Family Ties Prominent Again in this Year’s MLB Draft

Contributed by Richard Cuicchi

In the MLB Draft in June each year, there are typically a number of drafted amateur players who have a relative in professional baseball. 38 players fit this criteria in 2017.  They represent the latest crop of relatives that are expected to infuse baseball rosters with players who have baseball in their blood lines.

The first occurrences of baseball brothers date back to the sport’s professional beginnings in the 1870s. The first son of a former major-leaguer made his big-league debut in 1903.

Each year there are typically a number of drafted players with intriguing backgrounds that involve family relationships. This year is no exception.  Here’s a review of some of the highlights of this year’s players with family ties in baseball.

Professional baseball is experiencing more and more players with multiple generations in their bloodlines. In the long history of Major League Baseball, there have been only four occurrences of three-generation families.  Several grandsons of major-league ballplayers top the list of players drafted this year and thus offer new opportunities to expand the “three generation” club and possibly initiate a “four generation” list.

Jake Boone, the son of former major-leaguer Bret Boone, was drafted in the 38th round by the Washington Nationals.  If Jake were to eventually reach the major-leagues, he would represent the fourth generation of Boones to play in the big-leagues, the first time that will have ever occurred.  Bret was a three-time All-Star during his 14-year MLB career.  Jake’s grandfather, Bob, was a four-time All-Star during his 19 years, while Jake’s great-grandfather, Ray, made the All-Star team twice during his 13-year career.  Jake’s uncle, Aaron was an infielder in the majors from 1997 to 2009.

Trei Cruz was selected in the 35th round by the Houston Astros, his grandfather Jose Cruz’s old team.  Trei is a third-generation player, since his father, Jose Cruz Jr., was also a major-leaguer.  Trei’s two great-uncles, Tommy and Hector, were former major-leaguers, as well.

Justin Morhardt is the grandson of Moe Morhardt, a major leaguer with the Chicago Cubs in 1960 and 1961.  Justin’s father, Greg, played in the minors and is currently a scout in the Atlanta Braves organization.  Justin was drafted by Braves in the 22nd round.

Riley O’Brien is the grandson of Johnny O’Brien.  Johnny and his brother Eddie made history in the 1950s by becoming only one of nine sets of twin brother to ever play in the majors. They formed the double-play combo for the 1953 Pittsburgh Pirates.  A pitcher from the College of Idaho, Riley was the 8th round pick of the Tampa Bay Rays.

Buddy Kennedy is the grandson of Don Money, who played third base with the Philadelphia Phillies and Milwaukee Brewers from 1968 to 1993.  Buddy, also a third baseman, was drafted out of high school in the 5th round by the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Multiple-brother families in the game continue to flourish, as well. The record for most major-league brothers are the Delahantys, who numbered five (Ed, Jim, Tom, Frank, and Joe) in the late 1880s and early 1900s.  Three Alou brothers (Felipe, Matty and Jesus) made history by playing in the same game for the San Francisco Giants in 1963.  Here are a few newly drafted brothers from last week’s draft.

Nick Valaika is the fourth brother in his family to be drafted by a major-league team.  Brothers Chris and Pat have previously reached the major-league level, while Matt played one season in the minors.  Nick was drafted out of UCLA in the 24th round by the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Kacy Clemens is the third brother in his family to be drafted.  Kacy, Koby and Kody are the sons of seven-time Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens.  Kacy most recently played for the University of Texas and was selected by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 8th round.  Brother Koby played in the minors for eight seasons, while Kody (drafted in 2015) is currently at the University of Texas.

Cole Bellinger is the second son of Clay Bellinger to be drafted.  Cole’s brother, Cody, is currently a hard-hitting rookie with the Los Angeles Dodgers.  Cole was selected by the San Diego Padres in the 15th round.  Father Clay played on two World Series teams with the New York Yankees in 2000 and 2001.

