Odds of Each Notable 2016 MLB Draft 'Legacy' Prospect Reaching the Majors
At some point in nearly everyone's childhood, they decide they want to follow in a family member's footsteps. For some, it's their mother or father. For others, it’s a brother or sister. And while many ultimately choose another path, some stick with it and follow through on that initial decision.
That includes the relatives of professional athletes, who do so knowing they won't be viewed the same way their peers are; they're entering a playing field tilted in everyone else's favor.
“People have certain expectations just because of your last name," Notre Dame outfielder Torii Hunter Jr., son of the recently retired five-time All-Star of the same name, told Bleacher Report's Seth Gruen. "You just learn to shake those expectations and play the game you know how to play and just not let it affect you."
While Hunter Jr. and his fellow legacy picks in this year's MLB draft do their best to blaze their own paths, the name on the back of their uniform most certainly had an effect on the teams that selected them.
In some situations, it’s the deciding factor. When the scouting reports are close and the front office is torn about who to select, taking a chance on the son of a Hall of Fame player, like Craig Biggio's son, Notre Dame second baseman Cavan, is more appealing than picking someone without big league bloodlines.
“The name can only take you so far,” Cavan told Gruen. “It’s going to catch people’s eye. But at the end of the day, if you can play, you can play.”
Name recognition likely played a part in a number of selections, including Brandon Bonilla, Quinn Hoffman and Bo Weiss, while it wasn't enough for the likes of Brandon Grudzielanek, Jake Matheny and Darien McLemore to hear their names called.
Rather than list the odds for every legacy pick, we'll focus instead on the most notable, using the following criteria to define a legacy pick as "notable":
- What level of success did the former player have during their playing career? Do we remember them, or are they among the hundreds of players we've forgotten about, only to be reminded of when looking through dusty boxes of baseball cards in our parents' attic?
- Was there any buzz surrounding the prospect heading into the draft? Those who cracked Baseball America's top 500 draft prospects list got stronger consideration for inclusion than those who didn't.
Is it a perfect system? Of course not. But for this exercise, it's good enough. Can we say the same about the odds of the most notable legacy prospects one day showcasing their skills in the majors? Let's take a look.
Bo Bichette, 2B/3B, Toronto Blue Jays
Bo Bichette doesn't sound like a player who intends to honor his commitment to Arizona State University.
"The Blue Jays were the top team that I wanted to go to,'' Bichette told Rodney Page of the Tampa Bay Times after Toronto took him in the second round, 66th overall. "They were the best as far as player development. I may end up taking a little less (in signing bonus), but this is the best fit. I actually turned down about four offers earlier in the draft because they weren't good fits."
Bichette's loudest tool is his right-handed power, which shouldn't come as much of a surprise considering his father, four-time All-Star Dante Bichette, averaged nearly 20 home runs a season over his 14-year career.
Like his dad—and brother, Dante Jr., who the New York Yankees selected with a first-round pick in 2011—Bo has lots of moving parts to his swing, which will need to be simplified. But his excellent bat speed helps to make up for those mechanical flaws and, eventually, will help him harness more of his raw strength.
Bichette could stick at second base, but he's probably destined for a corner spot in the infield or outfield, where his below-average speed would be less of an issue. He may never be a MVP candidate like his father once was, but if the 18-year-old can make the necessary adjustments, he has a chance to become a solid run-producer in a big league lineup.
Odds of Reaching the Majors: 25-1
Cavan Biggio, 2B, Toronto Blue Jays
Toronto's take on its fifth-round pick, Cavan Biggio, reads a whole lot like the one longtime scout Phil Rossi filed for his father while working for the Houston Astros in 1987.
"[Cavan] gets on base, he battles; it's a good top-of-the-order profile," Blue Jays director of amateur scouting Brian Parker told MLB.com's Brian McTaggart. "He's kind of a two-way guy at second. He has great make-up, grinder, all of that stuff, but we like him as a player and a guy that can play both ways offense and defense. He can really help us as a top-of-the-order bat."
