Contributed by Richard Cuicchi
I’ve used this blog in the past to publicize the prevalence of major-league players with family ties in the sport. Within the last two weeks that situation has never been more evident, and it has included some of baseball’s biggest names.
The promotion to the big leagues of a young player who has
relatives in the game brings up the age-old debate of whether the player has
benefitted from having good genes or being the product of a baseball
environment in which they grew up. In my
book Family Ties: A Comprehensive
Collection of Facts and Trivia About Baseball’s Relatives, I quoted Phil
Pote, a scout for the Seattle Mariners, who probably summed up the situation
the best, “I think genes give the potential and the environment sets how close
to the potential you might reach. A kid
could be in Afghanistan and have great genes; I mean great quickness, the
hand-eye coordination, balance, and agility, whatever. But if he doesn’t have the environment no one
would ever know, including him.”
Several of the players from strong baseball backgrounds involving
multiple family relationships recently received big-league promotions.
made his major-league debut on May 25 for the San Francisco Giants. The outfielder is the third generation of his
family in the sport. His grandfather,
Carl, is one of the most recognizable names in Boston Red Sox history and was
elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame after 23 major-league
seasons. Mike’s father, also named Mike,
played five seasons in the minors, reaching the Triple-A level in the Chicago
White Sox organization.
Cavan Biggio made
his debut on May 24 for the Toronto Blue Jays.
He made history when he and Blue Jays teammate Vlad Guerrero Jr. became
the first pair of major-league teammates to have fathers in the Hall of
Fame. The second baseman recorded his
first big-league home run in his third major-league game. Cavan’s father, Craig, was a seven-time
all-star in his 20 seasons for Houston Astros.
He collected over 3,000 hits and 600 doubles during his career. Cavan’s brother, Conor, was selected by the
Houston Astros in the 34th round of the 2015 MLB Draft, but did not
Arizona Diamondback first baseman Kevin Cron made his debut on May 24. He had 21 home runs and 62 RBI in the minors
this season before his call-up. Kevin’s
father, Chris, played briefly in the majors in 1991 and 1992 for the California
Angels and Chicago White Sox. Chris is
in his 20th season as a minor-league manager and was managing Kevin
with the Reno Aces at the time of his call-up.
Kevin’s brother, C. J., is currently a major-leaguer with the Minnesota
Twins. Kevin is in his sixth big-league
season after being a first-round draft selection of the Los Angeles Angels.
In only his third pro season, pitcher Zach Plesac made his major-league debut with the Cleveland Indians
on May 28. Zach is the nephew of former
major-league pitcher Dan Plesac, who played 18 seasons for six different
clubs. Zach’s father, Joe, played six
seasons in the San Diego Padres organization following his second-round draft
selection in 1982.
Two other recent big-league promotions involved players with
brothers in pro baseball.
On May 24, Canadian-born Josh Naylor made his debut with the San Diego Padres. He was the first-round pick of the Florida
Marlins in 2015. He is the brother of Bo Naylor, who was the first-round pick
of the Cleveland Indians last year.
Mitch Keller made
his debut with the Pittsburgh Pirates on May 27. He struck out seven batters in four innings
pitched, but took the loss against the Cincinnati Reds. He is the brother of Jon Keller, who pitched
for five seasons the Baltimore Orioles minor-league system.
Earlier this year, Vlad
Guerrero Jr. had the most anticipated major-league debut since Bryce
Harper. Guerrero had been the Minor
League Player of the Year in 2018 as a 19-year-old. He got his promotion on April 26 with the
Toronto Blue Jays and has since showed his potential with six home runs. Guerrero Jr. is the son of recently elected
Hall of Famer Vladimir Guerrero Sr., the nephew of former major-leaguer Wilton
Guerrero, and the cousin of 2018 major-leaguer Gabriel Guerrero.
Other players with family ties who made their MLB debuts
earlier this season include:
Fernando Tatis Jr.,
shortstop with the San Diego Padres, is the son of 11-year veteran Fernando
Tatis Sr., who hit 34 HRs and 107 RBIs in 1999.
Cal Quantrill, pitcher
with the San Diego Padres, is the son of former major-league pitcher Paul
Quantrill, a 14-year veteran who led the American League in appearances for
four consecutive years
infielder with the Colorado Rockies, made his debut in a game in which his
cousin, all-star third baseman Nolan Arenado, also played.
shortstop with the Washington Nationals, is the brother of major-league Spencer
Kieboom, who also plays in the Nationals system.
pitcher with the Kansas City Royals, is the brother of major-leaguer Bradley
Zimmer, who made his MLB debut in 2017.
Nate Lowe, first
baseman with the Tampa Bay Rays, is the brother of minor-leaguer Josh Lowe, who
also plays in the Rays organization and projects to be a future major-leaguer.
The Toronto Blue Jays have a potentially interesting situation
developing in their organization.
Already with three players with family ties on their big-league roster (Guerrero
Jr., Biggio, and Lourdes Gurriel Jr.), the Blue Jays also have Bo Bichette at
the Triple-A level in their minor league system. Bichette is the son of Dante Bichette, former
four-time all-star and 1995 National League MVP runner-up. When the younger Bichette is called up, the
foursome will form a complete Blue Jays infield of players with baseball