Yankees draft Mariano's son in 29th round

Yankees draft Mariano's son in 29th round

NEW YORK -- He's a starting pitcher. He wears No. 6. His out pitch is a slider.

Those are just three attributes that distinguish Mariano Rivera III from his iconic father. But one similarity is now unavoidable. He is a Yankee.

With the 872nd pick in the 29th round of the First-Year Player Draft, New York selected righty pitcher Mariano Rivera III, son of the Yankees legend and arguably the greatest closer in baseball history.

"Kind of neat," manager Joe Girardi said. "I know he comes from good bloodlines."

"It was amazing, a good feeling," Rivera said of getting drafted. "Some random number called me and I got it saying, 'Maybe this could be,' and it was. Pretty exciting."

A 5-foot-11 redshirt sophomore from Iona College, Rivera started 12 games for the Gaels in 2014, going 2-6 with a 5.40 ERA over 70 innings. He threw five complete games in that span, allowing opponents a .269 batting average.

"Despite the fact I got drafted by the same team my dad was playing for, I still want to be my own person," he said. "Still want to become a ballplayer on my own terms."

The young Rivera grew up in Harrison, N.Y., where he played many high school sports, including track and field, soccer and wrestling. During his time at Iona Prep though, Rivera saw little time on the baseball field, mostly pinch-running, and never played his senior year.

Instead, Rivera worked out on his own to prepare for summer ball, and after one semester at Quinnipiac, Iona College head coach Pat Carey, who caught Rivera a few times the summer after high school, took him in as a transfer.

"He's been awesome," Rivera said. "He really has helped me out, He's always there for me and always pushing me to do better and just keep on going, [telling me] don't be satisfied with what I'm doing."

Rivera finished the 2014 season with an uneven stat line, but some scouts believe he has good potential. After having just a few years of experience as a starting pitcher, Rivera's arm is still fresh and developing. His velocity, originally in the high 80s in his high school days, was clocked this spring in the low 90s.

"You're not talking about a front-of-the-line Draft guy, but with the late development and the genetics, he's gotten people to take a little notice," an American League scout told the New York Post.

"His velocity, he's gotten bigger and stronger and it's increased," Girardi said. "Mo didn't have much to say. He's always been a humble guy, and he wasn't going to say much about his son, but he likes what he's doing."

Rivera will follow in the line of other recently drafted sons of Yankees greats. The Yankees took Josh Pettitte in the 37th round in last year's Draft before he decided to go to college, while Koby Clemens climbed to Triple-A through the Houston Astros organization. He currently plays in the independent league. Rivera though doesn't want to just be another name, forever in the shadow of his father.

"I want to be remembered," he told SB Nation. "I want to be one of those guys that you read about later in life, that you tell your kids about. ... I want to play this game, because No. 1, I love it. And No. 2, I want to be good at it. I don't want to be just another guy who made it to the bigs and was good, but never great."

Rivera said his arsenal consists of five pitches: a four-seam fastball, a sinker, a split changeup, a curveball and a slider. He tinkered with his father's cut fastball, but it never felt natural.

What's he up to now? Rivera is playing summer ball for the Laconia Muskrats, located in New Hampshire as part of the New England Collegiate Baseball League. Whether he'll officially sign is still up in the air.

"It depends," Rivera said after admitting he still needed to call his father. "[The Yankees] told me they were going to draft me and they were going to come up and see me throw a 'pen for them or in a game, and make an offer for me there. So what they offer me will be the determining factor of whether I decide to sign right there."

Jake Kring-Schreifels is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.