Chris Duncan dies at age 38

Former major league player Chris Duncan died on September 6, 2019, at age 38.  He had played five seasons in the big leagues for the St. Louis Cardinals from 2005 to 2009. His 22 home runs in 2006 helped the Cardinals win the NL pennant and go on to defeat the Detroit Tigers in the World Series.

Most recently Duncan had been a sports radio host on a local St. Louis station.

Duncan is the son of Dave Duncan, a former major-league player and a long-time coach for the Oakland A’s and St. Louis Cardinals.  Chris’s brother, Shelley, is also a former major-league player from 2007 to 2013 with the Yankees, Indians, and Rays.

To read more about Chris Duncan, click here for a recent article from the Pittsburgh-Post Gazette.

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Taylor and Tyler Rogers: rare set of MLB twins

Contributed by Richard Cuicchi

There have been over 19,600 major-league ballplayers in the history of the game. Only twenty of them have the distinction of being a member of a set of twins. When Tyler Rogers made his major-league debut on August 27 in a relief appearance for the San Francisco Giants, he joined his brother Taylor as the tenth set of twins to play in the big leagues. Taylor had previously reached the majors in 2016 with the Minnesota Twins and has been a strength in their bullpen since then. Taylor picked up his 21st save on the same night as Tyler’s debut.

The rare twins are among a total of 395 sets of brothers to wear major-league uniforms. The Rogers pair are the first set to play in the majors since Damon and Ryan Minor in 2000.

After playing together for Chatwood High School in Lincoln, Colorado, the Rogers brothers took separate paths in their professional careers. Tyler went on to play for Austin Peay University while Taylor played for the University of Kentucky, although he had been selected out of high school By Baltimore in the 37th round of the 2009 MLB Draft. Taylor signed with the Twins after being drafted again in 2012 in the 11th round. Tyler was selected and signed by the Giants in the next year’s draft.

Although the Rogers twins are identical, Taylor is a southpaw who averages over ten strikeouts per nine innings, while Tyler is a right-handed submarine-style pitcher relying more on pitching to contact to get batters out.

Here’s a quick rundown of the other major-league twins.

The first pair of twins to play in the majors were Bill and George Hunter between 1909 and 1912. They were followed by Joe and Red Shannon, who played as 18-year-olds on the same team in Joe’s only major league season in 1915.

Ray and Roy Grimes made their major-league debuts in 1920, the only season Roy would play. A third Grimes brother, Kenneth, played in three minor-league seasons, while Ray’s son, Oscar, would also play in the majors from 1939 to 1946.

Claude and Bubber Jonnard appeared in the majors in the early 1920s. It would be another 30 years before the next set of twins would reach the majors, when 22-year-old Eddie and Johnny O’Brien formed the double-play combination for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1953.

Mike and Marshall Edwards had brief careers during the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. They also had a younger brother, Dave, who also played five major-league seasons.

Stan and Stew Cliburn both played for the California Angels during the 1980s, but not at the same time. After their playing days, the pair held managerial and coaching positions together for several minor-league teams in the Minnesota Twins organization.

Jose Canseco is the most noteworthy of all the major-league twins. He was American League Rookie of the Year in 1986, the AL MVP in 1988, and a six-time all-star who amassed 462 career home runs. His lesser-known brother, Ozzie, played only 24 major-league games spread over three seasons, never hitting a home run.

Ryan Minor is most remembered for having taken Cal Ripken’s spot in the lineup when Ripken ended his streak in 1998 for most consecutive games played. Minor played four seasons with Baltimore and Montreal, while his twin Damon played four seasons with San Francisco.

Possibly following the Rogers brothers with distinction as the next major-league twins are brothers Luis Alejandro Basabe (Diamondbacks organization) and Luis Alexander Basabe (White Sox organization). The native-born Venezuelans are active this year, working their way through the minors.

