Thirty-four years ago this spring, former Oklahoma baseball pitcher Bobby Witt was selected No. 3 overall in the 1985 Major League Baseball Draft.
Like father, like son. Last week Bobby Witt Jr became the second overall player taken in the 2019 MLB Draft, the top pick of the Kansas City Royals.
Unlike his father, though, Junior is a shortstop who packs a power bat. Earlier this month, Witt Jr. led his high school, Coffeyville (Texas) Heritage, to a state championship. The National Gatorade Player of the Year batted .489 with 55 runs batted in and 15 home runs in 41 games this season.
The younger Witt also pitched some for his high school team, but infield appears to be his natural position, and that is most likely how he will be developed in the Royals organization.
Kansas City Star sports columnist Sam Melliinger wrote this week that Witt Jr. is “tall, strong and athletic…and perhaps the best prospect in Royals’ history.”
This week, the Royals signed him to a bonus contract reported to be valued at $7.8 million dollars.
The Sooners would have loved to have had him, but with the talent he posseses and the fact that he was a top-two draft pick, the decision to go pro was an easy one.
Mellinger reported that it took Bobby Witt Sr. eight major league seasons and his first free-agent contract to earn that kind of money.
Witt Jr. has a long ways to go, however, to match his dad’s longevity in the big leagues. The elder Witt pitched for 16 seasons in the majors. He played for eight different teams and posted a career record of 142-157 with an ERA of 4.83. He began his major league career with the Texas Rangers in 1986, with whom he spent seven seasons. His final season was 2001 with the Arizona Cardinals.
At least one baseball writer has compared the potential impact Witt Jr. can have on Kansas City to what Chiefs’ quarterback and NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes has brought to the city.
Asked about the comparison at the Royals’ press conference to announce his signing, Witt Jr. said he grew up watching Mahomes at Texas Tech: “Him (Mahomes) going to Texas Tech and me being an Oklahoma Sooner fan, I was always rooting against him a little bit,” he said with a laugh.