It happens every year. The Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft (as it is officially known) gets deep into the double-digit-numbered rounds and loopy, sleep-deprived scouting directors begin spending their picks on the offspring of people who they work for. Or who they used to work for, or for people who work for some other major league team, or kids of friends of theirs.
Sometimes it works — Mike Piazza was a 62nd-round pick of the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1988, chosen as a favor to his father, Vincent, who had been a friend of then-Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda for many years. Piazza’s headed to the Hall of Fame.
Most times it doesn’t. Perhaps the silliest pick of this nature was made by then-White Sox GM Ron Schueler in 1993, when he chose his daughter Carey in the 43rd round. Carey Schueler was a high-school athlete, played college basketball at DePaul and today is a personal trainer at a Chicago health club, so at least she had — and still has — athletic ability.
Schueler must have left notes on this for his successor, Kenny Williams; Williams has drafted three of his own sons (Kyle, 2006; Kenneth, 2008; Tyler, 2009). You might remember Kyle Williams better for a certain play he made as a member of the San Francisco 49ers in last January’s NFC Championship Game.
Here are some of the more interesting nepotism picks from the just-completed 2012 draft. A big thank you to my Minor League Editor at Bleed Cubbie Blue, Josh Timmers, for his assistance in putting together this feature.
A Chip Off The Old Skip (sons of major league managers):
The Cardinals Are One Big Happy Family — In addition to Matheny, the Cards drafted:
1B Joe Alvarez, 21st round (Dad Joe is a scout)
SS Eduardo Oquendo, 32nd round (Jose is St. Louis’ longtime third base coach)
OF Derrick May, 37th round (son of the Cards’ minor league hitting instructor and former major league OF)
RHP Mike Aldrete, 39th round (Dad is the team’s bench coach)
The Family Checks Out (son of a team’s scout):
C CJ Watkins, 10th round, Red Sox (Dad Danny is a Red Sox scout)
C Alex Ross, 34th round, Mariners (Dad Joe is Mariners Northwest area scout)
C Justin Morhardt, 39th round, Angels (Dad Greg is the Angels‘ national cross-checker)
Friends In High Places (relatives of executives):
3B Jose Vizcaino, 36th round, Dodgers (Jose Sr. is a Special Assistant, Baseball Operations in LA)
LHP Kyle Ottoson, 34th round, Padres (Cousin of Mark Loretta, now a Special Assistant to the GM in San Diego)
RHP Zane Hemond, 40th round, Diamondbacks (Grandpa Roland Hemond was in D’Backs front office, 1997-2000, and a longtime GM for the White Sox and Orioles)
He’s Your Kid, Not Mine (sons of front office execs taken by other teams):
C Chris O’Dowd, 23rd round, Padres (son of Rockies GM Dan O’Dowd)
OF Kyle Wren, 30th round, Reds (son of Braves GM Frank Wren)
2B Tommy Mirabelli, 28th round, Pirates (son of Indians Scouting Director John Mirabelli)
If You Say No, I’m Asking Mom (other coaches’ sons):
C James Sinatro, 35th round, Astros (Matt is the Astros’ catching instructor)
C Levi Borders, 11th round, Braves (Pat manages in the Braves’ system)
OF Anthony Renteria, 39th round, Padres (Rick is the Padres’ Bench Coach)
C Miguel Rodriguez, 36th round, Red Sox (Dad Victor is the team’s Minor League hitting coordinator)
If It Worked Once (sons of a team’s famous players):
1B Ryan Ripken, 20th round, Orioles (Billy’s nephew. Dad was named Cal.)
RHP Jordan Hershiser, 34th round, Dodgers
He Sure Likes To Talk (a team broadcaster’s relative):
SS Nick Hamilton 35th Round, Indians (Dad Tom Hamilton is the Tribe’s radio play-by-play man)
“You Had Your Chance”:
OF Michael Yastrzemski, 30th round, Mariners. Carl’s grandson was drafted by the Red Sox in the 36th round in 2009, but didn’t sign. Michael’s dad, also named Mike, played in the Red Sox organization from 1984-88.
Naturally, we have saved the best for last.
We’re Really Sorry We Just Fired Your Uncle:
RHP Kenny Hatcher, 36th Round, Angels (nephew of fired Angels hitting coach Mickey Hatcher)