BOZICH | Monday Muse: Louisville's McKay, Ballard's Adell primed to make local MLB Draft history
Louisville pitcher/first baseman Brendan McKay and Ballard outfielder Jo Adell are primed to set local baseball history in the MLB Free Agent Draft Monday night.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – History is on the agenda at the Major League Baseball Free Agent Draft on Monday night.
Something outlandish would have to happen to stop Brendan McKay from becoming the first University of Louisville player taken in the first four picks.
Then, after the celebration for McKay subsides, Ballard High School outfielder Jo Adell is considered a lock to become what I believe will be the first Louisville high school player taken in the first 10 picks.
How can I start the Monday Muse with anything other than Play Ball?
1. McKay Mania
If you’re making a list of everything McKay has accomplished as a baseball player at the University of Louisville, pour yourself some lemonade and set aside a healthy chunk of time.
A long string of individual hitting and pitching records. W after W after W after W. The four home run game against Eastern Kentucky.
But in the last week, McKay has put the exclamation point on his three seasons at Jim Patterson Stadium.
He teamed with Lamar Jackson to make Louisville the only athletic program to produce the Heisman Trophy and college player of the year winners in the same school year.
His Super Regional pitching performance against Kentucky on Saturday bumped Louisville into the College World Series for the fourth time in 11 seasons.
He was named Baseball America national college player of the year, a list includes guys like David Price, Kris Bryant and Buster Posey – and backed it up by becoming the first three-time winner of the John Olerud Award as the game’s best two-position player.
On Monday night, McKay has a solid shot to join a club that includes Bryce Harper, Alex Rodriguez and Ken Griffey Jr. – players who were taken first in the MLB Free Agent Draft.
Word from Minnesota over the weekend has tilted in favor of McKay over three other candidates when the Twins make the first overall selection. Every team could use a durable left-handed arm in the pitching rotation. The Twins will eventually be in the market for a replacement at first base for Joe Mauer, who will be 35 next season.
I asked one draft expert to make the call. He said that he expected McKay to be taken first by the Twins but was certain he would last no longer than the fourth pick, which belongs to Tampa.
Even at four, that would be the best in U of L history, one spot of Corey Ray, who was taken by Milwaukee at five last season.
2. Jo Adell Hat Tip
Consider the lines officially open for baseball trivia assistance. Here is the question:
If, as expected, Ballard High School outfielder Jo Adell is taken in the first 10 picks in the MLB Draft tonight, will that be a record for a Louisville high school player?
I believe so.
Researching that nugget is tricky. I believe that the current leader is Terry Mappin, a catcher at Durrett High School, who was selected with the 20th pick in round one by the Tigers in 1970.
Guys like Jeremy Sowers of Ballard and Matt Anderson of St. Xavier were taken higher, but not until they had played three seasons of college baseball. Brad Corley of Pleasure Ridge Park, Jimmy Osting of Trinity and Brad Beanblossom of Male were also talented players.
But not Top 10 picks.
So until somebody sends me another name (and send it to RBozich@wdrb.com), I’ll consider Adell the leader when his name is called Monday night, likely as the ninth pick by Milwaukee.
3. Meet Me at The Garden
I realize I’ve written about this topic once or twice. I’m likely to write about it two or three more times. Doesn’t matter where Donovan Mitchell goes in the NBA Draft next week. It will be a story.
But if he goes to Madison Square Garden, it’s a bigger story.
Because Mitchell is a metropolitan New York kid who grew up a short train ride from Penn Station. Because Mitchell is such a sensible kid who would be thrown into the most dysfunctional locker room in the NBA. Because the Knicks need help at guard, which would translate to instant opportunity for Mitchell.
I talked to several former NBA players at the golf event former U of L guard Jerry Eaves staged for his Simmons College basketball program Monday at Persimmon Ridge Golf Club. They said the word in the NBA grapevine was Mitchell had delivered impressive workouts for several teams.
4. Don’t Meet Me at The Garden
Maybe if the one-and-done rule had been in effect when Sebastian Telfair exited high school, things would have turned out better for the troubled guard from New York City.
Maybe Telfair would have actually followed through on his oral commitment to the University of Louisville. Maybe he would have played a season or two and tightened his game and his act.
Maybe Telfair would not have become a guy who bounced from here to there to there to here in parts of 10 mostly underwhelming seasons in the NBA.
