Current Yankees players were happy to see Rivera Jr. get selected by the Nationals in the fourth round (134th overall) of the Draft on Tuesday. The Iona right-hander, who the Yanks saw routinely around the clubhouse as a teenager, is on the brink of starting a career.
"Good kid, good kid. He comes from a great family, so we're excited for him," Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia said. "I think he can learn everything from his dad. His dad is one of the best pitchers to ever pitch, so he's got that as his advantage. I heard he's throwing 95, 97 [mph], so you know he's got everything working for him."
The Draft concludes on Wednesday, with exclusive coverage of Rounds 11-40 beginning on MLB.com at noon ET.
Sabathia said he first met him when Rivera Jr. was in middle school. For Brett Gardner, it was when Rivera Jr. was in high school.
Gardner said even when Rivera Jr. grew up and went off to college, he still continued to follow his progress at Iona.
"He was nice. He was always -- I mean, obviously Mariano's his dad, so you know that he's obviously a very well-behaved kid," Gardner said. "He always kind of just stood out of the way and kept his mouth shut. ... He'd go out on the field and shag BP with his dad some, and it was always fun having him around."
Rivera Jr.'s father, the former Yankees closer, was in New York City speaking at a Delta dugout event when his son found out the news.
"I was here. I had to do this. But I was happy," Rivera said. "I was on the phone and was able to call him and congratulate him and wish him the best. Knowing he's happy, that makes me happy."
Rivera said he understood the nature of the business and that he had no hard feelings about his son playing for someone other than the Yankees.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi found it interesting that the team Rivera Jr. was drafted by just so happens to be the team that is in town to take on the Yankees on Tuesday and Wednesday. He, too, wished Rivera Jr. well.
"I'm happy for him and I'm sure it's a really proud moment for big Mo," Girardi said. "I hope the young man has a very successful career. Obviously, he comes from a great baseball background, but I'm sure it's just a great day for the Rivera family."
Grace Raynor is an associate reporter for MLB.com.