Friday, March 31, 2023

2022 MLB Draft: How Druw Jones, Jackson Holliday and Justin Crawford compare to their All-Star fathers

Major League Baseball’s 2022 amateur draft is days away, with the Baltimore Orioles slated to make the third No. 1 pick in franchise history on Sunday night. CBS Sports has spent the last several weeks analyzing this year’s class of players, ranking the top 30 prospects in the draft and mocking out the first round. Not everyone is interested in such trivialities, however; some just want to gawk at the passage of time by learning which famous players they grew up watching have children who are now being chosen to begin their own professional careers.

We have good news for those who want their mortality reaffirmed: the top of this year’s class is loaded with legacy names. Graham Greene once wrote that “there is always one moment in childhood when the door opens and lets the future in.” Below, we’ve profiled three players who must’ve experienced that moment on a diamond, while at the same time contrasting their games with their All-Star fathers.

Do note that there are plenty of other cases where a top draftee in this class has familial ties to a former big-league player, including Cam Collier (Lou’s son), Daniel Susac (Andrew’s brother), Jace Jung (Josh’s brother). Additionally, Arkansas second baseman Robert Moore is the son of Kansas City Royals executive Dayton Moore. Hey, as we said in the introduction, this the draft for you if you want to feel ancient. 

Now, let’s proceed to the unfair comparisons.

OF Druw Jones (No. 1 prospect), son of Andruw Jones

Father’s career: Andruw was one of the best, if not the best defensive center fielders of his generation. He won 10 Gold Glove Awards, all in consecutive years, and he made five All-Star Games. He could hit a lick as well, at least early on in his career. Jones finished with 434 home runs and 152 stolen bases, making him one of 21 players to ever clear the 400/150 thresholds. He’s halfway through his stay on the Hall-of-Fame ballot, and his candidacy appears to be gaining momentum. He’s improved his ballot share from 19.4 percent to 33.9 percent to 41.4 percent over the last three winters. Jones still has a ways to go to earn a ticket to Cooperstown, but then, he was always good about covering distance.

Son’s outlook: You can find scouts who prefer this or that player, but most of the industry seems to view Druw as the top player available in this class. He’s a legitimate top pick, even in a class brimming with other intriguing high-school position players. Jones has the potential to peak with five plus or better tools, including (wouldn’t you know it) good center-field defense. There’s an All-Star ceiling here, and it shouldn’t be held against him if the Orioles go elsewhere as part of a portfolio approach

Similarity: The Joneses share a position and enough skill-set characteristics to say there’s more similarity than not here. Of course, that doesn’t mean Druw is going to have a borderline Hall-of-Fame-worthy career; it does, nevertheless, bode well for those who want to make the most obvious of comparisons.

SS Jackson Holliday (No. 3 prospect), son of Matt Holliday

Father’s career: Matt made seven All-Star Games and won four Silver Slugger Awards during a career that saw him launch 316 home runs and post a 132 OPS+. He also won a National League Championship Series Most Valuable Player Award with the Colorado Rockies, and later a World Series ring as part of the St. Louis Cardinals. When you conjure an image of Matt Holliday, it’s of a jacked corner outfielder who could hit.

Son’s outlook: And when you conjure an image of Jackson Holliday, it should not involve a jacked corner outfielder. Rather, Jackson is an explosive shortstop prospect who scouts say worked himself into better shape this season. He made strides at the plate, too, learning how to stay on pitches and use the entire field. Holliday’s promise on both sides of the ball make him a justifiable top pick, depending on what the Orioles decided to do. Should Jackson somehow go unsigned, he would head to Oklahoma State, where he would play for a coaching staff that includes his uncle and father. 

Similarity:The Hollidays do not share similarities at this point. Matt never had a hope of playing shortstop, and Jackson probably won’t be remembered for his massive forearms. Good things there’s more than one route to being a valuable ballplayer.

OF Justin Crawford (No. 17 prospect), son of Carl Crawford

Father’s career: Carl, one of the most exciting players of his day, made four All-Star Games and won both a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger Award. He stole 50 or more bases in five different seasons en route to 480 for his career; the only players in the wild-card era to swipe more bags were Juan Pierre, Jose Reyes, and Ichiro. To this day, he remains one of the most productive players in Tampa Bay Rays history.

Son’s outlook: Coming into the spring, scouts expressed some reservations about Justin on the grounds that they hadn’t seen him play against top-notch competition on the showcase circuit. He’s put those fears to bed since, showing a feel for hitting for average and near-elite speed. In an amusing twist, one of the enduring unknowns about Crawford’s game — how much muscle he’ll add to aid his power production — echoes a question evaluators had about his father’s game as well.

Similarity: As with the Joneses, the Crawfords do share similarities in their games — and, as the video above shows, even some mannerisms. 

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