Carrying on the legacy of one’s father can be an inspired and sometimes daunting task. In baseball, bloodlines have always proven helpful in procurring an opportunity to play professionally. While the sons of ex-major leaguers may grab a scouts attention more easily than most, they also have the burden of living up to a very high standard of success. In the end, every ballplayer will be judged on the fruits of his own labor. A last name might get you to A-ball, but no major league team is going to give you a job just because your last name is Rose, Clemens, or Griffey.
Here is a list of the children of present and ex-major leaguers playing minor league ball today. I’ve also included the sons of major league general managers (GM) and a couple of other interesting kin that you should know about.
By clicking on a son’s name you can see where he is playing and follow along statistically as the 2006 season progresses. By clicking on a father’s name you can see his career statistics.
The children’s ages are in ( ) next to their names. The minor league level they are playing at currently is in ( ) next to the major league team they are affiliated with. There is a key at the bottom of this page that explains the minor league levels’ abbreviations if you are unfamiliar with them. If you are aware of a player I have missed, you can e-mail me here at Inside Pitch at email@example.com and I will add him to the list.
*This is the original research of sports writer and researcher Carl Shimkin (the author of this blog)
Son Org/Level Father
A Cup Of Coffee
Been Around The Block
Too Early To Tell
Just Drafted (2006)
2B Kurt Bradley (18) Dodgers (33rd Rd.) Phil Bradley
OF Trent Henderson (18) Astros (37th Rd.) Dave Henderson
OF Riley Etchebarren (18) Diamondbacks (39th Rd.) Andy Etchebarren
2B David Cash III (18) Orioles (40th Rd.) Dave Cash
OF Candy Maldonado (18) Devil Rays (46th Rd.) Candy Maldonado
2B Kyle Williams (17) White Sox (47th Rd.) Kenny Williams
SS Jonathan Fernandez (18) Blue Jays (48th Rd.) Tony Fernandez
Two’s A Charm
P Brett Bannister (23) Mariners (R-AZL)
C Dusty Wathan (32) Phillies (AAA)
OF Scott Van Slyke (19) Dodgers (R-GCL)
1B Shelley Duncan (26) Yankees (AA)
SS Josh Lansford (22) Cubs (A-SS)
Dad’s Got Connections
(Sons of Former and Present GM)
South Of The Border
On The Air
(Grandson of Hall of Fame Baseball Announcer)
(Nephew of Hall of Fame Boxer)
Happy As A Clown
(Grandson of Bob Bell aka Bozo The Clown)
Minor Leagues’ Abbreviation Key
AAA Triple A-ball
AA Double A-ball
A-ADV Single A-ball (advanced)
A Single A-ball
A-SS Single A-ball (short season)
R Rookie League
GCL Gulf Coast League
AZL Arizona League
ML Spent time in the Major Leagues this season
*Mexican League is not affiliated with any specific Major League team
**A Sandwich Pick in the draft is a compensatory pick between the 1st & 2nd rounds.
Carl the Cabbie
In 1951 Bill Veeck, the St. Louis Browns’ owner, employed 3’7" small-man Eddie "Carl" Gaedel for one game. It
was maybe the most famous of his many promotions to increase sagging attendence for the dreadful St. Louis Browns. Gaedel had one plate appearance, which resulted predictably with him drawing a Walk.
Today we have the anti-Gaedel and he is anything but a sideshow. If you take Gaedel and multiply him by two minus three inches, you get 7’1" pitcher Ryan Doherty of the Defending Midwest League Champions- The South Bend Silver Hawks (A-Ball). The 22-year old right-hander spent three years at Notre Dame University where he chose to pursue his baseball dream after eschewing basketball scholarships from Duke, Stanford and
Princeton. In an interview with ESPN Magazine Doherty explained his decision to play baseball over basketball, "I started to fall in love with baseball right around the time Randy Johnson was making a name for himself with the Mariners… I had a hero for life. I think I might have had a decent future in basketball, but my height in baseball makes me a real oddity." Oddity is an understatement,
downright disorienting is more like it. Add in the ten-inch height of the pitchers mound, and hitters are approximately dealing with an eight-footer slinging 90-mph heat and a curve ball that seemingly drops out of the sky.
Doherty began his professional baseball career a year ago and is one of the top relievers in the Silver Hawks’ vaunted bullpen, where he is presently 3-0 with a 3.32 ERA. With the Diamondbacks’ top prospect Justin Upton as a teammate, the Silver Hawks should do much better attendence-wise than the St. Louis Browns could have ever hoped to do. While Pitcher Jon Rauch (6’11") of the Washington Nationals is the tallest man ever to play in the major leagues, it is believed that Doherty is the tallest man ever to play professional baseball.