Jordan Wren is the second son of Boston Red Sox executive Frank Wren to be drafted.  The outfielder was selected out of Georgia Southern University by the Red Sox in the 10th round.  Jordan’s brother, Kyle, is currently playing at the Triple-A level for the Milwaukee Brewers.

Other drafted players whose kin have very familiar names include the following.

Darren Baker, the son of Washington Nationals manager Dusty Baker, was drafted out of high school by the Nationals in the 27th round.  Darren made the sports news headlines during the 2002 World Series when, as a batboy for his father’s San Francisco Giants team, he was swept up at home plate (as he was attempting to retrieve a bat) by Giants player J. T. Snow to avoid a collision at home plate with a Giants runner coming into score.

Peyton Glavine is the son of Hall of Fame pitcher Tom Glavine, who played 22 years in the majors and won two Cy Young Awards.  Peyton was drafted out of high school by the Los Angeles Angels in the 37th round.  If he doesn’t sign, he will likely attend the University of Auburn next year where he had previously committed to play.

Joe Dunand, a shortstop from North Carolina State University, was drafted in the second round by the Miami Marlins.  He is the nephew of former major-leaguer Alex Rodriguez, who hit 696 career home runs and claimed three American League MVP Awards.

Every year there are usually a handful of noteworthy major-league draftees whose bloodlines don’t include a baseball background.

This year’s list includes outfielder Zach Jarrett.  If that last name sounds familiar, yes, he is from the NASCAR racing family of Jarretts.  Zach, the son of Ned and grandson of Dale, was the 28th round pick of the Baltimore Orioles.  However, Zach has some baseball in his bloodlines, too, since his other grandfather, Jasper Spears, played in the Dodgers organization from 1949 to 1959.

LSU shortstop Kramer Robertson is the son of Kim Mulkey, the highly successful women’s basketball coach at Baylor University.  Robertson was selected in the 4th round by the St. Louis Cardinals

Several current NFL players had relatives drafted by major-league teams this year. Jake Cousins, 20th round pick of the Washington Nationals, is the cousin of Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins. Colby Bortles, the 22nd round pick of the Detroit Tigers, is the brother of Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles. Demetrius Sims, the 14th round pick of the Miami Marlins, is the brother of Chicago Bears tight end Dion Sims.

Riley Crean is the son of former Indiana University basketball coach Tom Crean.  Riley is also the nephew of Jim Harbaugh, the head football coach at the University of Michigan, and John Harbaugh, the head coach for the NFL Baltimore Ravens.  Riley was drafted out of high school by the Chicago White Sox in the 35th round.

A full list of the players from the 2017 MLB Draft with relatives in professional baseball can be viewed at the Baseball’s Relatives website .

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Family Ties Flourishing in Baseball – Boston Red Sox

Contributed by Richard Cuicchi

This is the third of a series of reviews that will take a look at family relationships in each of the thirty major league organizations.

Baseball has more family relationships than any other professional sport. They existed in the earliest days of the sport in the 1870s, and they are abundant in today’s game, perhaps more so than ever before.  Baseball has been called a “generational” sport for several reasons.  One of them is that multiple generations of families have been active in the game–grandfathers, fathers, sons, and brothers.  And now even some great-grandsons are starting to show up on rosters.  Uncles, nephews, cousins and in-laws are part of the extended family of baseball relatives, too.

Baseball bloodlines aren’t limited to just the players. Family trees with a baseball background have commonly included managers, coaches, scouts, owners, executives, front office personnel, umpires, and broadcasters, as well.

Red Sox history is filled with examples of players and non-players that had relatives in baseball. Some of the more noteworthy ones include:

Ken Brett had just turned 19 years old when he made two appearances in the 1967 World Series with the Red Sox.  He went on to pitch for the Red Sox in three more seasons as part of his 14-year career that ended in 1981.  Ken’s brother, George, was a Hall of Fame third baseman for the Kansas City Royals that led the American League in hitting in three different decades.  Ken had two other brothers, John and Robert, who played only one season in the minors.

