John Rhodes is the first Wildcat off the board in the 2021 MLB Draft. The UK outfielder was taken in the third round of this year’s draft, selected by the Baltimore Orioles with the 76th overall pick. The pick is valued at just over $818,000.
Last season Rhodes led the Bat Cats in runs (47), doubles (15), walks (28), and hit by pitch (18), batting .251 with 11 home runs and 36 RBIs. His best season was his first in Lexington, earning National co-Freshman of the Year honors during the COVID-19 shortened 2020 season. He is Nick Mingione’s fifth former player taken in the top 90 picks of the MLB Draft.
Rhodes is now in a unique position. Typically the draft is held in June. Once COVID-19 pushed the event to the All-Star break, Rhodes became draft eligible after just his sophomore season, pushing his “stay or go” decision up one year.
The Wildcats could certainly use him next season. According to Derek Terry of The Cats’ Pause, my go-to UK baseball source, Rhodes would be Kentucky’s top power hitter and most likely bat third in the 2022 lineup. We’ll soon find out if one more year in Lexington is worth just shy of a million dollars.