The Mets’ 2005 first-round stud, Mike Pelfrey, has been promoted to Double-A Binghamton or as GM Omar Minaya said, "He moved himself up…With the way he’s pitched velocity-wise, command-wise and strikeout-to-walk ratio, he basically moved himself up." Pelfrey was 2-1 with a 1.64 ERA for Single-A St. Lucie this April.
Mets’ fans wait with bated breath for young studs Mike Pelfrey and Phillip Humber to arrive on the scene, there’s another youthful gun who has a lot more to do with the Mets immediate future than the two aformentioned fireballers. He is the offspring of former Major League Baseball pitcher (the #1 overall pick of the 1976 draft) Floyd Bannister. Should anything bad happen to any members of the Mets’ aged and fragile quintet this spring, then 25-year old Brian Bannister would find himself on center stage at Shea. Bannister is the Mets’ next best option. He’s their Bobby Jones (famous 76ers’ bench player in the 1970’s), their Ramiro Mendoza, their ‘sixth man’.
Brian was taken in the 7th round of the 2003 draft after a successful career as a USC Trojan. He has steadily improved each year and was the Mets’ most successful starter in the minors last season- posting an impressive 13-5 record with a 2.74 ERA while splitting time between AA (Binghamton) and AAA (Norfolk). Bannister’s repertoire will not kindle any memories of Dwight Gooden or Ron Darling or Jason Isringhausen. No, this Mets’ prospect is not a flamethrower. When talking about him, scouts are more likely to evoke names like Paul Byrd, Jon Lieber and even Greg Maddux. Bannister is all about command and control. He features four pitches, none topping out at more than 90 mph. Pitching coach Rick Peterson’s face was aglow early this spring when talking about Bannister, "He has four pitches that he can locate to both sides of the plate, and that’s exciting." His best pitch is his cut-fastball which breaks
late like a slider and hits between 84-86 on the gun. He uses a four-seam fastball (between 88-90 mph) with precision to get ahead of hitters. His curve breaks 12 to 6, but has a tendency to hang.
Peterson believes the key to his great success this spring has been the development of a changeup that barely breaks 80 mph. "I think he understands that young pitchers who settle into the big
leagues quickly settle in not because they’re fastball-curveball
[pitchers], but because they’re fastball-changeup." Though Bannister will almost definitely begin the year at AAA, the Mets are very confident in their sixth man’s ability to step into the spotlight should he be needed.
Yep, it’s true! Yesterday, during Astros’ batting practice, Poppa Clemens buzzed his own son- almost put him on his you know what. On the pitch before the brushback, Koby leaned into a very friendly fastball and with a flick of the wrist lifted it high over the leftfield wall. Then, as a sign of ultimate respect, the Rocket orchestrated some chin-music, knocking his son off the plate. The few fans and media in attendance broke into laughter. When asked what he had said after receiving his father’s calling card, Koby laughed,
"I said, ‘I hit the ball good, hit it out of the ballpark, and the next pitch is up and in, what’s the deal? We were joking with it. We just jab at each other once in a while."
"That was probably one of the harder fastballs I cut loose," the elder Clemens said. "He got my attention. I wish he was around for Round 3 when I was really hot, but for some reason he didn’t come back."
Koby Clemens & other famous children
of baseball legends
who are playing in the minor leagues
The count is 0 and 2 and Kaz Matsui has one more chance before he fades into major league oblivion. Hot on Matsui’s heels are youngsters Anderson Hernandez, Jeff Keppinger and long in the tooth Bret Boone. It appears that the switch-hitting Anderson Hernandez has the best shot of the three contenders at unseating Mr. Matsui.
In one of Omar Minaya’s underrated deals, Anderson Hernandez came to the Mets in early 2005 from the Tigers for backup catcher Vance Wilson. It was perfect timing— Vance was at the end of the line and Hernandez had finally mastered A-Ball pitching after 3+ years there. Between 2002-2004, Baseball America rated Hernandez as the Tigers best defensive infield prospect, but it wasn’t until he came to the Mets that he showed he could handle the bat in the upper echelons of the minors. In 2005, splitting time between AA-Binghamton and AAA-Norfolk, Hernandez hit .314 with 9 HRs and 54 RBIs in 534 AB. Hernandez is a better hitter from the left side of the plate, but because of his Punch-and-Judy style of hitting, there isn’t much of a difference when he bats righthanded. Partly because his bat speed is average at best, he likes to go the opposite way on most fastballs.
