Jackson Holiday goes No. 1 to the Orioles in the MLB Draft

LOS ANGELES — The Major League Baseball draft isn’t about name recognition or instant gratification. He didn’t play in any bowl games in March and didn’t hit a single snap. Even for top picks, the bright lights of the minor leagues await.

On Sunday, however, the draft began with a rare flurry of familiarity. The sons of two decorated outfielders from the 2000s, Matt Holliday and Andrew Jones, were taken with the first two picks — and they were followed by a pitcher rejected by Mathes last year.

The Baltimore Orioles used the No. 1 pick on Jackson Holliday, of Stillwater High School in Oklahoma, who joins Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr. (1987) as the only sons of the major leaguers to be taken first overall. The Arizona Diamondbacks then selected Drew Jones, an outfielder out of Georgia Wesleyan High School, before the Texas Rangers took right-hander Kumar Roker.

Rocker has been a phenomenon for years; As a freshman at Vanderbilt University in 2019, he threw a no-hitter in the NCAA Tournament en route to a College World Series title. In three seasons, he went 28-10 with a 2.89 ERA, averaging 12.2 strikeouts per nine innings. The Mets finished 10th overall last summer.

Their interest waned amid concerns about the rocker’s right arm, and although he has since had minor shoulder surgery, he has played well for the Independent League team this season. He will benefit financially from the ordeal; The slot value of the third pick in this draft is $7.59 million, about $3 million more than his draft slot value last year.

The Mets received the 11th overall pick Sunday as compensation for their inability to sign a rocker, and they used it on Kevin Parade, a sophomore out of Georgia Tech. Parada, a right-handed batter, hit .361 with 26 homers in 2022 and won the Buster Posey Award as the nation’s top college catcher.

“I want to win, I’m a leader, I can hit,” Parada said when asked to describe himself as a player. He said he was trying to be the JT Realmuto of the Posey and Phillies, the catchers he most admired.

“I grew up as a catcher,” he said. “I played a lot of positions during my career, but catching was my home.”

Parada said he also played at the outfield and corner outfield positions. That versatility could help the Mets, whose top prospect, according to MLB.com, is also a 20-year-old catcher: Francisco Alvarez, now at Class AAA Syracuse.

The Mets used their regular first-round pick, No. 14 overall, on Jett Williams, a 5-foot-8 right-handed hitting shortstop from Rockwall-Heath High School outside Dallas. Williams said he modeled himself on smaller stars such as Jose Altuve, Mookie Betts and Alex Bregman and was excited about the Mets’ selection.

“I actually lived in New York when I was 2 to 4 years old,” said Williams, who lived in Port Jefferson, Long Island, while his father attended Stony Brook University School of Medicine. “I’m happy to be back home and can’t wait to go to work.”

The Yankees took 25th overall and selected Spencer Jones, a 6-foot-7, left-handed hitting junior outfielder from Vanderbilt. Jones hit .370 with 12 home runs, a 1.103 on-base plus slugging percentage and 14 stolen bases in 2022.

The middle of the first round included two other players whose fathers played in the majors: Justin Crawford, a speedy, left-handed outfielder from Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas, went to Philadelphia at No. 17, and the Cincinnati Reds used the next pick on Cam Collier, a third baseman and A left-handed batter from Chipola College, a junior college in Florida. Crawford’s father, Carl, was a four-time All-Star, and Collier’s father, Lou, played eight seasons in the majors.

“You have more of an idea of ​​what to expect at the next level,” Justin Crawford said. “That’s the biggest thing I could take away, knowing that it’s not going to be easy. But I think I’ve made a little step because I was able to be there with my dad.”

Jackson Holliday, 18, was a regular at the Colorado Rockies when his father played there, becoming known around the club for imitating batting positions. Matt would call out the name – Jim Edmonds, Nomar Garciaparra, David Ortiz, Albert Pujols – and Jackson would entertain the guests with impressions. He was 3 years old then.

“When you hit the big leagues at 3 years old,” Matt’s father, Tom, said in 2007, “you’re obviously a pretty good showman.”

Holiday’s teammate, Josh Fogg, predicted that Jackson Holiday would one day be a first-round draft pick. Sunday was the day when he was chosen before the others.

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