MLB Draft 2012: Odds of Top 10 Relatives of Baseball Stars Reaching MLB
Jose Valentin's son, Jesmuel, was drafted in the first round by the Los Angeles Dodgers; Photo via MLB.com
You need more than major-league bloodlines to actually make it in the major leagues, but bloodlines certainly don't hurt.
For starters, prospects with big-league bloodlines are more likely to get drafted than prospects without them.
We're reminded of this every year, as we inevitably see dozens of players of familiar baseball names get taken in the MLB draft. This year was no different. Hundreds of players were chosen in the 2012 MLB draft, and quite a few of them have major-league bloodlines.
MLB.com has a full list of players taken in this year's draft who have relatives who either played in the past or are playing now. Some of the names jump off the page, like Ripken and Yastrzemski.
These prospects may have famous relatives, but will they ever become famous themselves? Will they ever make it to the big leagues?
Good question. Here's a look at the odds of reaching the major leagues for 10 key prospects with baseball bloodlines.
Levi Borders (11th-Round Pick by Atlanta Braves)
Photo via PerfectGame.org
MLB Relation: Son of former World Series MVP Pat Borders
Pat Borders had a long major-league career that was mostly successful. He was never a superstar, but he certainly played a key role in helping the Toronto Blue Jays win two World Series championships in the early 1990s.
Like his dad, Levi Borders is a catcher with a strong build. According to PerfectGame.org, he checks in at 6'3" and about 180 pounds, yet still has room to grow. He's a right-handed hitter with a line-drive approach, and he makes good, hard contact consistently.
Defensively, Borders has good mechanics, but you can see on video (see MLB.com) that his release isn't very quick and his arm doesn't have elite strength. It's therefore possible that the Braves will look to get him out of the crouch and develop him at some other position, most likely third base.
Borders' swing looks smooth to me, but there's a little bit too much movement in it. There's still room to simplify things.
Borders is a solid prospect, but he's by no means a can't-miss prospect. He's not getting to the big leagues unless he puts in a lot of hard work.
Odds of Reaching Majors: 25-1
Ryan Garvey (33rd-Round Pick by Colorado Rockies)
Photo via Times-News.com
MLB Relation: Son of former NL MVP and 10-time All-Star Steve Garvey
Steve Garvey was a heck of a hitter in his heyday, as he routinely hit over .300 and ultimately retired with a .294 lifetime batting average and 272 home runs. He was one of the most consistent producers in baseball from 1974 to 1981.
The elder Garvey made his living at first base. Though Ryan Garvey can play first, he will likely make his living in the outfield, a place where he can make use of his good speed and solid arm.
Just like his dad did, however, Ryan Garvey has a nice, compact swing that is only getting more and more powerful.
You can catch a glimpse of Garvey's swing over at BaseballFactory.com, and you'll see just how compact it is. He doesn't extend his arms too much, and that allows him to be quick to the ball while generating power at the same time.
The hard part now becomes finding a proper position for Garvey. If the Rockies want to build him up as a power hitter, first base is the way to go. If they want him to be more of a multidimensional threat, outfield is the way to go.
Either way, Garvey faces an uphill climb to the majors after falling all the way to the 33rd round. He's going to have to wow a lot of people.
Odds of Reaching Majors: 50-1
Cameron Gibson (38th-Round Pick by Arizona Diamondbacks)
Photo Credit: David Guralnick via The Detroit News
MLB Relation: Son of former NL MVP and Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson
Kirk Gibson's home run in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series is one of the most famous home runs in baseball history. He also hit 255 regular-season home runs during his career, which spanned nearly two decades.
Cameron Gibson's lefty stroke looks a lot like his dad's, and it's clear from watching some video on Gibson that there's some power potential in his bat.
Unfortunately, Gibson is relatively new to baseball. Last August, Kirk Gibson told MLB.com that his son had previously been committed primarily to playing hockey, and that he had just started to take baseball seriously.
That doesn't bode well for Gibson's baseball career. He has a lot of catching up to do, and he'll be trying to do it against top-level competition.
Odds of Reaching Major Leagues: 100-1
Jordan Hershiser (34th-Round Pick by Los Angeles Dodgers)
Photo via USCTrojans.com
MLB Relation: Son of former NL Cy Young winner Orel Hershiser
Orel Hershiser was one of the top pitchers in the National League in the mid-to-late 1980s. He peaked in 1988 when he won 23 games with a 2.26 ERA, ultimately winning the NL Cy Young award.
Jordan Hershiser has a long road ahead. According to his profile on USC's official website, he's already had to fight through some serious arm injuries. He missed the entire 2009 season after having Tommy John surgery, and he was undone by injuries in 2010 and 2011 as well.
Hershiser managed to make five appearances for the Trojans in 2012, striking out eight in 5.1 innings of work.
He has the build of a solid pitcher at 6'8" and 245 pounds. But with his injury history, it's highly unlikely that he'll ever have a home in the majors.
Odds of Reaching Majors: 125-1
Matt Kimbrel (31st-Round Pick by Atlanta Braves)
Photo via The Huntsville Times
MLB Relation: Brother of Braves closer Craig Kimbrel
You won't find a closer with nastier stuff than Craig Kimbrel. He throws his fastball in the mid-to-high 90s and he complements it with one of baseball's filthiest sliders. He had a K/9 over 14.00 last season, and he's well on his way to doing that again this season.
Matt Kimbrel is different. Per the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the younger Kimbrel is a sinker-baller who will make his living starting games, not closing them. The older bro thinks the younger bro has better off-speed stuff.
