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Adam Kaufman

Could Yankees Bolster Pitching Staff With Mariano Rivera?

Mariano Rivera III.jpg

The answer is yes…and also no.

In case you missed it over the weekend, the Yankees selected the son of legendary New York and Major League Baseball closer Mariano Rivera in the 29th round, with the 872nd overall pick of the 2014 MLB Draft. The young righthander’s name is Mariano Rivera III.

Rivera is currently a sophomore at Iona College where, unlike his dad, he’s a starter (though his father did start 10 games in 1995 before being converted to a reliever late in his rookie season). He hurled five complete games of his dozen attempts this season as the No. 1 starter for the 13-31 Gaels, posting a 2-6 record and a 5.40 ERA over his 70 innings spanning 13 appearances. Rivera struck out 50 and walked 26. In his two seasons, he’s 3-10 with a 6.03 ERA over 24 games (18 starts).

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Also dissimilar to his dominant father, the 20-year-old doesn’t throw a cutter, but can he throw heat. His four-seam fastball reportedly tops out at about 92 miles per hour. A sinker, split change-up, curveball, and slider are also part of his repertoire. Perhaps he’ll give the cutter a whirl this summer when he takes the mound locally for the Laconia Muskrats of the New England Collegiate Baseball League, unless of course he continues to refuse.

Given his youth and relative baseball immaturity, not to mention the fact he’s unsigned, it’ll be a while before Rivera is lucky enough to call the Bronx home. But, if pedigree has anything to do with it, he’ll get there.

The elder Rivera owns Yankees records with a 2.21 ERA, 652 saves (also an MLB record), and 1,115 games pitched. He was also 8-1 with a 0.70 ERA in 96 postseason contests. The five-time champion and 13-time All-Star pitched for 19 seasons before retiring in 2013.

This noteworthy pick came only one year after the Yanks grabbed former outfielder and four-time champ Paul O’Neill’s nephew Michael in the third round. Maybe there’s a trend in the making, but it’s not one that’s been easy to achieve. Only one father-son combo has ever suited up for the Bombers: Yogi and Dale Berra.

The Junior Rivera does have some bragging rights on his father, though. The latter was never drafted. Everything still seemed to work out okay for him.

As for dad's former team? In their first year without Rivera, the Yankees rank 21st in the majors with a 4.03 staff ERA. The pen is even worse, sitting 24th with a 4.20 ERA and just 20 saves in 30 chances. Rivera converted on 89 percent of his career save opportunities.

Maybe a man of the same name will return them to similar glory down the road.

To learn more about Rivera III, check out SB Nation’s great profile, “A Son of the Game”.

Follow me on Twitter at @AdamMKaufman


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