Or maybe not. Remember: Louisville coach Rick Pitino wanted Telfair more than he wanted Rajon Rondo when both players were high school seniors in 2004 – and Rondo blew by Telfair in career achievements long, long ago.
The only headlines Telfair can make these days are the kind he made over the weekend when he was arrested on a weapons charge in New York City.
5. Three Wildcats in Top 15?
Mitchell is not the only former local college star who has made money with his draft workouts.
The chatter at the Eaves’ Simmons golf event was that former University of Kentucky guard De’Aaron Fox has legitimately made it difficult for team president Magic Johnson to bypass Fox and take hometown favorite Lonzo Ball with the second pick in the NBA Draft next week.
“Not only did De’Aaron outplay Lonzo twice head to head, he’s looked better in workouts, too,” said one former NBA player. “The only thing that makes it tough (for the Lakers to take Ball over Fox) is Ball is from Los Angeles and played at UCLA.”
I asked several former NBA players at the golf event for their forecasts on two other former UK players – guard Malik Monk and forward/center Bam Adebayo.
Monk will be called in the first six picks, while Adebayo will go between 12 and 19.
“Bam won’t go past Atlanta on 19,” one guy said. “He blew them away in his workout. They loved the way he can guard so many positions and they think he can really improve his shot.”
“Teams are figuring out that until last season, Malik always played with the ball,” the former NBA player said. “He was a point guard. He created his own shot. That only changed this season because he played with De’Aaron. But Malik can play either position. He can get his own shots.”
6. Old School NBA
Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green are not the only players who have won NBA championship rings with Golden State.
Former U of L star Butch Beard has one, too. Beard earned his in 1975 when the Warriors swept Washington, which featured Elvin Hayes and Wes Unseld, another former U of L star.
Beard said that he laughs every time he listens to coaches, players and the media talk about the grind of the postseason schedule and travel in the NBA.
This is why: When Beard played in the league, every team flew commercial. No charters. Even during the playoffs.
Play Game One in Washington and then take a 6 a.m. flight to the West Coast, with a connection. Play two games in San Francisco and then fly back to D.C. for Game Four.
“Chances are you’d be sitting in coach,” Beard said. “The coaches got the first-class seats. Then the big guys.
“You’d try to find a row with an empty seat and tell the stewardess you didn’t want any Coke or tea or coffee or anything. Just wake you up when the plane touched down.”
7. Marshawn Mania
If you asked me to make a list of top-selling National Football League player jerseys, I’d start with Tom Brady of the Patriots.
Packers’ quarterback Aaron Rodgers would make my Top 10. Ditto for Steelers’ receiver Antonio Brown. Cowboys’ halfback Ezekiel Elliott, Broncos defensive lineman Von Miller and Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. would make my cut.
But Marshawn Lynch?
Not only has Lynch jumped from Seattle to Oakland after sitting out one season, he has also vaulted to the top of jersey sales, according to this story at NFLShop.com.
He’s followed by Brady, Cowboys’ quarterback Dak Prescott, Elliott and rookie Deshaun Watson, who was drafted by the Texans.
8. A Vote For a Pitch Clock
Louisville and Kentucky needed 3 hours and 52 minutes to play nine innings of baseball Saturday. That was one day after the teams required 3:09 to play 8 1/2 innings. That was five days after U of L and Xavier needed 3:56 to play 8 1/2 innings.
I love baseball. Watch it nearly every night from April through the end of October. Three hours seems like a reasonable commitment for nine innings. Actually 2:45 should be doable.
The major leagues allegedly made a commitment to pick up the pace this season, but as Tom Verducci reported at Sports Illustrated, games have become longer not shorter, even though MLB commissioner Rob Manfred has made pace of play a priority, enacting changes like the automatic intentional walk.
Not a winning trend in a word of 12-second attention spans.
Baseball needs to figure it out. No stepping out of the batters’ box. Fewer trips to the mound. Requiring pitchers to deliver the ball within 20 seconds.
It’s not that difficult.
9. Poll Results, Part I
Which college football coach is on the hottest seat in 2017?
Brian Kelly, Notre Dame 63.1 percent
Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M 14.8 percent
Butch Jones, Tennessee 10.7 percent
Hugh Freeze, Ole Miss 9.1 percent
Other 1.4 percent
Jim Mora, UCLA 1 percent
10. Poll Results, Part II
Better scenario for college baseball in the state: Kentucky vs. Louisville
Separate Super Regional 56.6 percent
Same Super Regional 43.4 percent
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