by Alex Poletti
With the Major League Baseball draft just weeks away, eyes have turned to the young prospects that may be taken with the first overall pick, such as Texas prep shortstop Bobby Witt Jr., who hopes to blossom into a player like his father, Rangers pitcher Bobby Witt, a below average player.
The senior Witt was selected third overall by the Texas Rangers in 1985. Although several other father-son duos have been selected in the first round, the Witts have a chance to claim their place in the record books and both go within the top three. Hopefully, Witt Jr. can take after his father as a replacement-level draft bust.
“My dad has always been my role model,” the shortstop says. “It’s been my dream to be just like him. That’s why I’m so excited at the prospect of going third overall or above. That’s also why I’m excited to be such a disappointment in the big leagues.”
Bobby Witt Sr. carries a lifetime ERA of 4.87 to accompany a 142-157 record. His career ERA+ of 91 suggests that he was a below-average pitcher, even adjusted for the offense of the era in which he played.
“I taught my son everything I know,” the University of Oklahoma alum says proudly. “How to catch a baseball, how to swing a bat, how to build up draft hype only to let your team down when you get called up. Everything.”
Needless to say, there is some competition between father and son.
“Obviously, I’d like to go higher than him,” Witt Jr. says, who is currently listed as the number two prospect in the class behind Oregon catcher Adley Rustchmann. “I’d also like to best his major league debut when my time comes, but I admit it’ll be hard to beat his 3.1 innings pitched, allowing 6 walks and 5 earned runs.”
Alongside his duties as coach and parent, the former major leaguer considers an important part of raising a future baseball player teaching humility. Sometimes this comes in age-old dogma, but sometimes it also comes in reminding the young kid that his dad once had a prolific career, too.
“Sometimes to keep him in check, I remind him that I led the league in a few categories back in my day,” Witt Sr. boasts. “That’s right, I topped the American League in wild pitches twice, walks four times and earned runs once. Maybe that’ll make him think twice before he talks bad about his old man.”
While Witt Jr. is thankful for the opportunities he has had as the son of a first-round pick, he also realizes the importance his career will have to the family.
“When I get drafted, I’m going to be carrying my father’s legacy,” Witt Jr. explains. “He had a really good season back in 1990. If I want to do right by my family, then I can’t have a good year like that. Pure mediocrity is the only way to carry on the Witt tradition.”