Honing his own strike zone—Jaden Agassi set to swing away at MLB dream

Honing his own strike zone—Jaden Agassi set to swing away at MLB dream

The son of Andre Agassi and Stefanie Graf was poised to be a high MLB draft pick, until the coronavirus turned the baseball world upside down.

A primary theme from Andre Agassi’s autobiography, “Open,” was his resentment of the sport that made him a global superstar. For aspiring professional tennis players, it’s hard to grapple with.

After a brief recap of his 1992 Wimbledon championship, Agassi harped on the loneliness of tennis, how he didn’t want to be there, and how his desire to compete was dampened by his father's overbearing nature. After recounting some of his many triumphs, Agassi quickly shifted his focus to his disdain for the sport. As fascinating as the book is, it remains quite unrelatable to many talented players who can only dream of having on-court success like his.

Upon reading the autobiography, it makes perfect sense why Agassi’s son, Jaden, hardly ever picked up a racquet. It's worth noting mom Stefanie Graf, a fellow International Tennis Hall Of Fame inductee, also had an intense, often volatile "crazy tennis parent" father. Despite inheriting arguably the greatest genetic disposition for hand-eye coordination the sports world has ever seen, there would be no living up to his parents' successes on the court. Exceeding their accomplishments in tennis was a statistical impossibility. 

Instead, Jaden put his inherent athletic abilities to good use in another sport. According to Perfectgame.org, a baseball scouting service, the recent University of Southern California commit, who pitches and plays third base, can “easily hit the low 90’s on the mound, has a very high ceiling with the bat and keeps making jumps every time we see him.”

He is currently rated as the No. 2 overall recruit in Nevada, and the nation’s 171st best player in the class of 2020. According to a scout, if Agassi didn’t recently undergo Tommy John surgery, he could have been a top-10 round draft pick for sure. Here is a video of Jaden—so far away you can hardly see him, and facing a stiff wind—launching a ball directly into his father’s glove. 

“I love baseball,” Agassi told MLB.com. “I love the teammates, surviving and fighting with your brothers. Every game comes with a new set of challenges, and I really love figuring those out.”

It’s great that Agassi loves challenges, because the current situation for graduating high school seniors with hopes of a professional career is dire. The coronavirus has affected every sport in one way or another, but baseball might be the hardest hit of all. The MLB announced they were condensing (to put it lightly) the 2020 draft to just five rounds. Normally, the MLB draft entails 40 rounds. Last year, 1,217 players saw their names scroll across the MLB Network’s ticker. This year, just 160 players will be drafted. 

Not only does this impact players like the 6’3 210 lb. Agassi, who as the 171st prospect would have surely been drafted high enough to secure a significant signing bonus. It also impacts their chances of success in college.

Many college seniors who normally would have entered the draft have no choice but to return for a fifth year. This will create a massive logjam across NCAA baseball rosters, especially at perennial powerhouse programs like USC. As good as the incoming freshman might be, their chances of upending a returning senior with an extra four years of growth, development, and Division 1 playing experience are slim to none. Agassi could theoretically still be drafted, but his chances for this year, like so many others, are nearly diminished.

USC baseball’s Dedeaux Stadium is adjacent to the David X. Marks Tennis Stadium, and hard-hit foul balls frequently land on the tennis courts. For USC tennis fans, it’s likely that an Agassi will hit some balls on their court in the very near future. But for these types of balls, they should probably duck.