Jack Leiter chooses collegiate path to the big leagues

Jack Leiter was drafted out of high school in the 20th round by the New York Yankees in the 2019 MLB Draft. However, he bypassed signing a contract and chose to attend Vanderbilt University to play baseball.

Jack’s father, Al Leiter, was similarly drafted out of high school by the Yankees in 1984, except he was a second-round selection that inked a contract as an 18-year-old. The elder Leiter went on to log 19 major-league seasons with the Yankees, Blue Jays, Mets, and Marlins. He finished with a 162-132 record and 3.80 ERA, winning World Series title with the Blue Jays and Marlins.

Jack’s collegiate debut with Vandy this season included five no-hit innings with a dozen strikeouts. Not a bad start!

Jack’s uncle Mark Leiter and cousin Mark Leiter Jr. have both appeared in the majors.

To read more about Jack and Al Leiter clicks on these links: Vandy debut and Like Father, Like Son

Luis Rojas adds to family's baseball heritage

Luis Rojas was recently named the manager of the New York Mets, filling the vacancy created when Carlos Beltran stepped down as manager for his involvement in the Houston Astros sign-stealing scandal.

Rojas is the son of Felipe Alou, a long-time major-league player and manager. They become only the sixth set of father-son combos to manage at the major-league level. The others include Buddy and David Bell, Bob and Aaron Boone, Bob and Joel Skinner, George and Dick Sisler, and Connie and Earle Mack.

Rojas is also the brother of Moises Alou, who was a major-leaguer from 1990-2008.

Rojas’s uncles include Matty Alou and Jesus Alou, who also played during the same timeframe as brother Felipe.

Read more about Rojas’s new managerial job and family background at the below links:

https://nypost.com/2020/01/25/mets-luis-rojas-earning-place-in-family-dynasty-had-to-be-a-manager/

https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/mlb/2020/01/24/new-mets-manager-luis-rojas-thanks-famous-father-brother/41060079/

https://nypost.com/2020/01/22/who-is-luis-rojas-new-mets-manager-is-rising-star-with-baseball-in-his-blood/

https://nypost.com/2020/01/22/felipe-alou-my-son-luis-rojas-is-ready-and-wont-cheat-the-game/

https://nypost.com/2020/01/22/mets-hiring-luis-rojas-gets-seal-of-approval-from-bruce-bochy/

Gavin Lux nephew of former Golden Spikes Award winner

Gavin Lux was named by Baseball America the Minor League Player of the Year. He received a call-up to the Los Angeles Dodgers in September and hit a home run in his major-league debut game. He was put on the Dodgers post-season roster and appeared in several games.

Lux is the nephew of Augie Schmidt, the Golden Spikes Award winner in 1982, playing for the University of New Orleans. Schmidt played in the minors for five seasons, reaching Triple-A in the Blue Jays organization.

Lux’s grandfather, August Schmidt, played two seasons in the minors in the Red Sox organization in 1956-57.

Click here to read more about Gavin Lux.

Ronald Acuna Jr. has extended baseball family

Atlanta Braves sensation Ronald Acuna Jr. knows baseball. He also knows family, especially his baseball family, which is one of the most extensive in professional baseball.  Ronald got to see most of them play in the Venezuelan Winter League while he was growing up.

He is the son of Ronald Acuna Sr., who played in the minors from 1999 to 2006.  His grandfather, Romualdo Blanco, also played in the minors from 1971 to 1977.

Four members of the Escobar family who played in the majors are related to Ronald Jr.:  Alcides, Kelvim, and Edwin are cousins, while Jose is his uncle.  Major-leaguer Vicente Campos is also a cousin.

Click here to read more about Ronald Acuna Jr. and his family from yahoo.com.

Ronald Acuna Jr.’s family steep in baseball bloodlines

Atlanta Braves all-star outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. is one of the main reasons for the Braves’ success last year and this season. He was the National League Rookie of the Year last season with a slash line of .293/.366/.552, to go along with 26 HRs and 64 RBIs in 111 games.

Both of his parents are related to current and former professional baseball players.

His father, Ronald Sr., played in eight minor-league seasons, primarily with the Mets organization.

He is the cousin of major-leaguers Vicente Campos, Alcides Escobar, Edwin Escobar, and Kelvim Escobar and the nephew of former major-leaguer Jose Escobar.

Ronald Jr.’s grandfather played in various international leagues.

To read more about Ronald Acuna Jr., click on the link below from Heavy.com: https://heavy.com/sports/2019/07/ronald-acuna-nationality-where-from-dad-family/

Luke Bell carries on the family tradition

Luke Bell was drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 34th round of the 2019 MLB Draft. He happens to be the son of Mike Bell, who is the vice president of player development for the Diamondbacks.

Besides their father-son relationship, the bloodlines run even deeper in the Bell family. Luke’s grandfather, Buddy Bell, was a major-league player and manager for over 25 years. His great-grandfather, Gus, Bell, was a major league player for 15 years in the 1950s and early 1960s. Luke’s father played only one major-league season in 2000. His uncle, David, is currently manager of the Cincinnati Reds and also played in the majors for 12 seasons.

If Luke were to eventually make the majors, the Bell family would become the first to have four generations play in the MLB.

To read more about Luke Bell, click on the link below from Cronkite News: https://cronkitenews.azpbs.org/2019/07/09/luke-bell-diamondbacks-draft/

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