Notable Draft names: Clemens, Conine ... Larry King?
A stacked gene pool is no guarantee of success in professional baseball. For every Barry Bonds and Ken Griffey Jr., there are hundreds of other sons of Major Leaguers who never quite reached the fame of their fathers.
But if there was any time that proves that diamond skill can be passed down, it would be now. Look no further than the Blue Jays' farm system, stacked with sons of MLB stars including Bo Bichette Jr., Cavan Biggio and Vladimir Guerrero Jr., that's making Toronto's future look very bright. Meanwhile Tom Gordon's son, Nick, ranks among the game's most promising shortstops as he rises up the Twins' farm system, and Rangers center fielder Delino DeShields Jr. is coming into his own as one of the Major's preeminent speedsters.
:: 2018 Draft coverage ::
Yes, it's a good time for legacy players, and more recognizable names are on the way. Below are some prospects with famous MLB connections to keep an eye on during the 2018 MLB Draft, including a handful of players from MLB Pipeline's Top 100 Draft Prospects list.
Player: Aaron Ashby, Crowder College, LHP
Relative: Andy Ashby (Uncle)
Ashby is following right in the footsteps of his uncle, who attended the same high school and junior college before becoming a two-time All-Star while pitching for five teams over 14 Major League seasons. This southpaw is known for his breaking ball and has turned heads with an off-the-charts 18.8 strikeout per nine inning ratio during his second season at Crowder.
Player: George Bell Jr., Connors State College, OF
Relative: George Bell (Father)
The son of the 1987 American League MVP and former Blue Jays star has deep bloodline connections to baseball, as his brother and three of his uncles were also signed by MLB clubs. Bell is a free swinger like his father, but he can make pitchers pay like his dad could too. He wrapped up his sophomore campaign with a .512 slugging percentage, 51 RBIs and 60 runs scored over 57 games.
Player: Grayson Byrd, Clemson, SS
Relative: Paul Byrd (Father)
Byrd could have followed in his father's footsteps when the Braves drafted him in the 39th round in 2014, but he opted to transfer from LSU to Clemson instead. The shortstop showed some power this spring for the Tigers, slugging .460 and knocking nine homers in 137 at-bats.
Player: Kody Clemens, Texas, 2B
Relative: Roger Clemens (Father)
The youngest of The Rocket's four sons, Kody has come into his own during his junior season in Austin. The second baseman entered Monday leading the Longhorns with a .437 average, a .437 on-base percentage, a .703 slugging percentage and 19 homers. Clemens' older brother, Kacy, was drafted by the Blue Jays last year -- and we know that Toronto loves its legacy prospects.
Player: Griffin Conine, Duke, RF (No. 65 on Top 100 list)
Relative: Jeff Conine (Father)
The son of "Mr. Marlin" is on track to be selected much higher than his father, a 58th-round pick in 1987, thanks to his powerful bat. Scouts say Conine possesses excellent bat speed and can spray the ball to every part of the field, and he also features a strong arm from the shortstop position.
Player: Parker Kelly, Oregon, RHP
Relative: Carson Kelly (Brother)
Kelly turned down a 34th-round selection by the Cardinals -- the same organization that now boasts his brother as top catching prospect -- in 2015 and he opted instead to attend Oregon, where he's become one of the Ducks' top relievers. A strong Cape Cod League showing last summer launched Kelly into a junior season in which the righty has compiled a sub-2.00 ERA while striking out more than a batter per inning.
Player: Cannon (Beverly Hills HS, 1B) and Chance (West Los Angeles College, RHP) King
Relative: Larry King (Father)
The sons of the longtime television personality have been making their own marks in Hollywood. The White Sox drafted Chance in the 39th round last summer before he opted to attend college, and his younger brother has shown Draft interest this time around. Both Kings caught the White Sox's attention after Dennis Gilbert, special assistant to team chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, saw Cannon play and recommended him to the organization's scouting department.
Player: Parker Meadows, Grayson (Ga.) HS, OF (No. 48 on Top 100 list)
Relative: Austin Meadows (Brother)
Meadows isn't regarded quite as highly as his older brother, the Pirates' ninth overall selection in 2013, but he'll likely come off the board in the second round thanks to his solid all-around skills. Meadows' plus-speed means he can play any spot in the outfield, with potential for a 20-20 season down the road if he can consistently leverage his power at the plate.
Player: Noah Naylor, St. Joan of Arc (Ont.) HS, C (No. 32 on Top 100 list)
Relative: Josh Naylor (Brother)
Naylor possesses similar tools to his older brother, a top prospect in the Padres' farm system, with the added bonus of being able to catch behind the plate. Naylor showed off his powerful bat when he took hacks in last summer's High School Home Run Derby at Marlins Park, hours before his brother took the field in the Futures Game.
Player: Tristan Pompey, Kentucky, LF (No. 40 on Top 100 list)
Relative: Dalton Pompey (Brother)
Evaluators say the 21-year-old is more advanced physically than his older brother was before he went on to contribute to the Blue Jays at the Major League level. Pompey has shown ability to hit from both sides of the plate while still learning how to translate his quickness onto the diamond.
Player: Benito Ivan Santiago, Tennesee, C
Relative: Benito Santiago (Father)
Yes, the son of the 1987 NL Rookie of the Year and five-time All-Star for the Padres and Giants is also a catcher, pairing a strong arm behind the plate with a bat that shows occasional pop.
