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03/13/09 7:54 PM ET

McGeary skips spring, summer quarters

Nationals' former sixth-round pick will return to Stanford in fall

KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Left-hander Jack McGeary, the Nationals' sixth-round pick in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft, has decided to take the spring and summer quarters off from Stanford University to concentrate on baseball. McGeary will return to school in the fall.

McGeary, 19, made the announcement Friday at Nationals Training Complex in Viera, Fla., with assistant general managers Mike Rizzo and Bob Boone by his side.

Reports surfaced in January that McGeary was going to quit school altogether, but those reports proved to be false. At that time, McGeary and his agent, Brodie Van Wagenen, did not return phone messages.

"It didn't bother me," McGeary said of the rumors.

McGeary -- signed to a professional contract and therefore ineligible to play college baseball -- wants to concentrate on baseball because he liked the way he pitched for the Gulf Coast Nationals and Class A Vermont the last couple of months of the 2008 season. He pitched in a combined 13 games, going 2-2 with a 4.13 ERA.

After the fall quarter, McGeary will decide once again if he will concentrate on baseball full-time. He needs four quarters before he graduates from Stanford. Previously, McGeary would leave Nationals camp for the spring quarter and wouldn't return to the organization until June.

"I was happy with last year with the way I played," McGeary said. "I'm just ready to be a full-time player, but I also got a lot of school done. I'm way ahead of schedule for graduating, so I'm able to take some time off.

"I definitely improved a lot, especially the last couple of months of last season and got into a rhythm of coming to the park every day. It's one of the reasons I'm making this decision, because I feel like being a professional playing the whole season and doing what everybody else is doing."

McGeary, who is majoring in classics, continues to work hard when it comes to his education. He currently is studying for two finals and writing two papers for next week. One of those papers is a feature on John Lowe, who covers the Tigers for the Detroit Free Press.

"He is a highly educated, intelligent young man with great ability as a baseball player," Rizzo said. "We are thrilled to death he is going to put more focus on the baseball side. He is certainly not going to give up on graduating from Stanford. We believe he can do both. He thinks he can. We are very happy about it."

McGeary most likely will start the season with Class A Hagerstown as long as his Spring Training goes well, according to Boone. The team believes being a full-time player will accelerate his progress.

"He looks like a high-school signee that is progressing," Boone said. "I think he felt he got a taste of the instructional league and that kind of whetted his whistle to say, 'Hey, I have to get into this.' This is a perfect time to do it. He came in with command. Hopefully, he still has it."

After being drafted in 2007, McGeary said he was not going to sign with Washington unless he received first-round money, and the Nationals gave it to him. McGeary received a $1.8 million signing bonus and the team is paying for his education.

McGeary was named the 2007 Gatorade Player of the Year for the state of Massachusetts after going 6-1 with a 0.88 ERA in seven starts as a senior for Roxbury Latin High School in West Roxbury. He struck out 80 in 40 innings, leading his club to a share of the Independent School League championship.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.