But the younger Biggio has a long way to go before he's contributing at Rogers Centre.
While his instincts are superb, he knows how to draw a walk and can steal a base when he gets on, Biggio lacks a standout physical tool. There are questions about how his bat will fare against advanced pitching and whether he has the chops to be anything more than an average defender at the keystone.
That said, there are no questions about his work ethic, baseball IQ and desire to improve, and Biggio wouldn't be the first player without a standout tool to reach the big leagues. He may never be a star like his father, but a career as a solid, unspectacular contributor isn't out of reach.
Odds of Reaching the Majors: 35-1
*Phil Rossi's scouting report courtesy of the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Conner Capel, OF, Cleveland Indians
Conner Capel's big league bloodlines aren't as impressive as the other legacy prospects on this list—his father, Mike, spent parts of three seasons as a mediocre reliever in the majors—but his upside is bigger than most of his counterparts.
What he lacks in power he makes up for with consistent contact and big-time speed, all the tools a team looks for in a future leadoff hitter. That profile helps explain why Baseball America compared him to current Indians center fielder Tyler Naquin.
If he can maintain his speed as he continues to fill out his 6'1", 185-pound frame, Capel has a chance to play in center and serve as a table-setter atop a team's lineup. If he loses a step or two, he has the arm to stick in an outfield corner, though his present lack of power makes him less of an ideal fit.
Odds of Reaching the Majors: 25-1
Trey Griffey, CF, Seattle Mariners
Few athletes are as revered in the Pacific Northwest as No. 24, Ken Griffey Jr., so it was only fitting that the team he spent the bulk of his career with, the Seattle Mariners, selected his son, Trey, in the 2016 MLB draft. In the 24th round, no less.
“We’re getting real creative in our old age. We knew we are going to do it,” Tom McNamara, Seattle's director of amateur scouting, told the Seattle Times' Ryan Divish. ”One of our baseball ops guys, Wes Battle, came over and said it wouldn’t be a bad idea if you took him in the 24th round.”
But the eldest kid of "The Kid" hasn't played competitively on the diamond since middle school, focusing his efforts on the gridiron instead. "Baseball will always be in my genes," he told ESPN.com's Mitch Sherman in 2012. "...But I don't really have the love for it that I do for football."
Unless he has a sudden change of heart, his selection will be nothing more than a symbolic one, which is fine with McNamara. “We just want him to know that if he’s ever interested in playing pro baseball, we have a job for him,” he told Divish.
Odds of Reaching the Majors: 1000-1
Jacob Heyward, CF, San Francisco Giants
Chicago's Jason Heyward has never developed into the offensive dynamo many expected him to be, but he's been a force when facing off against San Francisco. Over 35 career games versus the Giants, he's hit .303 with 12 extra-base hits (6 HR), 16 RBI and a .926 OPS.
You can't help but think that played a part in the Giants' decision to take his younger brother, Jacob, in the 18th round.
Like his older brother, Jacob has good bat speed and impressive raw power he struggles to tap into on a consistent basis. He's not nearly as fast or blessed with as strong an arm as Jason, which points to a future in left field or as a fourth outfielder—roles in which those things would be less of an issue.
But as Bleacher Report's Joel Reuter wrote in his profile of Heyward, there's no guarantee he's going to turn pro.
"After a standout sophomore season, Heyward has seen his numbers plummet across the board this year. He's one of the few college juniors who could stand to benefit from a return to college for his final season of eligibility."
While it's hard not to like his fit with the Giants, an organization that needs an influx of intriguing young outfielders with upside, a strong senior season could find Heyward taken significantly earlier in next year's draft.
Odds of Reaching the Majors: 40-1 (assuming he signs)
Torii Hunter Jr., OF, Los Angeles Angels
A wide receiver on Notre Dame's football team, Torii Hunter Jr. hasn't spent much time around the school's baseball team, taking just 11 at-bats this season for the Fighting Irish.
