Can The Sons Be Better Than The Fathers?
Baseball has a long history of being a game of fathers and sons. From Ray Boone to Bob Boone to Aaron and Bret Boone. From Ken Griffey Sr. to Ken Griffey Jr., baseball is a sport where sons often follow in the footsteps of their fathers.
Genetics plays a part in sons of big leaguers having professional careers of their own. Growing up around the game and getting top-notch instruction doesn’t hurt either.
Baseball America was first published in 1981, so the magazine has gotten a chance to follow and celebrate the careers of baseball fathers and sons for years, but we’re in an especially fertile time for prodigies who are progeny.
Heading into 2018, as many of four of the top 10 prospects on our Top 100 Prospects ranking will be the sons of former minor leaguers or big leaguers.
As we determine the Top 100 Prospects list, one of the questions we will answer is whether Blue Jays third baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. can equal his father’s No. 2 ranking on the 1997 Baseball America Top 100 Prospects list. It will be another couple of decades before we’ll know if he can match his father’s Hall of Fame-caliber career, but there’s no doubt that the Guerreros are already the best father-son prospects of the BA era.
Blue Jays shortstop Bo Bichette will also rank very high on the upcoming Top 100. Bichette is already a better prospect than his father, long-time Rockies outfielder Dante Bichette. But the elder Bichette can point out that he never got a chance to crack a Top 100. Our first Top 100 wasn’t announced until 1990. Bichette was the No. 4 prospect in the California Angels’ system before the 1989 season.
In fact, Dante Bichette ranked one spot ahead of righthander (and future Marlins closer) Bryan Harvey on that Angels’ Top 10. Now Bryan Harvey’s son Hunter, a righthander for the Orioles, has already made one Top 100 (No. 68 in 2014) and could crack it again if he can show he can stay healthy after a string of injury issues.
Ronald Acuna’s father Ron, an outfielder, didn’t ever make a top 10, but he did play more than a decade in the minors. The younger Acuna has already exceeded his father as a prospect, something his Top 100 Prospects ranking will only solidify.
Padres shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. skyrocketed up our rankings with a breakout season in 2017. His father Fernando Sr. never made a Top 100, but he did rank No. 2 for the Rangers in 1997.
Those four are among the top prospects in all of baseball, but they aren’t the only notable sons. Twins shortstop Nick Gordon is looking to make his fourth Top 100. His half-brother Dee peaked at No. 26 on the 2011 list. Like the Bichettes, father Tom can’t compare Top 100 rankings. Tom would have ranked high in 1989, when he ranked fourth among all righthanded pitching prospects—but we at BA were one year away from turning position rankings into a full-blown Top 100 Prospects.
The list goes on as you scan the team Top 10s we have published in each issue. Padres righthander Cal Quantrill is following in the path blazed by father Paul Quantrill, who had a 14-year big league career of his own. Bichette and Guerrero were teammates at high Class A Dunedin with Cavan Biggio, son of Astros second baseman Craig Biggio.
All of those father-son pairings span the Baseball America era. But as we’ve sent another Prospect Handbook to the printer, we’re excited to have reached another milestone.
Birthed in 2001 at the turn of the 21st Century, the Prospect Handbook ranks the Top 30 Prospects in each organization and reviews the state of each farm system. The book has now been around long enough to have spanned generations.
In our first Prospect Handbook, then 21-year-old, switch-hitting shortstop Cesar Izturis ranked No. 3 on our Blue Jays Top 30 Prospects list after spending the 2000 season at Triple-A Syracuse. He went on to have a 13-year big league career that stretched from 2001 to 2013.
This year, 18-year-old, switch-hitting second baseman Cesar Izturis Jr. is the Mariners’ No. 31 prospect coming off a season he spent in the Dominican Summer League. We publish a supplement that ranks one additional prospect—No. 31—for each organization, but you can only acquire the supplement if you order the Handbook directly from BA.
Izturis Jr. has a little more work to do in 2018 to break into the proper Prospect Handbook, so there is still the opportunity for the first true father-son Prospect Handbook pairing.
Given the current trends, we know we won’t have long to wait.
All-Time Baseball America No. 1 Prospects
Here are the all-time No. 1 Baseball America prospects, including 2019 No. 1 Vladimir Guerrero Jr. As an added bonus, we've included who was No. 2 each year as well.