Draft Notes: Whitson, Ripken, Rivera, Manziel

Most of the top talents in the MLB draft are taken in the first two days, and many of the highest-upside players remaining on Day 3 are high school players who are likely to go to college rather than turn pro. The 11th round is the first round of Day 3 and also the first round in which teams don’t lose pool money if they don’t sign a player, so several of the top prospects remaining, such as Oklahoma junior college pitcher Dean Deetz (Astros),  Oklahoma high school pitcher Nick White (Marlins) and Fresno State pitcher Jordan Brink (Cubs), went early in that round. In general, however, many of the big stories of Day 3 are players who made waves in the draft in previous years or players with connections to past MLB players. Here are a few of those.

  • The Red Sox drafted pitcher Karsten Whitson in the 11th round. Whitson, now a college senior, was the No. 9 overall pick by the Padres in 2010, but he turned down an offer of about $2MM so that he could enroll at the University of Florida instead. As Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal explains, Whitson had shoulder surgery last year and spent this season trying to establish himself. He struggled with his command, but threw as hard as 96 MPH in the SEC tournament. He has a year of NCAA eligibility left, so he can return to school if the Red Sox don’t sign him.
  • The Nationals selected first baseman Ryan Ripken, Cal Ripken Jr.’s son, in the 15th round. The younger Ripken is a 6-foot-6 lefty first baseman out of a Florida junior college.
  • Cal Ripken wasn’t the only former Oriole whose son was drafted. The Orioles selected Brandon Bonilla, the son of Bobby Bonilla, out of Grand Canyon University in the 25th round. Brandon Bonilla is left-handed, can touch 97 MPH, and made it to Baseball America’s list of the top 500 draft talents, so he appears to be a legitimate prospect and not a legacy pick.
  • The Yankees, meanwhile, took right-handed pitcher Mariano Rivera in the 29th round. Stan Grossfeld of the Boston Globe descries the Iona College junior as a “bearded, wiry, shorter version of his dad,” the great Yankees closer.
  • The Padres picked shortstop Johnny Manziel — yes, that Johnny Manziel — in the 28th. Manziel considered playing baseball for Texas A&M, but for the Padres, he may be a tough sign.

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