But unlike Trey Griffey, who has no intention of following in his father's footsteps, Torii Hunter's son wants to play professional baseball, according to MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez.
"So we were willing to take a chance," Angels director of scouting Ric Wilson told Gonzalez. "It's hard to turn those kind of tools away. He can run, he's got some power, he's got some strength to him; he's very, very athletic. We'll roll the dice, see what we've got. It's hard to go wrong when you take athletes."
While the tools and athleticism are there, Hunter Jr. is incredibly raw on the diamond and will need far more time to develop than most position players drafted out of college. While you can never definitively say never, his path to the big leagues may be longer—and harder—than any other legacy pick.
Odds of Reaching the Majors: 150-1
Preston Palmeiro, 1B, Baltimore Orioles
Rafael Palmeiro spent seven years of his 20-year career in Baltimore and, as he told MLB.com's Brittany Ghirolli, he has "Orioles stuff all over [his] house." So it was an extra-special day for the family when the O's took his son, Preston, in the seventh round of this year's draft.
But Preston may not feel the same way, based on comments he made last year to the Boston Globe's Stan Grossfeld.
"I've been blessed to be around baseball my whole life, and my dad accomplished and taught me so much. The only curse is there's always expectations. ... Every game I've played it's always Rafael Palmeiro's son; its never just Preston Palmeiro."
The younger Palmeiro is a good contact hitter and solid athlete, but as Baseball America noted in its draft profile on him, that might not be enough for him to stick at first base long term.
"His power is mostly to the gaps, but he has some bat speed, can jump a fastball and is an intelligent hitter," per Baseball America. "He has a tough profile at first base without big home run power, but he's a below-average runner, which may preclude a move to left field."
Palmeiro has enough going for him that he should be able to reach the big leagues as he continues to develop, but unless his power starts to play up, his time in the majors could be short-lived.
Odds of Reaching the Majors: 45-1
Cal Quantrill, RHP, San Diego Padres
Back in 2005, Paul Quantrill bought his nine-year-old son, Cal, to spring training with the New York Yankees—and forgot to take the tyke with him when he left.
“Well, he’d gone home,” Cal recounted for Janie McCauley of the Associated Press last year (via the Journal News' Chad Jennings). “He’s gone. My mom’s gone. Randy Johnson is my dad’s locker mate. I remember walking up to him—I’m 4 1/2 feet tall…and he’s 6-11, whatever he was—I go, ‘Mr. Johnson, I was wondering if you could call my dad?’”
The younger Quantrill found his way home—and 11 years later, he found his way to San Diego, which made him the eighth overall selection in the 2016 draft despite the fact he missed most of his sophomore year and his entire junior season at Stanford after undergoing Tommy John surgery.
"We feel like we got a value play," Padres general manager A.J. Preller told the San Diego Union-Tribune's Dennis Lin. "Honestly, if he's healthy all year pitching at Stanford, we probably don't see him there at pick eight."
That's probably an accurate assessment, as the 21-year-old Quantrill has an impressive four-pitch mix that includes a plus fastball and curve and a great feel for pitching. While not pitching in an actual game for more than a year is a concern, Quantrill has the chance to be something special in the Padres rotation.
Odds of Reaching the Majors: 8-1
Nick Shumpert, 2B, Atlanta Braves
Nick Shumpert's draft stock was significantly higher coming out of high school last year than it was in 2016, and it showed. After failing to sign with Detroit as a seventh-round pick in 2015, Shumpert attended San Jacinto Community College—and fell to Atlanta in the 28th round of this year's draft.
The tools that made Shumpert, the son of former big league infielder Terry Shumpert and cousin of Boston center fielder Mookie Betts an intriguing selection—agility, athleticism and speed—remain, but so too do questions about the swing-and-miss in his game.
He has the defensive chops to stick at second base and the speed to cause problems when he reaches base, but unless he cuts down on his whiffs and makes more consistent contact against advanced pitching, he may never be anything more than organizational depth for the Braves.
Odds of Reaching the Majors: 75-1