Hernandez was originally a shortstop but has adapted well to second base. He has excellent range,
extraordinary arm strength, and soft hands. His concentration needs to improve, mental lapses contributed to many of his 23 errors last year in the minors. Hernandez has shown potential as a base stealer, but has trouble getting good jumps. Last season he stole 35 bases, but was also caught stealing 18 times. With all-time stolen base leader Rickey Henderson in camp, Hernandez should improve on the basepaths.
After 5 professional seasons, Hernandez finally seemes to be learning better plate discipline— While playing second base in winter ball for the Dominican Republic League Champion Licey Tigers, Hernandez struck out only 19 times in 172 AB while garnering 12 Walks. His
improved patience helped him hit .302 and lead the Licey club into the Carribean Series Champonship, where he teamed with Angels’ hot-shortstop prospect Erik Aybar to form a dazzling defensive-duo up the middle. He had the winning hit in the opening game and demonstrated great poise throughout the rest of the series. Overall, he hit .333 (10-30) with a home run, a triple, and six runs scored.
Even if Matsui or Boone emerge as the starter at second base, Hernandez’s defensive wizardry and flexibility (plays short and second) give him a good shot at making the Met’s roster this spring. But, with veterans Chris Woodward and Jose Valentin in camp- it is more likely he will end up beginning the year at AAA, where he will have to play mostly shortstop because of second baseman Jeff Keppinger’s presence.
Carl The Cabbie
As the spring nears and groundskeepers around the country dust offtheir lawn mowers, here at INSIDE PITCH we will be profiling some of
the Mets’ players you might not know enough about, but will want to
keep an eye on in 2006.
Young starting pitching is essential for any success in the Mets’ future, and their rotation is leaning a bit too far towards the geriatric side these days. So, why in the world would Omar Minaya trade away two more young starting pitchers in the last couple of weeks? Getting Carlos Delgado I could understand, Paul LoDuca-not so much. Wasn’t getting Duaner Sanchez enough, did we really need Jorge Julio too? So why did Minaya feel safe to trade Kris Benson and Jae Seo? One main reason is a fella who’s name just keeps popping up in my sideview mirror. Let me introduce you to Alay Soler. Soler is the latest Cuban stud pitcher who will try his hand at the Majors. The Mets actually signed Soler back in August of 2004 a little after he had landed on the shores of Puerto Rico in a makeshift boat from Cuba. The holdup? Well, according to Soler, his agent at the time, Joe Cubas, held up his immigration papers as a way to blackmail him into giving him 15% of his potential contract. According to Cubas, Soler was trying to enter the U.S. with a fake passport and he wasn’t about to be party to fraud. Whatever the truth may be, Soler has recently been granted a visa to the U.S. as a Puerto Rican citizen.
Soler is 26 years old and has basically had the past two-years off. If his stint over the winter in the Puerto Rican league is any indication, his arm looks fresh as can be. Pitching in the low to mid-nineties, with good command of his fastball, Soler dropped his devastating slider on batters while helping the Ponce Lions into the Caribbean League Series this winter. Alay became Ponce’s best pitcher the moment he hopped aboard. He pitched to the tune of a 2.37 ERA, a 0.92 WHIP with 25 K’s in 38 IP. Granted, the Puerto Rican League is not as robust in hitting as the Major Leagues, but in the least, it appears as if Soler will have no problem imposing his will on minor league competition.
A rare bright moment during the Jim Duquette days as GM, the Mets’ threw almost $3 million at Soler in 2004 hoping he would turn into another Jose Contreras or Livan Hernandez. At the time, the Reds, Cubs, and Devil Rays along with the Mets were bidding very competetively for his services. Upon hearing that the Mets signed Soler, Jorge Oquendo, the Reds Latin American scouting director had this to say,
"He’s better than Contreras. He’s stronger, he’s younger. And he’s very smart. He’ll adapt better to the majors. We were ready to cut a deal with him because he thought he could help us right away and even more for the future. But it sounds like we couldn’t compete with the Mets."
Yes, the latest Kris Benson and Jae Seo deals were about bolstering the bullpen while making room in the rotation for Aaron Heilman and Victor Zambrano. But, these winter moves were just as much about the Mets making room to shine some ‘Soler’ power on Shea come this summer. He’s that good!
Cabbie Scout Notes
Command (+++) Fastball (+++)
Competitiveness (++++) Alay Slider (++++)
Health (+++) Soler Changeup (++)
Intelligence (+++) KnuckleCurve (+++)
+ below average
+++ above average
++++ lights out!