Jackson Coutts of the Fredericksburg Nationals bats during a game against the Delmarva Shorebirds on June 1, 2021. Credit: Edward Maurer / Fredericksburg Nationals

It remains to be seen if former Orono High School multi-sport standout Jackson Coutts can make it to the Major Leagues.

But Coutts can always say that he at least played in a Major League exhibition game.

Two to be exact.

Coutts is in his second season in the Washington Nationals organization after signing a free agent contract with the Nationals following his 2020 college season at the University of Rhode Island.

The 2020 season was wiped out by the COVID-19 pandemic.

This spring, he played first base in an exhibition game against the Houston Astros and was the designated hitter against the St. Louis Cardinals. He hit a line drive back to the pitcher in his only at-bat.

“It was pretty cool,” said the 23-year-old Coutts, who got to play against former University of Maine shortstop Jeremy Pena, who launched two home runs for the Astros in their game.

Pena will be the starting shortstop for Houston when the Astros open the season on the road against the Los Angeles Angels on Thursday night.

“That was cool to see. He’s unbelievable,” said the left handed-hitting Coutts. “I had a chance to talk to him last season when he was rehabbing [following wrist surgery]. He was standing on first.

“It’s good to see him do well,” he added.

Pena is replacing Carlos Correa, who signed with the Minnesota Twins, and he hit .350 this spring with two homers and nine runs batted in.

Coutts is at extended spring training for Nationals minor leaguers at their complex in West Palm Beach, Florida.

He spent last season in Fredericksburg, Virginia, and in West Palm Beach.

He played sparingly for low Class-A team Fredericksburg and hit just. 154 with a homer, two doubles and eight runs batted in in 19 games.

But when he was sent to the Nationals’ Rookie League team in West Palm Beach, he responded by hitting an impressive .411 with nine doubles, a homer and 14 RBIs in 21 games.

“I was a little disappointed about how things worked out at Fredericksburg. It was definitely tough to get into a groove [when you aren’t playing regularly] but I knew I needed to take advantage of my opportunity in the Rookie League and I did that,” he said.

“I didn’t know what to expect last year. I knew it was going to be a grind. But now that I have gone through all that I did last year, I’m a lot more comfortable with everything. I’ve been around the facilities, I know some people and I know what to expect.”

His strong finish gave him confidence to take into this season, he added.

“Last year was pretty crazy because we hadn’t played baseball in 13 months or so [due the pandemic] so it took some time to get back into it,” he said.

During the offseason, he interned and worked out at a Frozen Ropes indoor baseball-softball facility in Chester, New York, near where his girlfriend works.

He concentrated primarily on his hitting during that time.

He reported to spring training on March 8. They work out at the complex before concluding their day with an intrasquad game.

He said he expects the Nationals to start playing games against the rookies in the New York Mets, St. Louis Cardinals and Florida Marlins organizations.

“I take it day-by-day. I just try to keep improving,” said the son of former UMaine baseball captain, baseball assistant coach and softball coach Mike Coutts and his wife, Lynn.

Lynn (Hearty) is in the UMaine Sports Hall of Fame for her exploits in the pitching circle and was also the head softball coach and an athletic administrator at UMaine before becoming an athletic administrator at Denver.

Mike Coutts is in his first year as the head softball coach at the Colorado School of Mines.

Jackson Coutts said the Nationals have an exceptional coaching staff that has helped his development.

The 6-foot-3, 230-pound Coutts hit .302 with nine homers, 23 doubles, a triple and 62 RBIs in 107 career games at URI. He was having an outstanding junior season when COVID-19 shut down the season as he was 14th in the country among Division I schools in hitting (.451), ninth in slugging percentage (.824), 11th in hits per game (1.77) and 12th in doubles per game (.54).

He said he didn’t know where the Nationals would send him to begin the season.

But he is happy to be pursuing his dream.

“Baseball is fun. It’s what I want to do. I enjoy it so much, it doesn’t seem like work,” Coutts said.