Lourdes Gurriel Sr. enjoys seeing his sons in the MLB where he couldn’t play

Lourdes Gurriel Sr. was a star player in Cuba from the late 1970s through the early 1990s. He wasn’t allowed to play in the major leagues in the USA due to political restrictions by his country.

His sons, Yuliesky and Lourdes Jr., got the opportunity he didn’t have, and they are now playing in the big leagues. Yuli will be starting his fourth season with the Houston Astros, while Lourdes Jr. will begin his second season with the Toronto Blue Jays.

Follow the link below to a story from mlb.com about the Gurriel family:

https://www.mlb.com/news/yuli-and-lourdes-gurriel-jr-live-dads-dream/c-302419012

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Kyler Murray has big career decision facing him

Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray is facing the biggest decision of his life–to play professional football or baseball, or both.

The Oklahoma Sooner quarterback was drafted in the first round of the 2018 MLB Draft by the Oakland A’s and signed for a bonus of $4.6 million. He is slated to report to spring training next month. Then there’s the NFL Draft in April, where Murray will likely be a high-round draft choice.

So, which route will Murray take? He doesn’t yet know how he will adjust to pro baseball and where his ability stands as a true prospect. By the same token, is he too small for an NFL QB’s job?

The story below in sportsday.dallasnews.com describes a scenario where Murray could return to Oklahoma next fall, after playing in the A’s minor-league system this year to see how he would fare out, and still keep his signing bonus.

In fact, his father, Kevin Murray, was in a similar situation back in the early 1980s and may serve as an approach for Kyler, too.

https://sportsday.dallasnews.com/college-sports/collegesports/2019/01/09/gil-brandt-right-oakland-draft-pick-kyler-murray-could-follow-fathers-blueprint-return-oklahoma

Chief QB Patrick Mahomes has baseball in his bloodlines

NFL rookie quarterback Patrick Mahomes has taken the football world by storm. His superb performance for the Kansas City Chiefs this year has him in the running for NFL’s Most Valuable Player Award.

In addition to his football skills, he also has a background in baseball.  In fact he was drafted out of high school by the Detroit Tigers in the 37th round of the 2014 MLB Draft.

Plus, his farther Patrick Mahomes played major-league baseball for 11 seasons (1992-2003), finishing with a 42-30 won-loss record and 5.47 ERA.

Mahomes Sr. thought his son’s pro career would be in baseball.  Follow the link below from the Star-Telegram to read a story about this.  https://www.star-telegram.com/sports/spt-columns-blogs/mac-engel/article224077675.html

Rocco Baldelli Named New Twins Manager

Rocco Baldelli grew up in the Tampa Bay Rays organization as a player, coach, and front office administrator.  He also played one season for the Boston Red Sox.  He was recently named the new manager of the Minnesota Twins for the 2019 season, replacing Paul Molitor.

Baldelli’s brother, Dante, was drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 39th round of the 2016 MLB Draft, but did not sign.  Dante played collegiately for Boston College.  Rocco’s brother Nick played for Trinity College, while brother Minh Pham played for the University of Rhode Island.

For more information about Rocco’s appointments as new Twins manager, follow the link below:

https://www.minnpost.com/sports/2018/10/in-hiring-rocco-baldelli-the-twins-get-a-prototype-for-the-modern-major-league-manager/

Heisman Trophy Winner Kyler Murray has Baseball in his Bloodlines

University of Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray captured the Heisman Trophy Award this year, after one of the best statistical seasons ever for a college quarterback. 

Murray was the first-round selection (9th overall) of the Oakland A’s in this year’s MLB Draft.  He had a productive season with the Sooners in 2018 as an outfielder, batting .296 with 10 home runs and 47 RBI.  He signed with the A’s for a $4.66 million bonus.

Murray is the nephew of former major leaguer Calvin Murray, who played in five major-league seasons with the Giants, Rangers, and Cubs.  Kyler’s father, Kevin Murray, played one season in the Brewers organization in 1982.

The big question is whether Murray will stick with his original baseball plans or pursue a career in the NFL, or both.

Follow the links below for additional information about Kyler Murray:

https://www.sfgate.com/athletics/article/Kyler-Murray-s-agent-A-s-pick-will-fulfill-13447657.php?src=hp_totn

Next-Gen MLB Family Ties

I just completed my annual compilation of active major-league and minor-league players and non-players (managers, coaches, scouts, executives, etc.) who have relatives in baseball. The number of family ties in baseball appears to be more prevalent than ever.

Former pro players, especially those who only played in minors and never attained a major-league salary, see opportunities for their sons to excel through personal coaching and today’s competitive environment of club and travel baseball. The prospect of attaining current-day salaries from major-league contracts is a real incentive to push their sons toward pro baseball.

Major-league scouts and front office personnel are sending their sons in larger numbers to the pro ranks as players. Even if they never played at the pro level themselves, they frequently use their professional insight as a competitive edge to help their sons achieve success at amateur, collegiate, and ultimately professional levels.

Even the MLB Home Run Derby contests during the annual All-Star Game festivities provide another indication of the influence family ties have in the game. A number of the recent major-league contestants have used family members to pitch to them, including Bryce Harper, Kris Bryant, Todd Frazier, Robinson Cano, and Javy Lopez. It’s apparent it’s not the first time these family combos have been in batting practice situations together.

