The MLB draft will never be as much of a spectacle as the NBA or NFL drafts, for the simple fact that the guys who get drafted, even the really good ones, won’t be seen on a major-league field for several years. But! There is one thing baseball’s draft has over football’s and basketball’s, and that thing is sons.
It’s always both thrilling and a bit alarming to skim the list of drafted players, notice one with a familiar last name, and think, Hey, is he that one guy’s son? Then you look the player up and discover that, yes, wow, that is indeed a son. How is he in the draft already? That’s crazy! What the fuck?
This year’s MLB draft, which got underway yesterday, has already surpassed all previous iterations in terms of son-recognition. For the first time in the history of the draft, four sons of former MLB players were selected in the first round, and two of those sons were selected back-to-back, at No. 1 and No. 2 overall. The first son off the board was Jackson Holliday, son of Matt. Then there was Druw Jones, son of Andruw, going to the Diamondbacks. The next son, Carl Crawford’s lad Justin, had to wait around until pick No. 17 for the Phillies to draft him. And finally we had Cam Collier, son of Lou, snatched up by the Reds at No. 18.
So, are any of these sons going to be any darn good? Jones, a center fielder out of Wesleyan High School in Georgia, was ranked as the No. 1 prospect in the draft by most tape-eaters and draft-knowers, and is even considered by some to be the best high school prospect since Bryce Harper. One thing that is cool about Jones is that, just like his father, he’s a defensive wizard in center and can throw the fuck out of the baseball. He’s also 6-foot-4, three inches taller than his dad, and could develop quite a bit of power as his frame fills out. He still has a long way to go before becoming a solid or even great MLB player, but Larger Andruw Jones sounds like a fun player to root for.
Holliday, also a high school player, is a bit less like his dad in that he plays shortstop and does not profile as the same sort of hulking dinger-masher that his father was. But he is very much like his dad in that he is already developing a perfectly square head.
Collier and Crawford were ranked No. 8 and No. 13, respectively, on MLB.com’s draft prospect board, and they are both high school players. Collier, who is just 17, was one of the youngest players in the draft and projects to be a corner infielder or outfielder with some pop. Crawford, who it must be said looks exactly like his father, projects as a solid defensive outfielder who can hit with some pop and run like hell. So, basically, he plays a lot like his dad.
Yesterday was a big moment for all of these sons, and now they get to spend the next few years playing under god-awful minor league conditions while having their service time manipulated so that the teams who selected them can lock them into the cheapest possible salaries for as many years as possible. But hey, maybe these teams have just discovered a new market inefficiency: If you draft someone whose father was a well-compensated MLB player, they might be less likely to have their development suffer under the weight of playing professional baseball for poverty wages while knowing they won’t be free to choose their own workplace until they are in their mid-20s. Not the worst idea anyone ever had!
As for us, we’ll just have to wait a few years before some important questions get answered. Will these sons become more powerful than their fathers? Will one of them one day claim the mantle of Greatest Baseball Son from Barry Bonds? Wouldn’t it be kind of cool if Carl came back for a year to play with Justin? He’s only 40!