Roger Clemens won 192 games and three Cy Young Awards in his 13-seasons with the Red Sox.  Over his 24-year career, he won a total of 354 games and is currently 3rd all-time in strikeouts.  Altogether he garnered seven Cy Young Awards during his career.  Roger had three sons involved in baseball.  Koby played in the minors for eight seasons in the Houston Astros and Toronto Blue Jays organizations.  His sons, Kacy and Kody, were drafted out of high school by the Astros, but both opted to attend the University of Texas where they are currently playing baseball.

Dom DiMaggio is part of one of the most famous trio of baseball brothers in history.  His brother, Joe, a Hall of Famer player with the New York Yankees from 1936 to 1951, was a 13-time All-Star and winner of the American League MVP Award three times.  Dom’s brother, Vince, was a two-time All-Star during his ten major-league seasons.  Dom played for the Red Sox during 1940 – 1953, when he was selected to All-Star teams in seven seasons. All three brothers played in the outfield.

Dave Sisler pitched in four seasons for the Red Sox in the 1950s.  He is the son of Hall of Fame player George Sisler Sr. who twice hit over .400 en route to a .340 career batting average.  Dave’s brother, Dick, was a member of the 1950 Philadelphia Phillies “Whiz Kids” that won the 1950 National League pennant.  The first baseman logged eight seasons with the Phillies, St. Louis Cardinals and Cincinnati Reds.  A third Sisler brother, George Jr., played four minor-league seasons before becoming a general manager for several minor-league clubs and then president of the International League from 1966 to 1976.

Fast forwarding to more recent times, here are some highlights of baseball relatives in the Boston Red Sox organization during 2016.

Mookie Betts has emerged as one of the Red Sox’s brightest stars, finishing second in the American League MVP voting last year, only his second full season. He hit 31 HR and 113 RBI while posting a .318 batting average and 26 stolen bases.  He is the nephew of Terry Shumpert, a 14-year veteran infielder who primarily played for the Kansas City Royals and Colorado Rockies.  Terry had a career .252 batting average.  Mookie’s cousin is Nicholas Shumpert, the 28th round pick of the Atlanta Braves in 2016.  Nicholas played his first pro season at the rookie league level last season.

Xander Bogaerts is another young star that came up through the Red Sox farm system and ranks among the best shortstops in the game.  In an all-star season last year, he had career-highs with 21 HR and 89 RBI while batting .294.  His twin brother, Jair, played two seasons in the Dominican Summer League for the Red Sox organization in 2010 and 2011.  There have been only eight sets of twins where both brothers played in the major leagues.

Craig Kimbrel came to the Red Sox last year after five seasons with the Atlanta Braves and one with the San Diego Padres.  In four of his years with the Braves, he led the National League in saves.  Overall, he has posted 14.5 strikeouts per nine innings and a WHIP of 0.949.  Craig’s brother, Matt, was drafted by the Braves in 2012, and he spent three seasons at low levels in the Braves farm system

Drew Pomeranz joined the Red Sox staff in July last year after earning an all-star selection with the San Diego Padres during the first half of the season.  He has pitched for six seasons that included stints with the Colorado Rockies and Oakland A’s.  Drew’s brother, Stu, had a brief appearance in the majors with Baltimore in 2012. Their great-grandfather was Garland Buckeye, a major-league pitcher during 1918 – 1928, primarily with the Cleveland Indians.  Buckeye compiled a 30-39 record.  Their father, Mike, was a minor-league pitcher from 1988 to 1992, after being selected by the Minnesota Twins in the 13th round of the 1988 MLB Draft.  Their uncle, Patrick, played one season in the Chicago White Sox organization in 1983.

Rick Porcello earned the American League Cy Young Award last year, in his second season with the Red Sox and eighth overall year in the majors.  The 27-year-old posted a career best 22-4 record and 3.15 ERA.  Rick’s grandfather was Sam Dente, a major-league infielder from 1948 to 1955.  Dente posted a career .252 batting average for five teams.  Rick’s brother, Jake, was a late-round draft pick of the Detroit Tigers in 2009, but did not sign.

