Jeremy Ydens is the 2016 “Don’t Count Him Out” recipient and makes a mean charcuterie. The MLB’s final pick and Cardinal property is a well-rounded slugger ready for the next step.
“Mr. Irrelevant,” the nickname given to last player chosen in the 2011 NBA draft is now a potential MVP candidate. While Isaiah Thomas has spent five years proving nay-sayers wrong, UCLA Freshman Jeremy Ydens is just getting started.
With the 1,216 pick this summer (compared to Isaiah’s pick at #60), the Cardinals selected the 18-year-old center fielder who hit .453 last year at St. Francis High in Mountain View, California. The grueling 40 round process known as the MLB Rule 4 Draft shows the incredible extent to which teams have scoured the globe to find talent. If you can hit a 12-6 or throw a gyroball, one of the 32 “Big Brothers” knows it.
In his last high school season, he posted a 1.23 OPS and went 8-0 from the rubber (0.96 ERA). Call me crazy but Jeremy Ydens could be something big. Just give him 10 years.
Ydens is a renaissance man through and through. When he’s not working pitchers deep into the count, you might find him with a bucket hat, reel and a bucket of worms fishing on the pond. He also has a passion for cooking so if the 40th rounder’s baseball career doesn’t work out, the culinary arts will have a fine young prospect.
Baseball players have a knack for injuring themselves doing menial household chores, so a fisherman-cook duality could prove him to be injury prone (Randy Johnson spent 6 weeks on the DL after dislocating his finger putting on socks and Wade Boggs lost a week of play after straining his back putting on cowboy boots — It’s a dangerous world out there, be careful Ydens).
Despite being picked after a wide receiver from Mississippi, Ydens was honored by the choice, and rightfully so. Unlike football and baseball, when a late round selection is downright impolite, it’s an incredible opportunity and vote of confidence to a young player like Ydens.
While most 19 year olds worry about finding a summer internship, Ydens gets to decide whether to try his hand at The Show or stay in school with dreams of future MLB employment. As of now he has decided to pursue higher education and Pac-12 baseball.
If he were to play hooky, he would likely find himself suiting up for the Johnson City Cardinals in the Appalachian League. Their average attendance hovers around 730 fans, excited for a day at the park.
Their $100 Birthday Package is a steal: 10 tickets, free hot dogs, and the chance to throw out the first pitch (The site notes parties may bring their own cakes to the ballpark). As appealing as this option sounds, a couple years in LA can help Ydens mature and gain perspective.
The Cardinals draft on what they call “power potential.” In addition to their global scouting network, they use complicated algorithms to adjust for competition level and park sizes. They have to decide whether to draft a D1 player who hits .380 in Denver or .315 in the Cuban league.
Most analysts agree that many of baseball’s current stats reflect pure luck and uncontrollable factors rather than a batter’s true ability.
With MLB StatCast player tracking, however, teams can now track bat speed and the ball’s exit velocity, which help the franchise come up with a more clear, finalized valuation and ranking system. A player like Ydens has an incredible level of uncertainty.
As he continues to get stronger and prove himself at the next level, the late-night choice could end up looking like a steal.