Justin Verlander (left) and brother Ben (right) at Comerica Park. (USA Today)
As is always the case during MLB's draft, once you get past some of the higher regarded talents and prospects most likely to make a quick impact in their new organization, fans tend to watch more for names with interesting lineage as opposed to upside or makeup. Often times they're players with connections to current or former players in MLB, but sometimes you'll see relatives of athletes in other sports, and even some with historic roots.
Admittedly, we didn't have too much of the latter two categories in this particular draft, but we hear a lot of names with MLB blood in their veins. Here's a quick look at some of those players and their prospects of making the big time.
Detroit Tigers selected Ben Verlander, outfielder, Old Dominion (Round 14, Pick 426): When you've helped develop one brother into the best pitcher in the game, why not try your hand at developing another into a big league hitter? That's exactly what the Tigers will attempt to do after selecting the younger brother of Justin Verlander, Ben Verlander, in the 14th round.
In actuality, the Tigers may not have to work too hard at it at all. Ben Verlander is already regarded as a legitimate four-tool prospect. In his junior season at ODU, he produced a .367 average with 11 homers and 44 RBIs, good enough for earning him all-conference honors. There are few questions about his ability, and if he's anything like big brother, work ethic won't be a problem. There's a decent chance the Tigers got a steal here.
Philadelphia Phillies selected J.P. Crawford, shortstop, Lakewood HS (CA) (Round 1, Pick 16): The earliest of the players with MLB connections was taken right away in the first round. The cousin of Dodgers outfielder Carl Crawford, 18-year-old J.P. Crawford is headed to Philadelphia where he hopes to eventually fill the shoes of current shortstop Jimmy Rollins. At 6-3, 175 pounds, the Phillies will allow Crawford to fill out over the next few years before penciling him in, but their belief is he can develop into a .280 hitter with stolen base potential.
Texas Rangers selected Joe Jackson, catcher, The Citadel (Round 5, Pick 160): He’s the great-great-great nephew of Shoeless Joe Jackson, which we believe is enough of a generational gap to give a completely clean slate. As a junior, Jackson hit .259 with one homer and 26 RBI in 58 games against mostly lighter competition. He did, however, make the Southern Conference All-Freshman Team in 2011.
Atlanta Braves selected Kyle Wren, outfielder, Georgia Tech (Round 8, Pick 253): Braves general manager Frank Wren keeps it in the family by drafting his own son in the eighth round. It’s the third time the younger Wren has been drafted, and we’d say odds are pretty good he’ll sign this time. Unless, of course, a father can’t trust a son's word.
Baltimore Orioles selected Mike Yastrzemski, outfielder, Vanderbilt (Round 14, Pick 429): There has only been one "Yaz" in MLB history. As the grandson of Red Sox legend Carl Yastrzemski, 14th round selection Mike Yastrzemski would like to change that by reaching the big leagues with one of his grandfather's division rivals, the Baltimore Orioles.
Playing for a powerhouse like Vanderbilt may help the process. Over the course of his time there, the Commodores advanced to the College World Series in 2011, the Regionals last season and the SEC Tournament championship game this season. Good experience, and his .322 average with a .415 on-base percentage in 63 games don't look too bad either.
Colorado Rockies selected Hunter Brothers, pitcher, Lipscomb University (Round 24, Pick 709): The Brothers brothers reunite in Colorado. Hunter is indeed the younger sibling of new Rockies closer Rex Brothers.
Philadelphia Phillies selected Cavan Biggio, second baseman, St. Thomas HS (TX) (Round 29, Pick 876): He's the son of Houston Astros legend Craig Biggio and a first day talent, but Cavan Biggio has already decided he'll be attending the University of Notre Dame.
Houston Astros selected Kacy Clemens, pitcher, Memorial HS (TX) (Round 35, Pick 1037): The son of Roger Clemens now has two options, and both will allow him to stay in the state of Texas. The first would be to honor his commitment to the University of Texas and continue his development there. The other is to sign with Houston where there might be a good chance to advance quickly. It will be very interesting to see which way he leans.
Detroit Tigers selected Torii Hunter Jr., outfielder, Prosper HS (TX) (Round 36, Pick 1086): Detroit adds another family member to their, well, baseball family I suppose you could say, by selecting the son of outfielder Torii Hunter. It's very unlikely he'll sign, though, as he has a commitment to Notre Dame.
New York Yankees selected Josh Pettitte, pitcher, Deer Park HS (TX) (Round 37, Pick 1124): On the same day his father won his 250th game in Yankees' pinstripes, the younger Pettitte was one of their draft selections. Pretty darn cool, especially when you consider Joshua already made his intentions to honor his commitment to Baylor University. He'll be a Bear next spring, but for a little while he can say he was a member of the same organization as his father.
Los Angeles Dodgers selected Dillon Moyer, shortstop, UC-San Diego (Round 38, Pick 1144): Dad Jamie Moyer never made a stop with the Dodgers throughout his 25-year career. Perhaps it'll be Dillon who eventually works his way into their mix. It'll probably be an uphill battle. After transferring to UC-San Diego this season, he hit only .298 with one homer. Not overwhelming numbers, but as his dad proved time and time again, all one needs is an opportunity.
In addition to the players selected, there were also a few recognizable names that were not. At the top of that list would be the son of Manny Ramirez, Manny Ramirez Jr., who's a high school first baseman out of Florida and was fully expected to be drafted this season. Blaise Maris, grandson of Roger Maris, is another notable player who didn't hear his name called.
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