Baseball Roots Run Deep for Ronald Acuna Jr.

Atlanta Braves rookie sensation Ronald Acuna Jr. finally got the big-leagues on April 25 after a lot of hype during spring training. The Braves top prospect in 2017, he was named the Minor League Player of the Year by Baseball America.

Acuna’s family is no stranger to baseball diamonds.  His father, Ronald Sr., played eight minor-league seasons from 1999 to 2006, mostly as an outfielder in the Mets organizations.  His grandfather, Romualdo Blanco, played in the minors from 1971 to 1977 in the Mets and Padres organizations.

Ronald Jr.’s younger brother Luisangel is a top prospect in Venezuela and will be eligible for the international signing period later this summer.

He has four major-league cousins: Vicente Campos (currently with the Los Angeles Angels organization), Alcides Escobar (currently with the Kansas City Royals), Edwin Escobar (last played with Arizona in 2016), and Kelvim Escobar (last played with the Angels in 2009).  His uncle, Jose Escobar, played with the Cleveland Indians in 1991.

For more information about Ronald Acuna Jr. and his father, click on the links below from mlb.com:

https://www.mlb.com/braves/news/5-things-you-need-to-know-about-ronald-acuna/c-273788768

https://www.mlb.com/news/jose-reyes-played-with-ronald-acunas-father/c-274934382

 

 

 

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State College of Florida Has Three Players with MLB Ties

Three members of the State College of Florida Manatees team have family ties in the major-leagues.

Jaren Shelby is the son of John Shelby, former outfielder for 11 seasons, primarily playing for the Los Angeles Dodgers and Baltimore Orioles.  Jaren’s cousin, Josh Harrison, is currently playing for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Brock Bell is the son of Jay Bell, former infielder for 18 seasons, primarily playing for the Pittsburgh Pirates and Arizona Diamondbacks.  Brock’s brother, Brantley, is currently an infielder in the Cincinnati Reds farm system.

Rougie Odor is the nephew of current Texas Ranger shortstop Rougned Odor.  His father, Rouglas Odor, played in the minors and is currently a minor-league coach.

To read more about these three college players, follow the link below from the Bradenton Herald:

http://www.bradenton.com/sports/article209237439.html

Will Top Prospect Vlad Guerrero Jr. be the First to Join His Father in the Hall?

Contributed by Richard Cuicchi

In many respects, it’s ridiculous to predict the Hall of Fame career of a player who has played less than 200 minor league games. Yet it’s tempting to do so when the player is rated the top hitting prospect in the minors, and he also has the baseball bloodlines of a Hall of Famer.

While his father played major-league baseball during 1996 to 2011 and was recently elected to the 2018 class of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, Vlad Guerrero Jr. is just starting to blaze his own trail in professional baseball as an 18-year-old.

Guerrero Jr. just completed his second season in the Toronto Blue Jays organization, after collecting a $3.9 million bonus during the international signing process in 2016.  He began this year at Single-A Lansing and then got a mid-season promotion to High-A Dunedin.  Between the two teams, he managed to hit 13 home runs and drive in 76 runs, while hitting for a .323 average.

He was recently named the top hitting prospect in the minor leagues, attaining a rating of 80 (out of a possible 80) by baseball analysts at MLB Pipeline. It is the first time a prospect has ever received that rating in the hit tools category.  Guerrero Jr. is the third overall top prospect in all of Major League Baseball and the top-rated prospect in the Blue Jays organization.  While he still requires some maturing, it’s not out of the question he could be playing in the big leagues in 2019.

He is being compared to current major-leaguer Miguel Cabrera, who began his major-league career in 2003 at age 20, went on to win two MVP Awards, and is a cinch as a future Hall of Famer.

Guerrero Sr. garnered 92.9% of the vote in his second season of eligibility for the Hall of Fame. He will be first player to go in as an Angels player, even though his career also included significant time with the Montreal Expos.  He is the third Dominican player to be elected, following pitchers Juan Marichal and Pedro Martinez.

Guerrero Sr. was a five-tool talent, finishing his career with a .318/.379/.533 slash line. With a reputation as an unconventional hitter, he collected 449 home runs, 1,596 RBI, and 1,328 runs scored.  His career accomplishments included nine All-Star selections and eight Silver Slugger Awards.  In his first year with the Angels in 2004, he was the American League’s Most Valuable Player, leading the Angels to a first-place finish in the AL West.  He made his only World Series appearance with the Texas Rangers in 2010.

Guerrero Jr. continues the family tradition in professional baseball. In addition to his father, uncles Wilton and Julio played pro ball.  Wilton was a major-leaguer from 1996 to 2004 with four teams, while Julio played in the minors with the Red Sox organization.  He also has two cousins, Gabriel and Gregory, who are currently in the minors.

