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.
Toronto Blue Jays Continue Familial Pattern

The Blue Jays selected Griffin Conine, a hard-hitting outfielder from Duke University who was the second round pick last week.  His father, Jeff Conine, was a two-time all-star in the big leagues during his 17 years, primarily with Florida and Baltimore.  The younger Conine is the latest in the line of the organization’s players to have a relative in professional baseball.

It’s as though the Blue Jays have a specific strategy to select and develop players who have relatives with major-league experience as former players, managers, coaches, and front-office personnel.

Indeed there are some benefits of having such players in the organization.  The value of picking players who are sons of former pro players is that the offspring already have some familiarity with the pro baseball environment.  As youngsters, many of them have been around major-league clubhouses with their fathers.  They already have expectations of what the major-league grind is like and usually come with a strong work ethic instilled in them by their ball-playing fathers.

Of course, the major downside is that the youngsters feel the pressure of living up to their dad’s reputation.  If the son isn’t very good, it doesn’t matter what the name on the back of his jersey is.

The Blue Jays’ major-league and minor-league rosters are chocked full of players with family ties in baseball.

The most prominent of their minor-leaguers with baseball bloodlines play for the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, the Double-A affiliate of the Blue Jays.  They feature the sons of three former MLB all-stars, including two Hall of Famers.

The best of those players is currently one of the hottest hitters in all of the Minor League Baseball. Third baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr., the son of newly elected Hall of Famer Vlad Guerrero Sr., is only 19-years-old but presently has 11 home runs, 55 RBI, and a blazing slash line of .407/.457/.667.  At the rate he is going, he could easily get a call-up to the Blue Jays later this year.

Cavan Biggio, son of Hall of Famer Craig Biggio, plays second base for the Fisher Cats.  After playing collegiately at Notre Dame, he was selected in the fifth round by the Blue Jays in 2016.  He is also a productive hitter with 13 home runs and 44 RBI, boasting an impressive slash line of .306/.432/.662.

Fisher Cats shortstop Bo Bichette is the son of former 1995 National League MVP runner Dante Bichette, who was a four-time all-star with the Colorado Rockies.  The younger Bichette, a second-round pick out of high school in 2016, is currently hitting .278 with four home runs and 26 RBI.

Further down in the Blue Jays’ farm system is another legacy of a baseball legend.  Kacy Clemens, the son of seven-time Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens, is with Single-A Lansing where he plays first base and is batting .301.  If the younger Clemens was to be promoted to the Fisher Cats to join the other three existing sons, they would become an “All in the Family” infield.

A similar situation has actually happened once before in a major-league game, although the players involved were brothers.  Brothers Aaron (second base) and Brett Boone (third base) and brothers Barry (shortstop) and Stephen Larkin (first base) appeared in a game together for the Cincinnati Reds on October 27, 1998.

Elsewhere in the Blue Jays system, there are other instances of family ties, including additional players, coaches, and front-office personnel.

The Blue Jays’ major-league team includes several players with baseball bloodlines.

Outfielder Dwight Smith Jr., has split time between Triple-A Buffalo and Toronto this season, after making his major-league debut with the Blue Jays in 2017.  Smith’s father was an outfielder with four major-league teams during 1989 to 1996.

Infielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr. was promoted to the Blue Jays from Double-A New Hampshire this year.  He is the brother of current Houston Astros first baseman Yuli Gurriel.  Their baseball lineage includes their father, former Cuban star player and manager Lourdes Gurriel Sr.

Toronto outfielder Dalton Pompey’s brother, Tristan, was drafted last week by the Miami Marlins in the third round.  Tristan has previously been drafted by the Blue Jays.

Blue Jays closer Roberto Osuna is the son of Roberto Osuna Sr., who played in the Mexican League.  His cousin, Antonio Osuna, also played in the majors.  Relief pitcher Joe Biagini is the son of Rob Biagini, who played a couple of years in Giants’ farm system.

A couple of other Blue Jays minor-league players with relatives in pro baseball include Brandon Grudzielanek (son of former major-leaguer Mark Grudzielanek) and Tim Lopes (brother of Christian Lopes, currently in the Texas Rangers system)

On the Blue Jays’ major-league coaching staff are Brook Jacoby, Dane Johnson, Luis Rivera, Jason Phillips, and Tim Leiper, all of whom have relatives in pro baseball.  Former major-leaguers Roberto and Sandy Alomar Jr., brothers whose father also played in the majors, are special assistants within the Blue Jays front-office organization.

Could the Blue Jays become the first team in history to field a major-league starting lineup comprised of players each with a relative in pro baseball?  They just might be on a path to do exactly that.

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