Jun 25, 2019; Omaha, NE, USA; Vanderbilt Commodores starting pitcher Kumar Rocker (80) comes off the mound during the sixth inning against the Michigan Wolverines in game two of the championship series of the 2019 College World Series at TD Ameritrade Park. (Photo Credit: Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports Credit: NCAA photo)

by JAIME C. HARRIS AmNews Sports Editor

Within one hour of Sunday’s Major League Baseball Draft held in Los Angeles in conjunction with the All-Star festivities, it became a seminal event for the sport when with the fifth pick, the Washington Nationals selected Elijah Green of IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. The 18-year-old outfielder is the son of Eric Green, a former NFL tight end who was the 21st overall pick by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1990.  

Green was the fourth Black player taken among the first five picks, the first time that has ever occurred in the MLB Draft. Druw Jones, a five-tool 18-year-old outfielder from Wesleyan High School in Norcross, Georgia, and the consensus No. 1 prospect in the draft, started off the seismic run on Black players when he was taken by the Arizona Diamondbacks with the second overall pick.

Jones is the son of the legendary outfielder Andrew Jones, a five-time All-Star and 10-time Gold who played most of his career with the Atlanta Braves. Right after Jones at No. 3, the Texas Rangers selected the erstwhile Vanderbilt University star Kumar Rocker. The 22-year-old hard throwing righty was taken by the Mets with the 10th pick in last year’s draft, but injury concerns precluded the organization from signing Rocker, who led Vandy to the 2019 NCAA championship.

The 2019 College World Series Most Outstanding Player honoree from Watkinsville, Georgia, decided to pitch for the Tri-City ValleyCats (Troy, New York) of the Frontier League this past spring and enter this year’s draft. His calculus proved to be wise as Kumar was selected seven slots higher than a year ago.     

Power hitting shortstop Termarr Johnson went No. 4 to the Pittsburgh Pirates. The 18-year-old from Atlanta is viewed by many scouts as the best pure hitter coming out of high school in the past two decades. They rave about his exceptional hand-eye coordination and ability to hit for average and knock the ball out of the park.

In addition to the history-making quartet, another son of a former elite professional athlete was chosen in the first round when the Philadelphia Phillies acquired 18-year-old Justin Crawford at No. 17. The outfielder from Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas grew up watching his father, outfielder Carl Crawford, lead the American League in stolen bases four times with the Tampa Bay Rays (2003, 2004, 2006, 2007) and earn four All-Star Game appearances.

Eighteen-year-old shortstop Jackson Holliday opened the draft’s father-son MLB connection by being taken with the No. 1 overall pick by the Baltimore Orioles. His father, Matt Holliday, was a seven-time All-Star and 2011 World Series champion with the St. Louis Cardinals.

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