The Dodgers were the only team that would sign Jared Karros using this draft cycle.
And not just because of his father.
Jared, son of former Dodgers slugger and current SportsNet LA analyst Eric Karros, was one of the most intriguing selections the Dodgers made during this week’s MLB draft.
The 6-foot-7 right-handed pitcher from UCLA was selected during Tuesday’s 16th round.
He’s a bit unknown, having missed all of last season and much of 2021 with a back injury, as well as most of the 2020 season due to it being canceled by the pandemic.
But the Dodgers are hoping he proves a steal now that he’s finally recovering and ready to resume his long-delayed playing career.
“It’s definitely pretty awesome, just they’re the local team, always grew up watching them, cheering them on, going to games,” Jared said. “But there is more. With their development and organization, it’s more than just the local team that I’m attached to. It is an organization that offers me the best opportunity to advance my career.”
Had he not been selected by the Dodgers, Jared likely would have returned to UCLA.
He’s just a junior and would have had three seasons left due to the 2020 campaign being shortened by the pandemic and his injury this year.
He would have had a spot in UCLA’s starting rotation and could serve as a key veteran arm on a team that lost in an NCAA tournament regional finals this year.
Most importantly, he could have improved his draft inventory in a year.
Before he was injured, UCLA coach John Savage said Jared “became one of the best pitchers in the Pac-12,” complementing a low 90s mph fastball with a changeup, a curveball and a slider.
With another productive and healthy season, Savage was confident that Jared could have advanced to the first six or seven rounds and maybe even higher.
“I would call it an unfulfilling career at UCLA, and he would feel the same way,” Savage said. “But I think you can build a guy there who can be pretty solid. … It’s just about building himself up and making sure he gets stronger. You might be surprised how good he is.”
A product of Manhattan Beach Mira Costa High, Jared ended a decorated preparatory career by enrolling at his father’s alma mater — albeit in a different position.
“I just like having the ball in my hand and being in control,” Jared said of why he became interested in pitching.
Eric joked he had a different theory.
“He probably didn’t want to hear me tell him how to bat anymore,” the former first baseman said, laughing.
Jared made four appearances as a freshman in 2020 before the season was abandoned in the early days of the pandemic.
The next year, he was the opening-day starter at UCLA and had a 3.33 ERA in seven appearances and accumulated 32 strikeouts in 27 innings.
However, after a start against USC on March 28, 2021, “Jared started to feel some back fatigue,” Eric said. He was sidelined for the remainder of the season, made an unsuccessful comeback attempt earlier this year, and entered the draft with just 11 collegiate appearances.
“It’s certainly been a tough couple of years, with a lot of adversity to contend with,” Jared said. “But it really showed me my appreciation for baseball, how much I’ve really missed it and love it.”
The injury didn’t stop several MLB clubs from expressing interest in Jared ahead of this week’s draft. But ultimately he decided if he was going to pass up a chance to go back to school and improve his draft stock, it would have to be with the Dodgers.
“The Dodgers are about as complete an organization as I’ve seen in terms of their minor league development,” Eric said. “You will be the best version of yourself.”
It helped that Eric was a former Dodgers star who had spent 12 of his 14 MLB seasons with the team, won 1992 rookie of the year and set the franchise’s club record with 270 home runs in Los Angeles.
But Jared had built his own familiarity with the organization.
During his rehab last year, the pitcher worked alongside Brandon McDaniel, the Dodgers vice president of player performance, and Keith Pyne, a team medical advisor.
He occasionally visited Dodger Stadium to practice and throw.
And he said he’s impressed with “how helpful they are, how many resources they offer and how personable many of them are. It just felt very inviting.”
Entering the final day of the draft on Tuesday, Karros wasn’t sure the Dodgers would roll the dice. As he entered the final laps, his fate was still undecided.
But in the 16th round, Jared’s name popped up on the screen with the Dodgers listed next to it.
“It was just a lot of emotion, super excited,” Jared said. “All the hard work is really starting to pay off.”
https://www.latimes.com/sports/dodgers/story/2022-07-21/ucla-pitcher-jared-karros-dodgers UCLA pitcher Jared Karros gets his wish with joining Dodgers