Guerrero Jr. is one of several sons of former major leaguers currently in the Blue Jays organization. Second baseman Cavan Biggio is the son of Hall of Famer Craig Biggio.  First baseman Kacy Clemens is the son of seven-time Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens, while shortstop Bo Bichette is the son of Dante Bichette, a four-time all-star.

In addition to Biggio, there are several other Hall of Famers with sons or grandsons currently toiling away in the minors or in college. They include Cal Ripken Jr., Ivan Rodriguez, Tom Glavine, Carl Yastrzemski, and Harmon Killebrew.  Then there’s also Mariano Rivera, a sure-fire lock to be elected to the Hall in 2019, with a son currently in the minors.

So, what are the odds of Guerrero Jr. getting into the Hall? The reality is there has never been a father-son player combination in the Hall.  Not even prolific duos like the Griffeys (Ken Sr. and Ken Jr.) and the Alous (Felipe and Moises).  Lee and Larry MacPhail, baseball executives from the 1930s to 1960s, are the only father and son currently in the Hall of Fame.

We’ll have to check back in about 25 years from now to see if the Guerreros are actually the first players. (Although it probably won’t be me doing the checking.)

 

 

The Search for Baseball’s Relatives Continues

Contributed by Richard Cuicchi

Some of you already know one of my special interests in baseball research is identifying all the professional baseball players, managers, coaches, scouts, executives, broadcasters, owners, front office personnel, umpires, and clubhouse staff who have a relative that was also in some capacity in pro baseball. I just completed my annual compilation and have posted the results on my Baseball Relatives website https://baseballrelatives.wordpress.com/family-ties-2017-season/.

The process involved in the compilation activity requires arduous and time-consuming research. But I believe it results in one of the most comprehensive databases of baseball relatives information that I’m aware of.  My sources of information are primarily based on the major league team media guides, Major League Baseball websites, selected baseball magazines, and searches of the internet for current articles in newspapers and posts on blogs and websites.

My entire database now has over 7,400 individuals (all years) representing over 12,000 relationships. That’s more than double the number I had initially identified in my Family Ties book through the 2011 season.  The increase stems from the six additional seasons since the book was published, as well as the inclusion of additional minor league players and major league non-players I have discovered since then.

Some of the more noteworthy relatives from the 2017 season include the following:

  • Jake Boone was drafted out of high school in the 38th round of the 2017 MLB Draft by the Washington Nationals. If he were to eventually make it to the majors, he would become part of the first four-generation family of major leaguers. His family tree includes great-grandfather Ray Boone, grandfather Bob Boone, and father Bret Boone. His uncle, Aaron Boone, was also a major-leaguer.
  • Trei Cruz was drafted out of high school in the 35th round of the draft by the Houston Astros, the team his grandfather (Jose) and father (Jose Jr.) previously played for. Two of his grandfather’s brothers, Hector and Tommy, also played in the majors.
  • Several Hall of Famers have relatives coming up through the ranks. Carl Yastrzemski’s grandson, Mike Yastrzemski, is playing at the Triple-A level in the Baltimore Orioles organization. Harmon Killebrew’s grandsons, Chad and Grant Hockin, are both pitchers in the low minors. Cal Ripken Jr.’s son, Ryan, is a first baseman now playing in the Orioles organization where his father starred. Tom Glavine’s son, Peyton, was drafted by the Los Angeles Angels, but will attend college instead of signing a pro contract.
  • During the recent World Series between the Astros and Dodgers, two sons of former major leaguers were on center stage. Dodgers first baseman, Cody Bellinger, is the son of Clay Bellinger, who played on two World Series teams with the New York Yankees. Astros pitcher Lance McCullers Jr. is the son of Lance McCullers Sr., who pitched for seven seasons in the majors.
  • This season’s Toronto Blue Jays minor league team Dunedin in the Class A Florida State League featured the sons of three former major-league stars. Third baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s father was a 16-year major leaguer, American League MVP in 2004. Shortstop Bo Bichette’s father, Dante Bichette, was a four-time all-star with the Colorado Rockies. Second baseman Cavan Biggio is the son of Hall of Famer Craig Biggio. Additionally, Dunedin outfielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr.’s father was a star player and manager in Cuban professional leagues, while his brother currently plays for the Houston Astros.
  • Kacy Clemens, the son of seven-time Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens, made his professional debut in the Toronto Blue Jays organization this year. He is Clemens’ third son to be drafted by a major-league team. Koby played in the minors and independent leagues for ten seasons. Kody was drafted by the Astros out of high school in 2015 and currently plays at the University of Texas. Note the first names of Clemens’ sons all begin with “K”, the significance being his second-place ranking on the list of all-time strikeout leaders.
  • Luke Farrell, the son of Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell, made his major-league debut as a pitcher with the Kansas City Royals. John later took a day off from the Red Sox during the season in order to watch his son pitch in a big-league game.
  • Satchel McElroy, an outfielder in the Cincinnati Reds organization, is the son of former major-league pitcher Chuck McElroy. He is named after Hall of Famer Satchel Paige, who was a Negro League teammate of his grandfather Sylvester Cooper. Satchel’s brother C. J. is an outfielder in the St. Louis Cardinals organization. The brothers are the nephews of Cecil Cooper, former major-league player and manager.
  • Patrick Valaika is in his second big-league season with the Colorado Rockies. He has three brothers (Matt, Chris, and Nick) who also played professionally, with Chris having also played in the majors from 2010 to 2014.
  • Stephen Drew, who played for the Washington Nationals in 2017, and brothers J.D. and Tim were all former first-round draft picks in the MLB Draft—Stephen (2004), J.D. (1997 and 1998), and Tim (1997).
  • Zach Garrett was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in 2017 and made his pro debut with Aberdeen in the Orioles minor league system. His baseball lineage includes grandfather Jasper Spears, who was an infielder in the Dodgers organization from 1949 to 1959. However, Zach’s more notable family members include NASCAR race drivers who happen to be grandfather Dale Jarrett and father Ned Jarrett.
  • 94-year-old Red Schoendienst still works for the St. Louis Cardinals organization as a special assistant. His major-league career has included time as a player, coach, manager and front office consultant with the Cardinals, starting in 1945. Schoendienst has five brothers who played professionally in the 1940s. His son, Kevin, was also a minor-leaguer for two seasons in the Cubs organization.