Player: Alek Thomas, Mount Carmel (Ill.) HS, OF (No. 67 on Top 100 list)
Relative: Allen Thomas (Father)
The son of the White Sox director of strength and conditioning has ambitious goals, as he hopes to play outfield and slot receiver for the football team at TCU. Thomas was named Gatorade's 2017 Illinois baseball player of the year thanks to his sneaky power at the plate and his dominant athleticism out in the field. Thomas' game has drawn comparisons to Andrew Benintendi and Jacoby Ellsbury, though it's believed he might be a more advanced baseball player than they were at this stage of their careers.
Player: Brice Turang, Santiago (Calif.) HS, SS (No. 22 on Top 100 list)
Relative: Brian Turang (Father)
Turang was arguably the top high school player entering last year's Draft, but a slightly disappointing summer showcase and subsequent senior season at Santiago has lowered expectations a bit. Still, Turang possesses one of the better all-around skill sets in this year's class, and he certainly has the bloodlines after his father made Seattle's big league club as an outfielder in 1993 and '94.
Player: Ryan Weathers, Loretto (Tenn.) HS, LHP (No. 13 on Top 100 list)
Relative: David Weathers (Father -- 19 years in MLB)
A product of Loretto High School in Tennessee, just like his father, Weathers has an advanced changeup and a fastball that tops at 95 mph to Vanderbilt. The 18-year-old Vanderbilt commit dominated batters at Loretto, setting a Tennesee high school tournament record with 28 strikeouts last spring, including 12 in a shutout in the Class A championship game. He also turned in two scoreless outings for Team USA en route to its 18-and-under World Cup win in September. Weathers gets his athleticism from both sides of his family -- his mother was an All-American basketball player at Belmont.
Of course, out of more than a thousand draft-eligible players in 2018 those aren't the only familial connections you may recognize. Here are some other notable names to look out for:
Player: Blaze Alexander, IMG Academy, SS
Relative: Chuck Alexander (Father -- pitched in Indians' farm system)
Player: George Arias Jr., Tuscon High Magnet HS, RHP
Relative: George Arias (Father -- four years in MLB)
Player: Jonathan Bowlan, Memphis, RHP
Relative: Mark Bowlan (Father -- fellow Memphis ace, pitched in Cardinals farm system)
Player: Kohl Franklin, Broken Arrow (Okla.) HS, SS
Relative: Ryan Franklin (Uncle -- 12 years in MLB)
Player: Mateo Gil, Timber Creek (Texas) HS, RHP
Relative: Benji Gil (Father -- eight years in MLB)
Player: A.J. Graffanino, Washington, SS
Relative: Tony Graffanino (Father -- 13 years in MLB)
Player: Cobi Johnson, Florida State, RHP
Relative: Dane Johnson (Father -- former second-round draft choice of Blue Jays; three years in MLB; current Blue Jays bullpen coach)
Player: Osiris Johnson, Encinal (Calif.) HS, SS
Relative: Marcel Johnson (Father -- played in Mets farm system); Jimmy Rollins (Cousin -- 17 years in MLB; 2007 NL MVP); Tony Tarasco (Cousin -- eight years in MLB)
Player: Eric Kennedy, Calvary Christian (Fla.) HS, OF
Relative: Nick Kennedy (Brother -- Rockies' fifth round draft pick in 2017)
Player: Nolan Kingham, Texas Austin, RHP
Relative:Nick Kingham (Brother -- Pirates RHP)
Player: Stephen Kolek, Texas A&M, RHP
Relative: Tyler Kolek (Brother -- Marlins No. 27 prospect)
Player: Jacob Maton, Glenwood (Ill.) HS, RHP
Relative:Phil Maton (Brother -- Padres RHP); Nick Maton (Brother -- Phillies Minor Leaguer)
Player: J.J. Montgomery, California Baptist, RHP
Relative: Christian Montgomery (Brother -- Mets' 11th-round draft choice in 2011)
Player: Richard Palacios Jr., Towson, SS
Relative: Richard Palacios (Father -- played in Tigers farm system); Rey Palacios (Uncle -- three years in MLB); Josh Palacios (Brother -- Blue Jays' fourth-round pick in 2016)
Player: Nathan Reynolds, Louisiana Monroe, SS
Relative: Donnie Reynolds (Uncle -- two years in MLB); Harold Reynolds (Uncle -- two-time All-Star; television broadcaster)
Player: Ryan Reynolds, Texas, 3B
Relative: Shane Reynolds (Father -- 13 years in MLB)
Player: Cameron Sanders, LSU, RHP
Relative: Scott Sanders (Father -- seven years in MLB)
Player: Matthew Schmidt, Texas, 3B
Relative: Bill Schmidt (Father -- Rockies' Vice President of Scouting)
Player: Adam Hackenberg, Miller School of Albemarle (Va.) HS, C
Relative: Christian Hackenberg (Brother -- NFL quarterback)
Player: Justin Lewis, Kentucky, RHP
Relatives: Chuck Hayes (Cousin -- former NBA player) and Richard Sherman (Cousin -- current NFL star)
Player: J'Mar Smith, LSU, C
Relative: Kenny Smith (Father -- former NFL defensive lineman)