Travis Shaw became the starting third baseman for the Red Sox in his second season with them.  He hit 16 HR and 71 RBI to along with a .242 batting average.  His father is Jeff Shaw, who spent 12 seasons in the big leagues as a relief pitcher and earned two all-star selections.  Travis was traded by the Red Sox to the Milwaukee Brewers over the winter.

Other Red Sox major leaguers in 2016 that had relatives in pro baseball include: Deven Marrero, whose cousin Chris Marrero also plays in the Red Sox organization; Sean O’Sullivan whose brother Ryan O’Sullivan played in the independent leagues; Robbie Ross whose father Chuck Ross pitched in the Red Sox organization in the 1970s; Joe Kelly, son-in-law of former major leaguer Derek Parks; and Pablo Sandoval whose brother Michael played in the Twins and Giants organizations during 1999 – 2010.

The Red Sox pipeline of baseball relatives includes several top minor league prospects whose relatives were former major-league players: Jake Cosart, Boston’s third-round pick in 2013, is the brother of current major leaguer Jarred Cosart and grandson of Ed Donnelly, who pitched briefly for the Chicago Cubs in 1963; Teddy Stankiewicz, a second round pick of the Red Sox in 2013, is the son of former major leaguer Andy Stankiewicz, while his brother Drew was in the Philadelphia Phillies organization last year; Yomar Valentin is the son of former major leaguer Jose Valentin and nephew of former major leaguer Javier Valentin; Tate Matheny, a fourth round pick of the Red Sox in 2015, is the son of current St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny.

The 2016 Red Sox had their share of baseball relatives in the dugout, too. Manager John Farrell is the father of three sons who have been in pro baseball.  Luke Farrell is currently a pitcher in the Kansas City Royals organization.  Jeremy Farrell is a minor-league coach in the Chicago Cubs organization, while Shane Farrell is a scout with the Cubs.  John’s father, Thomas, was also a minor-league pitcher for the Cleveland Indians in the 1950s.

Bench coach Torey Lovullo is the father of Nick Lovullo who made his pro debut in the Red Sox organization in 2016.  Torey was named the new manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks over the winter.  First base coach Ruben Amaro Jr. is the son of Ruben Amaro Sr., former major league infielder who primarily appeared with the Philadelphia Phillies in the 1960s.  Ruben Jr.’s brother, David, played one minor-league season with the Cubs in 1984.  Two of his nephews were drafted by the Phillies.  Third base coach Brian Butterfield is the son of Jack Butterfield, who was an executive and scout with the New York Yankees.  Assistant hitting coach Victor Rodriguez, Sr. is the father of Miguel and Victor who were both drafted by the Red Sox.  Victor Jr. is currently a scout in the Tampa Bay Rays organization.  Victor Sr.’s brother, Ahmed, played four minor-league seasons in the Cardinals organization.

In the Red Sox front office, Frank Wren is the senior vice-president of baseball operations.  His son, Kyle, played at the Triple-A level in the Milwaukee Brewers organization last year.  His son, Jordan, was drafted by the Red Sox in the 36th round, but did not sign. Carl Yastrzemski, one of the all-time Red Sox great players, is currently a player development consultant with the team.  His grandson, Mike, played outfield at the Triple-A level in the Baltimore Orioles organization last year.  Carl’s son, Mike, was also a minor-league outfielder in the mid-1980s.

Lee May Jr. is a minor-league coach in the Red Sox organization.  Like Yastrzemski, he is part of a three-generation baseball family.  His father, Lee May Sr., was a three-time all-star first baseman during 18 major-league seasons, primarily with the Cincinnati Reds and Baltimore Orioles.  Lee Jr.’s son, Jacob, is currently an outfielder in the Chicago White Sox organization playing at the Triple-A level.

 

Baseball’s Relatives Website

The entire list of 2016 active major and minor league players and non-players can be retrieved at:

https://baseballrelatives.wordpress.com/2016-family-ties/