Boston’s current all-star shortstop Xander Bogaerts is a twin whose brother, Jair, played in the minors at 17 and 18-years-old, but never made it out the Dominican rookie leagues.

Over the years, there have been numerous former major-leaguers with twin brothers that also couldn’t get past the minors, including Vern Law (1950-1967), Russ Nixon (1957-1968), Brian Doyle (1978-1981), Tony Fernandez (1983-2001), and Mike Mimbs (1995-1997).

Twin brothers have never pitched against each other in the majors. Maybe one day soon we’ll see the Rogers twins taking their turns on the hill for opposing teams.

Brothers Kyle and Bradley Zimmer look forward to facing each other in the big leagues

Brothers Kyle and Bradley Zimmer have both reached the majors, after they were both highly-touted draft picks–Kyle a first round pick of the Kansas City Royals in 2012 and Bradley a second round pick of the Cleveland Indians two years later.

Pitcher Kyle made his debut with the Royals early this season, but has spent most of the year in Omaha.  Outfielder Bradley played parts of the 2017 and 2018 seasons with Cleveland, but has missed most of 2019 due to injuries. 

Both are hoping they will have major-league jobs next year and look forward to the day when they can face each other.

Click here to read more about the Zimmer brothers at sdnews.com.

Clemens Brothers Face Each Other in Minors

Kacy and Kody Clements have big shoes to fill, since their father, Roger, is one of the all-time great pitchers in major league baseball.

The brothers aren’t close to the big leagues yet, but they’re trying to make their way in the Class A Florida State League and recently played against each other.

Kacy currently plays first base for Dunedin, an affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays, while Kody plays second for Lakeland in the Detroit Tigers organization. 

Their older brother Koby played in the minors from 2005 to 2012, reaching the Triple-A level in the Houston Astros organization in 2011.

Click here to read more about the Clemens brothers.

Gurriel brothers oppose each other with legendary father in attendance

Brothers Yuli and Lourdes Jr. Gurriel played against each other on Father’s Day weekend in Houston. It wasn’t the first time the brothers opposed each other, but it was special this time because their father, Lourdes Gurriel Sr. attended the games between the Houston Astros and Toronto Blue Jays.

Yuli is in his his fourth major-league season with the Astros, while Lourdes Jr. is in his second with the Blue Jays. The brothers defected from Cuba in 2016 in order to be able to play pro baseball in the United States.

Lourdes Gurriel Sr. is one of the all-time best players from Cuba, having garnered over 20 medals for Team Cuba in international play.

For more information about the Gurriel family, click on this link from lavidabaseball.com.

Austin Nola finally gets his shot in the bigs

In his eighth professional season, 29-year-old Austin Nola made his major-league debut with the Seattle Mariners on June 16. He is the brother of Aaron Nola, pitcher for the Philadelphia Phillies.

Austin was drafted out of LSU by the Miami Marlins in the fifth round of the 2012 MLB Draft. He started out his pro career as a shortstop, then switched to catcher, and now plays first base. He was signed as a free agent by the Mariners last November.

For more information about Austin, click on this link from lsusports.net

MLB draft keeps family ties pipeline filled

Contributed by Richard Cuicchi

In some families, there is a legacy of sons following in their father’s footsteps as lawyers, doctors, farmers, and military servicemen, often spanning several generations.  Professional baseball is also one of those occupations where sons dream of playing their father’s game, ultimately hoping to reach the big leagues.

Major League Baseball’s annual amateur draft took place last week and realized plenty of opportunities to replenish the pipeline of new players who have family ties in the sport.  Over 60 players were drafted that have a relative who currently or previously played professional baseball.  Five of these had brothers who currently play in the big leagues.  28 are sons of former major leaguers.  Nephews, cousins, grandsons, and great-grandsons of former major leaguers, as well as relatives of minor league players, account for the balance.  All of these players contribute to an ever-growing pipeline of young men with family ties in baseball.

