Nearly two decades ago Darren Baker, son of longtime big leaguer and current Astros manager Dusty Baker, jumped into the spotlight when he was nearly run over at the plate during the 2002 World Series. Baker, then 3, was serving as a Giants bat boy and was scooped away to safety by J.T. Snow as he crossed the plate.
Here's the video. The play is so memorable that we turned it into a (virtual) bobblehead.
The years marched on and Baker grew older, and over the last few years Darren has made a name for himself as a speedy second baseman at the University of California, Berkeley. On Monday, the Nationals selected him in the 10th round (293rd overall pick) of the 2021 amateur draft.
This is the second time the Nationals drafted Baker, now 22. They also drafted in the 27th round out of high school in 2017. Dusty of course managed Washington from 2016-17. This spring Darren authored a .327/.402/.354 batting line and finished the regular season with 28 stolen bases, a top 10 total in the country.
It is not uncommon for teams to draft the manager's or a coach's son in the late rounds as a courtesy, which is what happened with Baker in 2017. He was always going to college. In the four years since, Baker has made himself into a legitimate prospect, so this is more than a nepotism pick. The Nationals expect Baker to develop into a big leaguer.
Baseball America ranked Baker the No. 187 prospect in the 2021 draft class, saying he has the "ability to hit, run and play up the middle," adding his "high baseball IQ gives him a chance to play above his pure tools." Darren is a very different player than his father, who was a power hitting outfielder during his 19-year MLB career.