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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Bryan Harper Seeks to Join “Little Brother” with the Nats

Bryce Harper will be entering his seventh season with the Washington Nationals in a short career that already includes a Rookie of the Year and MVP awards.  He’s looking to bounce back from an injury-riddled year to lead the Nationals franchise to their first-ever World Series in 2018.

His older brother, 28-year-old Bryan, is in spring training camp this year with the Nationals, and is looking for a spot on the major-league roster as a relief pitcher.  Last year he had a 2.18 ERA in 40 games split across Double-A Harrisburg and Triple-A Syracuse.

For more information about Bryan Harper, follow the links below:

https://www.heraldmailmedia.com/sports/spring-training-becomes-family-affair-to-brothers-harper/article_fd6b11f8-2280-11e8-87d8-4b52c2bc7095.html

https://wtop.com/washington-nationals/2018/03/bryan-harper-looking-to-join-brother-bryce-on-nats-roster/

 

Dante Pettis Will Catch Passes in the NFL — Not Fly Balls in MLB Like His Father

Dante Pettis is the son of former major-league player and current Houston Astros coach Gary Pettis.  But he chose to play football rather than follow in his father’s footsteps in baseball.  He is a wide-receiver from the University of Washington and is projected to be a second or third-round pick in the upcoming NFL Draft.

He grew up playing all the major sports, but by his sophomore season in high school had decided to concentrate on football.  He had his father’s full endorsement in his career decision, which hopefully pay off for him following the draft.

To read more about Dante Pettis, follow the link below from newsday.com:

https://www.newsday.com/sports/football/dante-pettis-son-of-gold-glove-cf-gary-should-catch-on-in-nfl-1.17056097

 

Vlad Guerrero Jr. Pulling for his Dad to get Hall of Fame election

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is making a name for himself as one of the top prospects in all of baseball.  The 18-year-old just finished his second pro season in the Toronto Blue Jays organization, compiling a .323 batting average, 13 home runs, and 76 RBI.

He is the son of Vladimir Guerrero Sr., who is on the Hall of Fame ballot for the second time this year.  In the 2017 voting , he garnered 71.7 % of the votes, and seems to be a sure bet to be inducted in 2018.  Guerrero Sr. played 16 seasons in the majors, primarily with the Montreal Expos and California Angels.  He banged 449 home runs and 1, 496 RBI during his career that spanned 1996 to 2011.

Vlad Jr. authored a piece for the Players Tribune, calling for votes for his father into the Hall.  The link to the article follows:

https://www.theplayerstribune.com/vladimir-guerrero-jr-dad-hall-of-fame/

Luke Farrell Faces His Father’s Team in MLB Game

In the first time they were on the same field together, Cincinnati Reds pitcher Luke Farrell played against his father’s Boston Red Sox team.  John Farrell is the manager of the Red Sox.  It was the first time a son pitched against his father’s team in the majors.

Luke pitched a scoreless inning in the 9th, as Boston won the game, 5-0.

He was selected by the Kansas City Royals in the sixth round of the 2013 MLB Draft.  He had made his major-league debut with the Royals on July 1, but then was purchased by the Los Angeles Dodgers.  The Reds claimed him off waivers on August 9.

John is a former major-league pitcher during 1987 to 1996.  He has managed the Red Sox since 2013 and previously managed the Toronto Blue Jays in 2011 and 2012.

Luke has two brothers in professional baseball.  Jeremy is a minor-league coach in the Cjhicago Cubs organization, while Shane is a scout with the Cubs.

For more information about Luke’s game against his dad, follow the link below:

http://m.redsox.mlb.com/news/article/255755128/luke-farrell-faces-john-farrells-red-sox/

 

Mel Didier’s Passing Recalls Prominence of Louisiana Baseball Family

Contributed by Richard Cuicchi

Mel Didier’s passing on September 11 is a reminder that few baseball families have had as big an impact on a specific area of the country as his family did in South Louisiana.

Didier, whose professional baseball career spanned nearly fifty years, made his mark in baseball as a well-regarded scout and front office executive for several major-league clubs. Named after Mel Ott, he was involved in administrative posts at the start-up of three expansion franchises:  1969 Montreal Expos, 1977 Seattle Mariners, and 1997 Arizona Diamondbacks.  Up until the time of his death, he was a special assistant with the Toronto Blue Jays organization.

Mel’s father, Irby Didier, was the patriarch of the sports family, which included six sons (Pearce, Clyde, Robert, Mel, Raymond, and Gerald) who played, coached, managed, and scouted at various levels of high school, collegiate, and professional baseball. Irby played semi-professionally (for Marksville), as did Pearce (an outfielder with Thibodaux and manager of the Homer Louisiana Oilers) and Clyde (a catcher for the Baton Rouge Red Sticks).