The 2019 baseball season portends to produce another bumper crop of players with major-league bloodlines, who will be making their own major-league debut. There are some very familiar names among the potential first-year players: Bichette, Guerrero, Mazzilli, Biggio, and Yastrzemski. Additionally, there are other players who are likely part of the next generation of MLB players with family ties.

The most notable of the potential rookies is Vlad Guerrero Jr., Baseball America’s Minor League Player of the Year in 2018. He is the son of Vladimir Guererro who was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame last year. Vlad Jr. played in his third pro season at age 19 in the Toronto Blue Jays organization. He split the season at the Double-A and Triple-A levels where he posted a combined slash line of .381/.437/.636. The third baseman hit 20 HR and 78 RBI in a total of 95 games. He is expected to make the big-league roster coming out of spring training next year.

Two of Guerrero’s minor-league teammates in 2018 were also sons of major leaguers: infielder Bo Bichette, son of four-time all-star Dante Bichette, and infielder Cavan Biggio, son of Hall of Famer Craig Biggio. They had banner offensive seasons in 2018 as well. They won’t likely make the big-league club right away in 2019, but don’t be surprised if they get call-ups during the season, as the Blue Jays start settling their roster for the next few years.

Mike Yastrzemski, who plays in the Orioles organization, is the grandson of Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski. The former 14th-round pick played his third season at the Triple-A level last year. The O’s have started a complete makeover of their roster, and Yastrzemski could likely find himself as one of their new candidates for an outfield spot. His father Mike formerly played at the Triple-A level in the White Sox organization, falling short of a major-league appearance.

L.J. Mazzilli is the son of former big-league player and manager Lee Mazzilli. Like his father, he started out in the Mets organization, but was traded to the New York Yankees early last spring and played for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He could eventually claim a big-league spot due to his versatility as an infielder and outfielder.

Besides Guerrero, one of the most talked about minor leaguers in 2018 was Fernando Tatis, Jr. He figures to be one of the new stars for a San Diego Padres franchise starving for a new face of the team. Tatis is the son of Fernando Tatis, who played in the big leagues for five teams during 1997 and 2010. The 19-year-old shortstop hit 16 HR and 43 RBI in 88 games for San Antonio, before missing most of the second half of the season due to injury. He plays at an advanced level for his age, and the Padres will likely take advantage of that situation next year.

Kevin Cron, corner infielder in the Arizona Diamondbacks organization, put up big number in 2018 at the Triple-A level that included a .309/.368/.654 slash line, 22 HR, and 97 RBI. He is the brother of current major-leaguer C. J. Cron and the son of former big-leaguer Chris Cron. As the D’backs ponder the potential trade of its all-star first-baseman Paul Goldschmidt, Cron would be at the top of the list as his likely replacement.

Left-handed pitcher Brandon Leibrandt had an impressive season with the Philadelphia Phillies Triple-A club, posting a 1.42 ERA and .868 WHIP in 20 appearances. His father, Charlie Leibrandt, was a major-league pitcher for 14 seasons, amassing 140 career wins and a 3.71 ERA and making World Series appearances with the Kansas City Royals and Atlanta Braves.

Cal Quantrill was a first-round pick of the San Diego Padres in 2016 and has progressed rapidly in their system. He made a total of 28 starts in 2018 split between Double-A and Triple-A levels, compiling a 9-6 record and 4.80 ERA. His father is Paul Quantrill, a major-league relief pitcher for 14 seasons who led the National League in appearances for four consecutive seasons.

Austin Nola is the brother of Philadelphia Phillies ace Aaron Nola. Formerly an infielder who converted to the catcher position in 2017, he hit .279 last year for the Miami Marlins’ Triple-A affiliate New Orleans. If the Marlins’ major-league catcher J. T. Realmuto winds up getting traded during the off-season, Nola could find himself in a backup role with the Marlins in 2019.

Kean Wong is an infielder/outfielder in the Tampa Bay Rays organization. A fourth-round pick out of high school in 2013, he is the brother of St. Louis Cardinals infielder Kolten Wong. At Triple-A Durham last year, Kean posted a slash line of .282/.345/.406, 9 HR, and 50 RBI. He could see a promotion as a utility player in 2019.

2018 Family Ties Update

Contributed by Richard Cuicchi

Ever since I wrote Family Ties in 2012, I have been maintaining a database of information about current and past players and non-players. Non-players include managers, coaches, scouts, executives, owners, broadcasters, umpires and other roles.

I completed my compilation of major-league and minor-league players and non-players active in 2018 who have relatives in pro baseball, and I have posted several sorts of the information (in various PDF files) on this website under the page labeled 2018 Family Ties Season.

This year had 684 active major and minor league players, representing 976 family relationships (fathers, sons, brothers, uncles, nephews, grandfathers, grandsons, cousins, etc.)

There were 872 non-players active in 2018, representing 1,565 family relationships.

23 players that made their major-league debut in 2018 had relatives in pro baseball.

54 players that were drafted in 2018 had relatives.

341 active players and non-players had an additional 439 relationships in other sports (football, basketball, volleyball, softball, etc.) or other levels (amateur, college, professional, foreign leagues, Olympics, etc.)

Click here to retrieve the 2018 Family Ties lists.