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