Robert Irby Didier Jr., was a minor-league catcher in 1940 with Greenville in the Cotton States League before going into military service during World War II. He sustained wounds during his service that prevented him from continuing a pro baseball career, although he was later able to participate in semi-pro leagues in the Baton Rouge area.

Gerald Didier, was a second baseman in the Brooklyn Dodgers organization from 1952 to 1954, and then played a season in the Mexican League in 1955. After a season in the South Atlantic League in 1956, he concluded his pro career with Baton Rouge in the Evangeline League in 1957, when he batted a career-high .327.

Raymond Didier played pro baseball with Port Arthur of the Evangeline League in 1940 before becoming the head baseball and football coach at Southwestern Louisiana Institute (now University of Louisiana Lafayette) in the 1950s. From 1957 to 1963, he was the head baseball coach at LSU, claiming an SEC baseball championship in 1961.  Raymond was an assistant coach for the football team during that time period as well.  He then served as the head baseball coach and athletic director at Nicholls State University from 1963 to 1978.  The baseball field at Nicholls State is named in his honor.

Mel’s son, Bob “Hiya” Didier, was a major-league catcher from 1969 to 1974 for the Atlanta Braves, Boston Red Sox, and Detroit Tigers. He was selected by the Braves in the fourth round of the 1967 MLB Draft out of Glenn Oaks (LA) High School and reached the majors with the Braves at age 20.  After his playing career ended in 1976, he got he first job as a minor-league manager in the Braves organization at age 28.  Over his career, he managed in the minors for 15 seasons, including stints at the Triple-A level in the Astros and Blue Jays organizations.  Bob served on the big-league coaching staffs of the Oakland A’s (1984-1986) and Seattle Mariners (1989-1990), as well as scouted in the New York Yankees and Chicago Cubs organizations.

Beau Didier, son of Bob Didier and the family’s fourth-generation ballplayer, was selected by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 40th round of the 2008 MLB Draft, out of Bellarmine High School in Tacoma, Washington.  However, the catcher/infielder committed to LSU, where he lettered in three seasons (2010-2012).

Mel earned letters in football (1944-1945) and baseball (1947) at LSU before beginning his professional baseball career as a player in 1948 and 1949. However, he soon turned to coaching at the high school level, where his 1953 Baton Rouge Catholic High team captured their first state championship baseball title.  That team, which Didier dubbed “one of the greatest high school teams in American history,” featured four players who went on to sign pro contracts and seven who accepted college scholarships to play baseball.

He served as a scout in the Detroit Tigers, Milwaukee Braves, Atlanta Braves, Los Angeles Dodgers, Cleveland Indians, and Baltimore Orioles organizations. He was involved in player development roles for the Montreal Expos, Seattle Mariners, and Arizona Diamondbacks organizations, as these franchises were getting off the ground.  Some of the major-league players whose careers he influenced included Hall of Famers Andre Dawson, Gary Carter, Mike Piazza, and Eddie Murray.

At the college level, Didier was the LSU freshman team football coach in 1967 and 1968, head baseball coach at the University of Southwestern Louisiana (now ULL) in 1981-1982, and athletic director at USL in 1982.

Mel received the “Legends in Scouting” Award in 2009, presented by the Professional Baseball Scouts Foundation. He authored “Podnuh, Let Me Tell You a Story,” a book about his baseball life.

Mel died at age 90 in Phoenix, Arizona.

Kacy Clemens Makes Strides Toward Major League Career

Kacy Clemens, the son of former major-league pitcher Roger Clemens, completed his first minor-league season with Class A Vancouver in the Toronto Blue Jays system.  The first baseman managed to hit .274 with 4 home runs and 45 RBI.  He had been selected in the eighth round of the 2017 MLB Draft after playing four seasons at the University of Texas.

The Blue Jays farm system features several other sons of famous major-league players, including second baseman Cavan Biggio (son of Craig), shortstop Bo Bichette (son of Dante), and third baseman Valadimir Guerrero Jr. (son of Vladimir Sr.).  The younger Clemens hopes one day to join these players as the starting infield with the big-league Blue Jays.

To read more about Kacy Clemens, follow the link below from the The Globe and Mail:

https://beta.theglobeandmail.com/sports/baseball/kacy-clemens-son-of-roger-swings-for-the-majors/article36166842/?ref=http://www.theglobeandmail.com&