The first night of the MLB Draft included the sons of two household names in baseball going 1-2, Kumar Rocker going at No. 3 in an under-slot deal with Texas that will reunite him with his college rotation-mate Jack Leiter, Carl Crawford’s son, Justin, goes No. 17 to the Phils, and four of the top five picks were prep stars.
All of which is to say, the first night of the MLB Draft was packed with storylines and intrigue. The problem is, Major League Baseball sucks at marketing their sport, and most casual baseball fans either had little interest in the draft or didn’t even know it was happening. I do this for a living and didn’t even remember it was last night until about 2 pm yesterday when I was getting ready to hit the golf course.
The NFL drafts with a week-plus long party and media extravaganza that featured a red carpet on the Bellagio Fountains a few months ago. The NBA Draft gets plenty of national love and air time, and the first round of the NHL Draft was on ABC in prime time two weeks ago.
MLB’s response? We’ll just stick to what we’re doing by barely advertising the event, burying it on the Sunday before the ASG like it’s the Legends and Celebrity Softball Game that no one gives a crap about, and airing everything after the multi-hour first round exclusively on our subscription cable TV network.
And they wonder why other pro sports are lapping their antiquated league. This is coming from a baseball fan above all other sports. It’s equal parts frustrating and disappointing to see baseball refusing to escape their ways.
Like Father, Like Son
Matt Holliday and Andruw Jones were two household names in baseball at the turn of the century. While they took two different paths to MLB stardom (Jones signed with Atlanta as an amateur free agent at 16 years old in 1993 while Holiday was drafted in the seventh round of the 1998 MLB Draft), their children will be taking similar paths to the bigs after they were drafted back-to-back with the top two picks in the MLB Draft on Sunday evening.
The Baltimore Orioles took Holiday’s son Jackson No. 1, and Jones’ son Druw was taken No. 2 by the Arizona Diamondbacks, marking the first time in MLB Draft history that two sons of former Major Leaguers went 1-2.
Jackson Holliday joins other notable prep shortstops taken overall in the draft, including Carlos Correa (2012), Justin Upton (2005), Alex Rodriguez (1993), and Chipper Jones (1990). This is pretty wild, and I’m paying extra attention to the gray in my hair this morning.
Hollliday and Jones weren’t the only sons of former big leaguers taken in last night’s first round. The Philadelphia Phillies took former big-leaguer Carl Crawford’s son Justin at No. 17. Like Holiday and Jones, Crawford was a prep player with Crawford playing at the famed Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas (Joey Gallo is among the notable MLB alumni).
Plenty more players were taken in the first two rounds of last night’s MLB Draft with bloodlines in professional baseball and other sports, and you can read about them here.
Keith Law helps you get ready for Day 2 of the MLB Draft (which kicks off at 1pm ct) here:
Rangers Roll the Dice on Rocker
After not signing with the Mets following being taken No. 10 by New York and forgoing his senior season at Vanderbilt to play for the Tri-City ValleyCats in the Frontier League this season, Kumar Rocker can breathe easy knowing that he’ll be starting his journey to the majors soon. Rocker will be doing so in a farm system headlined by his former Vandy rotation-mate, Jack Leiter, after the Texas Rangers took Rocker No. 3 last night.
The Rangers get a fire-baller who smashed records at Vanderbilt and bet on himself for the last year despite concerns around his medical reports. Texas Rangers GM Chris Young said that Texas is comfortable with the medicals they’ve gathered on Rocker.
“We’re extremely comfortable with the medical review that our medical team has done,” Young said last night. “Obviously, Kumar has been under the care of one of the leading orthopedic surgeons in the world. He’s been under great supervision throughout his rehab, he’s been pitching healthy. We’re very comfortable with the medical review, and that’s why we drafted him.”
Rocker and Jack Leiter – who the Rangers drafted second-overall last year – tied for the national lead in strikeouts with 179-a-piece in their final season at Vanderbilt, one that ended with a trip to the College World Series Finals. The co-aces at Vanderbilt will be a problem for opposing hitters in Texas soon.
As Kennedi Landry wrote last night at MLB.com and reported today, the Rangers are expected to sign Rocker at an under-slot value, which will allow them to go over slot on a player in the fourth round (Texas doesn’t have a second or third-round pick due to the offseason signings of Corey Seager and Marcus Semien) that might have fallen due to injury concerns or signability issues.
The Rangers came into the draft with a total draft pool of $9,640,700, so Rocker signing for $5.2 million leaves them with roughly $4.4 million to work with on day two of the draft. The slot value for the No. 3 pick was $7,587,600, so Rocker’s signing comes in at about $2.38 million under the slot value.
Streaking M’s Make History
The Seattle Mariners are rolling into the All-Star break with a 14-game winning streak, the longest winning streak heading into an All-Star break in MLB history. They’ve also won 22 of their last 25 games, becoming the first team since 2017 to accomplish that feat.
Their social team is also heading into the All-Star break with a W:
The Mariners are 14-1 in July, good for the most wins in baseball this month. The M’s need just four wins after the break to tie the 2001 Mariners for their most wins in July and six wins to tie their franchise mark for most wins in a month (20). The Mariners have won 20 games in a single month four times previously, with three of those four months coming in 2001, when they won an MLB-record* 116 games that season.
*I feel obligated (so I don’t get fired) to mention that the 2001 M’s are tied for the most wins in MLB history with the 1906 Cubs, who also won 116 games when baseball was played by dudes that drink beer and eat red meat like the rest of us, and the Ford Model T was brand spanking new on the lot with a sticker price of $850.
(Michael: That feeling of obligation was accurate.)
Ty France was named to the AL All-Star team on Sunday, and the Mariners clubhouse was fired up!
Odds and Ends …
- Luck was not on Chris Sale’s side on Sunday when an Aaron Hicks liner smoked him in the hand and broke his pinky finger just two starts into his return from Tommy John surgery and rehab. Sale was 24 pitches into the first inning on Sunday. Sale will see a hand specialist during the break to determine what’s next.
- D-Backs’ prospect Leandro Cedeno SMASHED a 527-foot home run last night. No, not a typo, FIVE-TWENTY-SEVEN!
- While we’re on the topic of MLB sucking today … Dylan Cease leads baseball with 150 strikeouts and owns a 2.15 ERA, and he’s allowed three earned runs and struck out 79 over his last 10 starts. Still, he’ll be watching the ASG on his couch like the rest of us.
- Jackson Holliday in his father’s arms after the Colorado Rockies won the NLCS in 2007. Ironically, they knocked off the Diamondbacks, who took Druw Jones right behind Jackson in the draft.
- There’s another ASG snub case to be made for Aaron Nola:
- After tonight’s HRD in Los Angeles:
- Enjoy the Derby tonight!