The New York Yankees and Paul O'Neill went hand in hand for nine seasons of the latter's professional career, and the franchise brought back a piece of that legacy on Friday afternoon in the 2013 MLB draft.
The Bronx Bombers selected O'Neill's nephew, Michael, in the third round of the draft on Friday afternoon. He was the 103rd overall selection, and the team's Public Relations account on Twitter made the news official following the pick:
O'Neill, who hit .303 with 185 home runs in his nine years with the Yankees, is currently a member of the YES Network, which broadcasts New York's games. He was quick to congratulate his nephew on Twitter following the announcement:
Congrats to my nephew Michael O'Neill... Drafted by the Yankees today!!!— Paul O'Neill (@PaulONeillYES) June 7, 2013
An outfielder like his uncle, the Michigan junior is actually a great value pick for the Yankees, especially if you agree with this pre-draft ranking posted by Chris Solari of the Lansing State Journal:
Baseball American ranked Michigan's Michael O'Neill No. 79 player overall in draft, he went with 103rd pick (3rd round).— Chris Solari (@chrissolari) June 7, 2013
O'Neill (6'1", 195 pounds) played in and started all 56 of his team's games in non-conference and Big Ten play this season, leading the Wolverines in batting average at .356 and adding five home runs, 37 RBI, a .498 slugging percentage and a .396 on-base percentage in 239 at-bats.
His 23 stolen bases in 27 attempts also led Michigan during the 2013 season.
The younger O'Neill was drafted by the Yankees previously in the 42nd round of the 2010 MLB first-year player draft straight out of high school, but O'Neill chose to go to Michigan instead. The Yankees likely kept their eye on him during his three seasons at school, and liked the product enough to leap 39 rounds before they did in 2010.
Yankees take Michael O'Neill from Michigan. That's former Yankee Paul O'Neill's nephew. First Big Ten player drafted.— Chris Solari (@chrissolari) June 7, 2013
Bleacher Report's Adam Wells broke down O'Neill and his draft stock after the Yankees made the move, and called O'Neill a "solid-average center fielder who will hit for average" in his piece profiling the young man who has one more year of eligibility remaining in the NCAA.
It's never easy to make the leap from college to the professional ranks, but O'Neill will already have an ally to look to in the form of his uncle—already a franchise legend after helping the Yankees win multiple World Series titles and making the All-Star game four times while in pinstripes.
Nephew Michael will have a long way to go to match the production, importance and legend that his uncle has left before him, but it's always nice when teams take a look at players who have a personal tie to former franchise greats.
As it happens, O'Neill might just have the chops to help the Yankees' outfield one day just 12 years after his uncle retired from the game for good.