With the complex leagues in Arizona and Florida now underway, it is time to look at the winners of the 2017 Draft. Who, of the 1,215 players drafted, may make their way to the top of the name game, where Sicnarf Loopstok, Rock Shoulders, Will Startup, and Seth Schwindenhammer form a Mount Rushmore of greatness.
Show him the money
What makes a great name is open to individual interpretation. The alliterative appeal of a Seth Schwindenhammer is one way to go. Pairing a last name with the only possible first name to make it memorable like Will Startup is a another option. Sometimes, the last name may open up interesting possibilities – such as what type of Shoulders does he have? Why, they seem to be made of Rock.
But, sometimes the fates conspire to put all three options in play. The 2017 fourth round draft pick of the Cincinnati Reds is an example of this phenomena. Prep shortstop Cash Case checks off all three boxes: alliteration, a last name that is at once humdrum but open to possibilities, and the perfect pairing of first and last name. Mr. Case’s parents could have gone far afield with the first name; Civil, Criminal, and Booker all could have formed an interesting, if forced, balance of first and last name. But, Cash is a first name that is in limited circulation, and it is by far the perfect fit with the last name of Case.
So, how much cash will Cash be placing in his case? The prep star signed a contract with a $1,000,000 signing bonus. That’s a lot of cash – Cash may need to buy a bigger case.
A Cinematic Trio
With the third pick of the draft, the San Diego Padres selected left-handed pitcher MacKenzie Gore, which just sounds just like the superhero to defeat the 22nd pick of the draft, Logan Warmoth. But every hero needs a sidekick, and 29th round pick Brock Deatherage fits the bill. I can already see the headlines on the Metropolis Times: Gore and Deatherage combine to topple Warmoth.
Born into Baseball
Sometimes, the names just fit. For example, two pitchers were drafted a mere nine picks apart. The Red Sox selected Kutter Crawford out of Florida Gulf Coast University in the 16th round, a hurler who added a cutter to his now five-pitch arsenal this year. It is unclear if Cutter Dyals, the reliever selected by the Braves at the top of the 17th round, has the cutter in his arsenal, but we as baseball fans can only hope if it is not, it will be soon. And the Yankees selected right-handed pitcher Janson Junk in the 22nd round. Like Dyals, it is unclear what Junk has in his trunk, but I hope it is a steady diet of breaking balls.
Blake Battenfield was drafted in the 17th round as a pitcher out of Oklahoma State by the Chicago White Sox. Unfortunately, that likely means his bat will never be utilized on the field of play. Not so for Matthew Batten, the 32nd round pick of the San Diego Padres. Batten finished his four-year career at Quinnipiac University with a program-record 249 hits. Talking of hits, his teammate Robbie Hitt will be attempting to prevent them with the Milwaukee Brewers’ organization. The right-hander may also get a chance to hit as a member of a National League club.
Will He or Won’t He
We have already established that Will is, perhaps, the perfect name to pair with a surname. Will fans of the Nationals Crowe about their second round pitcher from South Carolina? Will Detroit keep a Vest-ed interest in their new twirler from Stephen F. Austin. Will Reed be the right pick for the Pirates? Does Willy Yahn after he signs a contract with the Orioles? Wood Myers have been drafted if he had stayed at North Carolina?
These questions and more will be answered in a future episode.
[Scene: A restaurant in Secaucus, New Jersey… just outside of MLB Networks studios. A quartet of men sit down at a corner booth]
Waiter: Welcome Gentleman to the Draft-Day Diner, my name is Drew Waters and I’ll be your waiter for the night. As you peruse the menus, can I get you anything to drink? Our barman Brewer Hicklen has only the best beers on tap.
Guest #1: Do you have any Zach Pop?
Waiter: You must be from the heartland, sir. Of course we have a variety of carbonated beverages to choose from.
So, two beers, one cola, and, do you want me to draw you another water sir?
Guest #2: Yes, please. But, could you put a slice of Caden Lemons in it?
Waiter: Of course. I’ll be right back to take your order.
Waiter: Before you order, we have a ballpark special that our chef Billy Cooke and his assistant Jordan Spicer made just for tonight. It is a choice of Jake Burger, Chad Spanberger, or Brett Seeburger with some seasoned fries for just ten bucks.
Guest #3: Do any of the burgers come with Troy Bacon?
Waiter: Of course, you can order any of them with bacon on top.
Guest #4: I’m not a big meat eater. Do you have any Mike Trout on the menu?
Waiter: No, unfortunately not. But, perhaps Jimmy Herron, Andrew Karp, or Austin Pollock will do?
Guest #4: Pollock is in season these days. Does it come with lemons?
Waiter: Of course, we have plenty of Caden Lemons to go around.
Guest #1: Do you have any salads?
Waiter: Our Rob Calabrese salad is one of biggest sellers.
Guest #2: I really just want a small bite. Do you have any appetizers?
Waiter: Would a Frankie Tostado hit the spot?
Excellent. I’ll put this order right in.
[30 minutes later]
Waiter: How was the meal? Good, good. Can I interest you in some desert? Out pastry chef Darren Baker makes a tremendous Zachery Almond Cake. It is, some say, to die for. No, not today? That’s fine. I’ll bring the checks. Please come again soon.
Imitating Baseball Royalty
It is a well-known story that Jeter Downs was named after Yankees stalwart Derek Jeter. The prep shortstop follows in Derek’s footsteps by being picked in the first round (32nd overall) by the Cincinnati Reds. It is unknown if this Jeter has calm eyes or can go to his left.
However, two teams picked players with names eerily similar to two stars currently playing. In the 25th round, Tampa Bay picked Andrew Miller out of Southwest Tennessee Community College. Unlike the relief ace of the Cleveland Indians, this Miller serves on the opposite side of the battery.
But, the prize of this draft strategy belongs to the Washington Nationals, who doubled down in the tenth round with a second Trey Turner.
Stay hungry, Trey Turner. pic.twitter.com/BKSRVa3sTl
— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) June 13, 2017
The Doug Mientkiewicz Memorial Eye Chart
Sometimes names are strikingly unpronounceable at first glance. In the 2017 draft, we bring you:
J.B. Bukauskas, J.J. Matijevic, Nick Egnatuk, Mark Kolozvary, Nick Margevicius, Fred Schlichtholz, Carl Stajduhar, Blake Pflughaupt, Ben Spitznagel, Haden Wynja, Michael Brdar, Niko Leontarakis, Cole Kleszcz, and Erich Uelmen.
Three Names to Stardom
Not all people can be born with a double last name. But, for those who are, we salute you. This year, our three picks from the triple threats are Preston Grand Pre, Franklin Van Gurp, and Boyd Vander Kooi. May your games follow the greatness of your names.
The Random Others
Some names don’t fit any thematic principles, but they are no less fantastic and deserve to be celebrated. So, step up to the podium Joe Breaux and Kyle Goodbrand. Nat Witt, Oraj Anu, Asa Lacy, and Trey Hair show that short names can be memorable. Kevin Santa knows when you’ve been naughty or nice, so don’t risk receiving a Cole Stapler. Shameko Smith brings the alliteration. Peter Lannoo brings, well, Lannoo! Lamar Sparks will be sure to ignite. And with a name like Maverik Buffo, the sky is the limit.
Baseball fame can be fleeting. There are no guarantees that any of the above players will ever make the grade in the major leagues. In fact many will never even get a cup of coffee. But, one thing can not be taken away, their names will always be memorable.