The baseball draft is not like the football or basketball drafts. With rare exceptions, no one in the baseball draft is a household name and few if any of them are even moderately well known outside of the fanbase of whatever high school or college team they played for. And, of course, most of them will never even make the big leagues, so the anonymity may be permanent.
But there are always some guys in the draft with family connections to well-known dudes. Like North Carolina State infielder Joe Dunand, who the Marlins selected with the 51st overall pick. He’s Alex Rodriguez’s nephew:
“I’m not saying he’s A-Rod,” said Marlins scouting director Stan Meek. “(But) you can see some of A-Rod in him . . . He’s got raw power,” Meek said. “He actually looks a little bit like A-Rod in the face. Actually, the swing has some similarities (with Rodriguez’s). The body is a little heavier. He’s not quite as tall.”
Not that Dunard was drafted on pedigree and vague, projection-fueled resemblances. He hit .289 with 16 home runs this season for N.C. State and set a high school record a few years back by homering in eight consecutive at bats. A-Rod used to throw batting practice to him and has frequently offered him tips and hitting advice. He could likely also help Dunand with his professional development as he, like his famous uncle, is a shortstop who many believe will shift to third base one day.
Still not too late to get involved in that Marlins sale, A-Rod. If you’re the owner, you could do so much more for your nephew’s future!
Bryce Harper, who said he was tired after taking his cuts in the first round, certainly appeared gassed in the final round. So, too, did his dad, who was throwing to him. But Harper caught fire, going on a tear and tying Kyle Schwarber with 18 home runs before time expired in the final round of the 2018 Home Run Derby. Harper unlocked 30 seconds of bonus time by hitting two home runs at least 440 feet. With his second swing in bonus time, Harper homered to straightaway center field for No. 19. He tossed his bat in celebration, grabbed his trophy, then gave it to his dad before he was mobbed on the field by his All-Star teammates.
Harper hit 13 home runs in the first round, eliminating Freddie Freeman and advancing to the semifinals. In the semis, Harper topped Max Muncy 13-12 to advance to the finals. On Schwarber’s side of the bracket, he bested Alex Bregman 16-15, then defeated Rhys Hoskins 21-20.
Harper is the first member of the Nationals (or Expos) to win the Home Run Derby. Harper participated in the 2013 Derby but finished in second place behind Yoenis Céspedes. Harper is also the first left-handed hitter to win the Derby since Prince Fielder in 2012. The only players to win the Derby in their home park are Todd Frazier in 2015 and Ryne Sandberg in 1990.
As a spectator, the 2018 Home Run Derby was tons of fun. The four-minute clock adds a lot of tension and intrigue even to the initial rounds. Seeing teammates cheer and get excited for their teammates in the Derby is really fun. Of course, watching dinger after dinger is cool, too. Can’t wait for next year.