The Nationals already had the sons of Cal Ripken, Jr., Tony Gwynn and Lenny Dykstra in their farm system, but on Tuesday they added another famous ballplayer's kid to the mix. In the fourth round of the 2015 MLB Draft, the Nats took right-handed pitcher Mariano Rivera, Jr.
He is, of course, the son of Yankees legend Mariano Rivera, considered by most to be the best closer of all time. Rivera, Jr. joins the organization after playing for Iona College in New York.
According to some reports, Rivera, Jr. has been clocked as high as 97 miles per hour on his fastball, but generally sits around 93-94. He is listed at 5-foot-11 and 155 pounds.
Nationals special assistant to the GM Jeff Zona recalled seeing Rivera, Jr. pitch for the first time:
"It was a day in Connecticut that I saw him. It was much the same as our scout who had tracked him. I mean, he sits mid-90s with his fastballs with a power, 80 mile per hour curveball. It was very impressive. He threw strikes. It was great to see him at that time of the year when you've almost been through the whole country and then you see that. It was just somebody that, for me, he was just one of my favorites. I think we got a good one."
Rivera, Jr. was drafted in the 29th round by the Yankees in 2014, but didn't sign. He went 5-7 with a 2.65 ERA and 113 strikeouts in 14 starts (85 IP) at Iona this season.
The Nationals drafted Ripken's son, Ryan, in the 15th round of the 2014 draft. They traded for Dykstra's son, Cutter, after the 2010 season. Gwynn, Jr. was signed before this season as a free agent.
Nationals assistant general manager Kris Kline talked about Rivera, Jr.'s pedigree after the team selected him.
"As scouts, any time we can go and watch a kid that has major league bloodlines, you look at the Boone family, there's something definitely to be said for that. It's a positive thing. The fact that Mariano's kid is as good as he is right now, I'm sure his father had a lot to do with that. He has the genes there. He's not a tall kid, but he's got big shoulders, long arms, big hands and that really helps as far as the durability for his size," he said.
The New York Daily News caught up with Rivera, Sr., the future MLB Hall of Famer, to ask him about his son getting drafted by the Nats. He said he was happy for his son and not disappointed he didn't join the Yankees.
“It’s a great organization,” Rivera Sr. said. “They have put a great team together. So hopefully they give him an opportunity to pitch and do what he’s capable [of doing] and do his best and help the team as much as he can.”
For analysis of the Nationals' other picks, go to our 2015 draft tracker.