NEW YORK (AP) — Re-Enter Sandman?
The New York Yankees selected Mariano Rivera III, the son of the former record-breaking closer, in the 29th round of the Major League Baseball draft on Saturday.
The 20-year-old Rivera, a starting pitcher as a sophomore at Iona College, went 2-6 with a 5.40 ERA and five complete games and a team-leading 50 strikeouts in 70 innings for the Gaels. The 5-foot-11 right-hander bears a strong resemblance physically to his famous father, who saved a major league-record 652 games and helped lead the Yankees to five World Series titles.
But Rivera III allowed 72 hits and opponents batted .269 against him, and he was considered by many to be a fringe prospect because of his inexperience on the mound.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi spoke to Mariano Rivera recently and asked him for a scouting report on his son.
“Mo wasn’t sure if he got drafted what he would do,” Girardi said before the Yankees played the Royals in Kansas City on Saturday night. “But I think it’s neat he got drafted by the Yankees and we’ll see what happens.”
Rivera III has a fastball that sits in the low-90s and a terrific slider – although his cutter isn’t quite yet as devastating as his dad’s. He also wore the No. 6 at Iona, rather than his father’s familiar No. 42.
“Well, his velocity, I mean, he’s gotten bigger and stronger and it’s increased,” Girardi said. “Mo didn’t have much to say – Mo’s always been a humble guy – but he loves what he’s doing.”
Rivera transferred to Iona from Quinnipiac and was originally an outfielder before redshirting and moving to the mound last year, when he pitched in 11 games for the Gaels.
AP Sports Writer Dave Skretta in Kansas City contributed to this report.