The Tenth Inning
 The Tenth Inning Blog
Periodically, I will post new entries about current baseball topics.  The posts will typically be a mixture of commentary, history, facts, and stats.  Hopefully, they will provoke some  of your thoughts or emotions. Clicking on the word "Comments" associated with each post below will open a new dialog box to enter or retrieve any feedback.
No shortage of family ties in abbreviated MLB draft

This year’s MLB amateur draft was significantly different from previous years in that it consisted of only five rounds.  Last year there were 40 rounds, and there have been as many as 60 rounds in some years. The high school and college prospects from which major league clubs make their selections have always included players with baseball in their bloodlines.  Yet even with the reduction in the number of prospects drafted, there was still a good representation of players who have relatives that also played professional baseball. 20 of the 160 (12.5%) players selected last week had baseball as part of their family heritage.

 

By comparison, in 2019 there were a total of 1,217 players drafted in the 40 rounds, of which 65 (5.3%) had family ties. Nine were selected in the first five rounds last year.

 

Often, these prospects seem to have an advantage because of their heritage.  In the scouting process, it’s a plus factor for a player who has been raised in a family that has familiarity with professional baseball.  Of course, having a relative in baseball is no guarantee for success; the player still must have the requisite baseball skills.

 

It seems more and more of the players being drafted are coming from multi-generational baseball families. This year’s draft could wind up having several prospects in that category.

 

Here’s the background on some of the players selected this year.

 

Seven of the first-round picks were the son or brother of a professional baseball player. Included in this elite group was Heston Kjerstad (Orioles), the second overall pick of the draft, whose brother Dexter previously played in the Royals and Marlins organization. Carson Tucker (Indians) is the brother of Cole Tucker, who made his major-league debut last year with the Pirates. They became the ninth set of brothers to each be drafted in the first round. Tyler Soderstrom (A’s) is the son of Steve Soderstrom who pitched one season with the Giants in 1996. They became the 10th father-son duo to be picked in the first round.

 

Jared Jones (Pirates, 2nd round) is the cousin of two former major leaguers, brothers Randy and Ron Flores.

 

The father of LSU’s Cole Henry (Nationals, 2nd round) was drafted twice (1991 and 1993), although he never signed a professional contract.

 

Two draftees were the grandsons of former major-league stars. Trei Cruz (Tigers, 3rd round) is the grandson of Jose Cruz Sr. who played 19 seasons in the majors, primarily with the Astros.  Anthony Servideo (Orioles, 3rd round) is the grandson of Curt Blefary, the American League Rookie of the Year in 1965.

 

In fact, Cruz is a third-generation player.  His father, Jose Cruz Jr., was also a major-leaguer that played for 12 seasons.  Trei’s uncles Tommy and Hector also had major-league appearances. If he were to eventually reach the majors, it would be only the fifth three-generation family in history.

 

Milan Tolentino (Indians, 4th round) is the son of former Astros major leaguer Jose Tolentino. His brother Patric played two seasons in the Indians organization.

 

Draft-eligible players who weren’t selected in the first five rounds will have the option of signing pro contracts as free agents, with a standard $20,000 bonus being offered. Each of these players will be able to negotiate with the teams of their choice. This year’s list of additional eligible players includes names of well-known former major leaguers: Glavine, Boone, Girardi, Grissom, Bevacqua, and Dykstra.  

 

In addition to Joe Girardi (son Dante), several other current major-league managers have relatives who could wind up signing pro contracts, including Dusty Baker (son Darren), Rocco Baldelli (brother Dante), and Joe Maddon (cousin Joe Baran).

 

Jaren Shelby, son of former major-league player and coach John Shelby, could become the fourth son in the family to sign a pro contract.  Their cousin is major leaguer Josh Harrison.

 

Both of Ryan Berardino’s grandfathers had major-league ties.  Dwight Evans was a 20-year player with the Boston Red Sox, while Dick Berardino was a long-time minor-league player, manager, and coach in the Red Sox organization.

 

Jake Boone’s great-grandfather Ray, grandfather Bob, and father Bret all played in the majors. If Jake were to eventually reach the majors, their family would become the first four-generation combination in major-league history.

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