Typically, when the calendar flips to May, we turn most of our attention to the Draft. It’s not exactly the same in 2021 given that the Draft is now in July and is still two months-plus away. But we’re still very much tracking what’s going on in the amateur ranks.
A couple of weeks ago, we gave you our first “five-pack,” if you will, a look at five prospects on the rise. We’re back with another party of five … well, this week, we stretched to six. On this week’s Pipeline Podcast, we took a look at Draft prospects with interesting family trees that branch not only to baseball, but other sports as well.
Will Bednar, RHP, Mississippi State (No. 34 on Draft Top 150)
David Bednar signed with the Padres as a 35th-round pick out of Lafayette in 2016 before going to the Pirates in the Joe Musgrove trade in January and subsequently claiming a spot in Pittsburgh's bullpen. His younger brother Will is a much better prospect at the same stage of their careers, a projected top-50 selection with a 93-97 mph fastball and a mid-80s slider.
Jack Leiter, RHP, Vanderbilt (No. 1)
Before he went on to win 162 games in the big leagues and earn a pair of World Series rings and All-Star appearances, Al Leiter was a Yankees second-round pick out of a New Jersey high school in 1984. His son Jack will do him one round better this July and is contention to go No. 1 overall to the Pirates.
Matt McLain, SS (No. 15), UCLA and Nick McLain, OF (No. 129), Beckman HS (Calif.)
Brothers going in the same Draft isn't unheard of, but it’s uncommon. DJ Peterson was a college bat taken in the first round, while his brother Dustin was a second-rounder out of high school in 2013, for example. Matt was a first-round pick of the D-backs three years ago and should be taken around a similar spot this year, while Nick, a switch-hitting outfielder with a UCLA commitment, has been rising up boards some this spring. And there’s a third McLain, Sean, currently having a very strong season at the University of Arizona.
Kumar Rocker, RHP, Vanderbilt (No. 3)
Another Vandy righty in consideration for the top choice, Rocker is one of the more physical pitchers in the 2021 Draft. At 6-foot-4 and 255 pounds, he looks like a starter kit to build a defensive lineman -- which his father, Tracy, was as a college star at Auburn and in the NFL with Washington. The College Football Hall of Famer is now the defensive line coach for the Philadelphia Eagles.
Isaiah Thomas, OF, Vanderbilt (No. 69)
Though Thomas isn't connected to basketball Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas or former Boston Celtics All-Star Isaiah Thomas, he does have a hoops relative in his cousin, Hall of Famer Tim Duncan. With well-above-average power and solid speed, Thomas should factor in the first three rounds, though he does come with swing-and-miss concerns.