The 2019 MLB Draft was no different from past years in terms of interesting backgrounds of the drafted players.

Bobby Witt Jr. was the second overall pick of the draft by the Kansas City Royals.  His father Bobby Witt Sr. was a third-round pick in 1985, thus making them the highest ranked father-son duo in draft history.  An indication of how much things have changed in 34 years, the younger Witt stands to sign for over $7 million as a bonus, whereas his father received $179,000.  Other first-rounders with family ties this year were Logan Davidson (A’s), Alek Manoah (Blue Jays), Hunter Bishop (Giants) and Sammy Siani (Pirates).

Multiple generations of baseball families are becoming more common. This year, Grae Kessinger (grandson of Don Kessinger), Trei Cruz (grandson of Jose Cruz Sr.), and Luke Bell (grandson of Buddy Bell) were drafted.  In fact, if Luke Bell was to ultimately make the majors, he would become the fourth generation in his family to play, which has never occurred before.  His father is former major-leaguer Mike Bell, while his great-grandfather was Gus Bell, a major leaguer in the 1950s.  Other grandsons of major leaguers include Jonathan Allen (grandson of Don Landrum) and Ryan Berardino (grandson of Dwight Evans).  Berardino’s other grandfather, Dick Berardino, was a long-time minor-league coach and instructor in the Red Sox organization.

Eleven drafted players had more than one relative.  In addition to Kessinger, Cruz, and Bell, Nick Paciorek had three uncles (Tom, John, and Jim) who played in the big leagues.  Jack Leiter’s father (Al), uncle (Mark), and cousin (Mark Jr.) have played in the majors.

Brothers Jake (Yankees, 24th round) and Micah Pries (Indians, 13th round) were both selected in this year’s draft.  Their father Jeff was a minor-league player in the 1980s.

Braden Halladay, son of recently-elected Hall of Fame pitcher Roy Halladay, was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays, one of his father’s former teams.  However, the younger Halladay has already stated his intention to play for Penn State next year.

Yorvis Torrealba was selected by the Colorado Rockies.  His father, Yorvit, fairly recently retired from the game in 2014 at age 35.  Had the father been able to remain active a few more years, it would have potentially set up a situation where the father-son duo could have played in the majors at the same time.  There have been only two previous occasions of father-son combos accomplishing this feat:  Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr. and his father; and Hall of Famer Tim Raines and his son.

Several of the drafted players have relatives in the managerial and front office ranks of major-league teams.  Dylan Hoffman (son of Glenn Hoffman), Cole Roberts (son of Dave Roberts), and Nic Ready (son of Randy Ready) are the sons of major-league managers.  Cade Hunter, Davis Moore, Nate Bombach, and Chase Solesky are the sons of major-league scouts.  Jonah DiPoto is the son of Mariners general manager Jerry DiPoto.

There were an additional 16 players selected that had relatives in sports other than professional baseball.  Blake Sabol (Pirates, 7th round) is the cousin of current NFL player Troy Polamalu, while Todd Lott (Nationals, 9th round) is the son of NFL Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott.  Jake Mangum’s (Mets, 4th round) father (John), grandfather (John Sr.), and uncle (Kris) were former NFL players.

Three drafted players had family ties with participants in the Olympic Games.  The mother of Oraj Anu (Red Sox, 16th round) was a sprinter representing the Bahamas in the 1984 Olympics.  Mason Janvrin’s (Orioles, 14th round) father was a decathlete in the 2000 Olympics for the United States.  Alex MacFarlane’s (Cardinals 25th round) mother participated in the 1988 Olympics in taekwondo for the US Virgin Islands.

The grandfather of Adley Rutschmann, the Number 1 overall pick of the draft by the Orioles, won NAIA national championships in both college football and baseball for tiny Linfield College in Oregon.

The entire list of 2019 draftees can be viewed at https://baseballrelatives.files.wordpress.com/2019/06/2019-mlb-drafted-players-v1-formatted.pdf