After a longer than expected wait, Notre Dame Fighting Irish first baseman Niko Kavadas was selected in the 11th round of the MLB Draft, 316th overall to the Boston Red Sox. Kavadas joins pitcher Tanner Kohlhepp, taken in the 5th round yesterday, as members of the 2021 Irish to be taken so far in the draft.
Kavadas had a terrific season at the plate, leading Notre Dame’s offense with 22 home runs, 64 RBIs, and a .767 SLG%. Kavadas also had an incredible performance for Notre Dame in the South Bend Regional this year, where he hit five home runs with 13 RBIs in only three games. He was selected as a First Team All-American this season by D1Baseball, Perfect Game, and Baseball America.
Kavadas was ranked as the 135th overall prospect by MLB.com, so to see him lasting until #316 is certainly surprising. He does have another year of eligibility if he chooses not to sign a contract and return to Notre Dame. One reason for Kavadas’ slide could be his lack of versatility. He has limited range and speed so he will be limited as a professional to first base or designated hitter. He certainly has the offensive tools to offset the defense though and could excel at either position.
Another reason could be contract demands, and I think it is quite telling that he was drafted so early in the eleventh round. If teams knew he would ask for more than slot value of a fifth round pick or so they may have stayed away until the eleventh round, when signing bonuses no longer count against pool money. We will see if there is any truth to that if/when he signs a contract. For now though, Boston certainly seems like a good landing spot for a left handed power hitter like Kavadas.