The trouble is that Matt is coming off reconstructive elbow surgery, meaning there's no guarantee the Braves will even bother signing him.
If not, he could choose to make the most of offers to pitch at Florida Southern or Lehigh. Combined with his uncertain health status, those two options make his immediate big-league career somewhat iffy.
Odds of Reaching Major Leagues: 45-1
Tate Matheny (23rd-Round Pick by St. Louis Cardinals)
Photo via FoxSportsMidwest.com
MLB Relation: Son of four-time Gold Glove winner and current Cardinals manager Mike Matheny
Mike Matheny was never much of a hitter, but he could definitely hold his own behind the plate defensively. Those four Gold Gloves aren't misleading.
Tate Matheny is not going to be a Gold Glove catcher. He can play catcher, but he also has the speed and athleticism to play in the outfield. He has room to grow, but his wiry frame makes him better suited to play in the outfield moving forward.
Per PerfectGame.org, Matheny has a line-drive approach at the plate, and he uses quick hands to square the ball up once it gets deep in the zone. He hit more triples than doubles in his senior season of high school; a sign of how good he is at getting the ball into the gaps.
According to FoxSportsMidwest.com, Mike Matheny actually asked the Cardinals not to draft his son, but they did anyway because they think he has a chance to be a good major-league player.
That, and the fact that the Cardinals are very good at drafting and developing, bodes well for Tate.
Odds of Reaching the Major Leagues: 20-1
L.J. Mazzilli (9th-Round Pick by Minnesota Twins)
Photo Credit: John Woike via the Hartford Courant
MLB Relation: Son of former All-Star and Orioles Manager Lee Mazzilli
Lee Mazzilli was never really a star player during his major-league career, but he managed to stick around for 14 seasons.
L.J. Mazzilli has the potential to be something special. Per the Hartford Courant, Mazzilli hit .334 during his three-year career at UConn, tallying a grand total of 203 hits. He hit .339 with nine home runs as a junior.
Mazzilli played second base at UConn, but he's likely to end up at third base or in the outfield in the pros.
Wherever he ends up in the field, Mazzilli has it in him to be a very good hitter. A quick video study reveals his swing to be very simple with very little movement involved. He keeps his head still through his swing, and there's some power potential there because of his solid base and strong upper body.
The Twins will take good care of him. They know how to pick 'em and how to develop 'em.
Odds of Reaching Major Leagues: 20-1
Ryan Ripken (20th-Round Pick by Baltimore Orioles)
Photo via sbynews.blogspot.com
MLB Relation: Son of Cal Ripken, Jr.
Cal Ripken, Jr. revolutionized the shortstop position, and he didn't miss a game for nearly two decades while doing so.
It suffices to say that Ryan Ripken has a lot to live up to, but it's not entirely fair to compare him to his legendary dad. They're two completely different players.
Ryan is taller than his dad at roughly 6'6", and he also bats and swings left-handed. He'll make his living at first base, not at shortstop.
Ripken is going to need to pack a lot of muscle onto his skinny frame, but the good news is that he has a pretty lefty swing and a very quick bat (video courtesy of BaseballFactory.com). He's a line-drive hitter now, but that will change once he adds some strength.
Right now, Ripken isn't an elite prospect. He does, however, project to be a decent ballplayer if he works hard.
And yes, he'll be helped by the fact that he's playing in an Orioles organization that has nothing but love for his dad.
Odds of Reaching Major Leagues: 30-1
Jesmuel Valentin (1st-Round Pick by Los Angeles Dodgers)
Photo via MLB.com
MLB Relation: Son of longtime big leaguer Jose Valentin
Jose Valentin was never a star, but he could hit for a little power in his heyday. Between 1996 and 2004, he averaged better than 20 home runs a season.
Like his dad, Jesmuel Valentin is a shortstop by trade, though he had to play a lot of second base at the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy so a guy named Carlos Correa could handle shortstop duties. Regardless, Baseball America says Valentin is a "smooth defender with a strong arm."
At the plate, Valentin is a line-drive hitter with good bat speed. He's naturally a righty, but he's been working on trying to figure out switch-hitting. That experiment has supposedly gone surprisingly well. His swing from the left side looks very pretty, and it looks like he has more power from that side (see BaseballFactory.com video).
The Dodgers farm system is crowded with talented pitchers, but there aren't that many talented position players standing in Valentin's way. Things are aligned in his favor.
Odds of Reaching Major Leagues: 10-1
Mike Yastrzemski (30th-Round Pick by Seattle Mariners)
Photo via the Houston Chronicle
MLB Relation: Grandson of Carl Yastrzemski
There's only one Yaz. Carl Yastrzemski played 23 seasons for the Boston Red Sox, making 18 All-Star appearances and winning the AL MVP in 1967. He's the last man to win the Triple Crown.
Mike Yastrzemski doesn't project to be as great a player as his grandfather was, but he definitely brings some skills to the table.
Yastrzemski failed to hit over .300 in any of his three seasons at Vanderbilt, but this past season he managed to hit .286 as a junior while showing off an impressive combination of power and speed. He hit six home runs and stole 14 bases in 19 attempts, per MLB.com.
The young Yaz is a left-handed hitter with a quick stroke and a solid line-drive approach. He got better and better in each of his three years at Vanderbilt, and his big-league bloodlines definitely won't hurt him as he moves into professional baseball.
It's worth noting that Yastrzemski was a 36th-round pick by the Boston Red Sox in 2009. His three years at Vanderbilt boosted his stock, but not by a significant margin.
Odds of Reaching Major Leagues: 60-1
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