KISSIMMEE, FLA. – Lance McCullers Jr. of the Houston Astros shares one of the most unique father-son stories from the MLB draft.A top 5 prospect in Houston, McCullers Jr. was drafted in the second round last year 41st overall, the exact same spot where his father, a major league pitcher from 1985 and 1992, was selected.
“My dad looked at me and looked at the teams who could possibly draft me and said, ‘Man, it’d be pretty cool if you got drafted 41st overall,’” said McCullers Jr. “I don’t think that it’s ever happened before so it was nice to be able to share that with my dad.”
McCullers Jr. was named an All-star in the Class-A Midwest League last season, posting a 3.18, going 6-5 on the mound. He had 117 strikeouts over 104 2/3 innings tying him for fifth overall.
The young righty was part of the championship-winning team last year in Low Class-A Quad Cities for the River Bandits in the Midwest League, but did not play a single inning during the entire playoff run. Having a father who played in the major leagues, he is able to go to him for advice on being a better baseball player, especially when he is facing some adversity.
“He has your best interests in number one,” McCullers Jr. said. “He wants the best for you; he’s been there since you were born, and you feel most comfortable with him…
“From a young age he always taught me to really appreciate the game. Really when you go out there it’s a blessing; when you’re able to pitch in a game and compete, it’s special. When it’s gone it’s gone so you better take advantage of it while you have it.”
The McCullers’ family talent does not end with Lance. His younger brother Ryan plays at Jesuit, an all-boys prep school. McCullers Jr. won the National Gatorade player of the year at the same high school in 2012.
In a few games that season he had the opportunity to play with his younger brother, who is an up-and-coming catcher prospect.
“I got the chance to play with Ryan, when I was a senior and he was a sophomore,” the elder McCullers brother said. “He got to catch me a couple games; it was really special. [We had a] good connection out there on the mound, that’s something I won’t forget. It’s a blessing to get to play with the family.”
McCullers Jr. likes to be a role model not only for his teammates, but for his brother as well. Recently, he attended one of Ryan’s games, and went to the dugout to provide him with some advice on his approach at the plate. That led to a nice hit into the right-centre field gap.
The brothers have a dream of playing together in the major leagues one day.
“He goes to my dad a lot, but if I throw my two cents in there he listens,” Lance said. “He takes it when I give it to him. I am his big brother. Hopefully he looks up to me and comes to me if he needs anything. His goal is catch me in the big leagues.”
Ryan McCullers has committed to Middle Tennessee State. MLB scouts will keep a close eye on him during his junior campaign there as teams have to wait a year to be draft the young catcher.
Don’t be surprised if the youngest McCullers is the 41st player selected in the 2015 draft with older brother Lance waiting for him on the mound.