was a first-team All-Met catcher and two-time Gatorade Maryland Baseball Player of the Year (2019, ’20). Under Armour and Perfect Game named him All-American.
Bulger emerged on the national radar during summer 2016, between eighth and ninth grades, when he placed second in the 14U division of the Junior Home Run Derby. The event was held in conjunction with the MLB All-Star Game in San Diego. It is one of several Major League stadiums he has performed in.
He spent last summer playing across the United States and in Korea with the 18U National Team. Pro scouts are impressed by his ability to hit the ball hard. Balls routinely leave his bat at more than 100 miles per hour.
“His power bat is highly sought-after in today’s game,” DeMatha Coach Steve Miller said. “He has an advanced mental approach to the game and how he works pitchers. Defensively, I think he was much better after working with Team USA last summer.”
Bulger spurned playing for Archbishop Spalding in Severn, a program he greatly respects, to attend high school in Hyattsville.
“The relationships I made at DeMatha and the school in general, I have nothing but good things to say,” he said. “It was a brotherhood created with the coaches, the players and the students. I wouldn’t change it for anything.
“It was an incredible experience.”
His next big decision was where to attend college. After seriously considering scholarship offers from Maryland, Virginia, Mississippi State and North Carolina, he chose to head to Nashville, Tenn., and play for Vanderbilt.
Under Coach Tim Corbin, the Commodores are 753-359-1, (.667 winning percentage) and have appeared in 14 straight NCAA Division I Tournaments. They have advanced to the College World Series Finals three times and won two national championships.
Bulger should fit right in at the academically strong private school. During his four years at DeMatha, he carried a 3.85 GPA. If he chooses to attend, class registration is June 8-12. It would also mean he wouldn’t be eligible for the draft again until 2023.
“Vanderbilt is an incredible place,” he said. “I couldn’t be at a better program.”
Bulger explained that before a big-league club chooses him, it will call and present its offer. Teams don’t want to spend a high pick on a guy it can’t sign. While money is a big factor, he said it’s not his only consideration.
“It’s not just the financial aspect of it. … I also have to feel it’s the right fit,” Bulger said. “There has to be a clear path for me to get to the Major Leagues as fast as possible.”
In addition to catching, Bulger also plays left field, third base and pitches. This year, he added second base. It’s his nature to do whatever it takes to help his team win.
The Stags were 6-0 before the pandemic curtailed the 2020 season. They featured three other Division I seniors: Blake Badman (Maryland), Jake Maske (Mount St. Mary’s) and Alex Greene (Virginia). Bulger and Greene attended school together for 12 years.
“I think we only would have lost a couple games all year,” Bulger said.
Miller, whose son, Sean, plays in the Baltimore Orioles organization, said if Bulger takes the pro route, “he’ll be able to handle the ups and downs and all the free time. He has a maturity that is years ahead of players his age.”
Bulger’s immediate future will clear up soon: “It’s going to be interesting to see how it all unfolds.”
Chris McManes (mick-maynz) is an assistant baseball coach at DeMatha.