I’m always on the hunt for new entries in my Family Ties database. Of course, the newer, up-and-coming players aren’t as hard to find because so much information is now available on the internet.  Finding the older players is more challenging, but every once in a while I’ll discover a new instance, for example, when doing research in old newspapers and magazines for my SABR book projects.  For me, it’s sort of like finding that rare silver dime in a huge pile of coins.

 

Jayson Werth is Fourth-Generation Player in his Family

Washington Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth comes from a family rooted in baseball.  He completed the 15th major-league season of his career, which includes stints with the Toronto Blue Jays, Los Angeles Dodgers, and Philadelphia Phillies in addition to the Nationals.

Jayson comes from a baseball family which includes four generations.  His great-grandfather, John Schofield, was a minor-league shortstop from 1924 to 1938.  His grandfather, Dick “Ducky” Schofield, was a member of the World Champion Pittsburgh Pirates in 1960, and played a total of 19 seasons in the big leagues.  His uncle, Dick Schofield, played 14 seasons in the majors, primarily with the California Angels.

Jayson’s stepfather is Dennis Werth who is married to his mother, Kim Schofield, who competed in the 1976 Olympic trials in track and field.  Dennis played in the majors from 1979 to 1982.

To find out more information about Jayson Werth, follow the link below from the Chicago Tribune:

http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/baseball/cubs/ct-cubs-nationals-playoff-jayson-werth-family-farm-met-20171009-story.html

Lee May Sr., Patriarch of Baseball Family, Dies at 74

Lee May, a three-time major-league all-star, passed away on July 29.  He played for 18 seasons during 1965 to 1982.  He was a member of the famous Cincinnati Reds “Big Red Machine” team in the early 1970s.  May was a career .267 hitter, with 354 home runs and 1,244 RBI.

May has a son, Lee May Jr., who played professional baseball from 1986 to 1993 after being selected in the first round of the 1986 MLB Draft by the New York Mets.  Lee Jr. is currently a coach in the Boston Red Sox farm system.

Lee Sr., is the grandfather of Jacob May, who made his major-league debut with the Chicago White Sox this year.  His brother, Carlos May, was a major-leaguer from 1968 to 1977.

For more information about Lee May Sr.’s career, follow the link below from the Philadelphia Tribune:

http://www.phillytrib.com/obituaries/lee-may-slugging-baseball-player/article_5bb148a1-c0e3-50e3-aebe-f83e137ab5cf.html

Vlad Guerrero Jr. Projected to Join His Father in Major League Ranks

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. was signed as a 17-year-old by the Toronto Blue Jays last year, as one of the top international prospects.  Now he is on a path to eventually join his father, Vladimir Guerrero Sr.,  as a major-leaguer.  At 6-foot-1, 200 pounds, he’s already showing a talent reminiscent of his father’s.

Vlad Jr. was coached by his father and uncle, Wilton Guerrero, who also played in the majors.

To read more about Vlad Guerrero Jr.’s career, follow the link below from thestar.com:

https://www.thestar.com/sports/baseball/2017/06/25/vlad-the-dad-sees-guerrero-jr-ahead-of-him-on-the-learning-curve-griffin.html