MLB history is filled with tremendous second-generation stars. We’ve seen the likes of Barry Bonds and Ken Griffey Jr. follow their All-Star fathers to stardom. The current crop of players has its fair share of players who are at least on their way to doing the same.
The Toronto Blue Jays seem to have a real eye for it. Three of their top prospects are all sons of former MLB stars. One of them is about to make his MLB debut. The San Diego Padres have gotten a great Major League glimpse at a second generation star all season. Meanwhile, a Los Angeles Dodgers star has already eclipsed his father statistically, but still has a ways to go before he can match his dad in the jewelry department.
Each of these second generation players have a legacy to live up to. And all have created their own legacy in MLB, or are on their way towards doing so.
10. Neil Walker, first baseman, Miami Marlins
Walker’s father, Todd, will forever be connected to one of baseball’s saddest moments. He was supposed to be on Roberto Clemente’s ill fated flight on New Year’s Eve, 1972. But the flight was full and he did not make the trip. Todd pitched in MLB from 1972-1977. Neil broke into the league in 2009, won the Silver Slugger in 2014 and is a career .267/.338/.429 hitter with 144 career home runs. It appears Walker’s career is winding down. But he’s had a nice run over the last decade.
9. Cavan Biggio, second baseman, Toronto Blue Jays
Biggio hit .252/.388/.499 in Double-A last season. What really stands out is the .388 OBP despite hitting only .252. Nobody in MLB history has been hit by more pitches than Cavan’s father, Craig. He knew how to reach base even if he wasn’t swinging. It’s a trait his son shares. Cavan also belted 26 home runs in only 449 at-bats a season ago. So, he’s a pest with power. In 2019, Biggio is hitting .415/.500/.642 with three home runs in Triple-A. He’s yet to make his MLB debut, but it should just be a matter of time.
8. Ke’Bryan Hayes, third baseman, Pittsburgh Pirates
Hayes, whose father Charlie was a big league infielder for more than a decade, has yet to debut in the majors. But he’s shown good signs in the minors. In 2017, he stole 27 bases. Players with speed can almost always find a place in the majors. As far as what kind of a hitter Hayes is, he hit.293/.375/.444 in Double-A in 2018. The year before, he hit .278/.345/.363 in High-A. There’s no way of knowing for sure how well a player will handle the majors. But improving numbers through higher levels of the minors is a great sign.
7. Dee Gordon, second baseman, Seattle Mariners
Tom Gordon had a career that spanned more than 20 years. Dee doesn’t yet have his dad’s longevity. But he has his own strong legacy in the game. Gordon has led MLB in steals three times. While we tend to associate the two-time All-Star with his speed, he’s far from a one-trick pony. Gordon has also won a batting championship, a Silver Slugger, and a Gold Glove in his career. Excluding Walker, Gordon is more of a finished product than anyone on the list. So, we can’t boast about Gordon’s potential. But he’s already achieved a great deal in baseball.
6. Dereck Rodriguez, starting pitcher, San Francisco Giants
Rodriguez didn’t enter MLB with a great deal of hype in 2018. But he’s already made a good name for himself. He posted a 2.81 ERA and 1.132 WHIP in 19 starts and 21 outings in 2018. The early returns on his sophomore season (3.54 ERA, 1.000 WHIP) are quite positive, as well. Rodriguez isn’t a classic strikeout pitcher. And especially in this era, that will hurt a pitcher’s hype. That said, pitching is as much about keeping hitters off balance and weakening the contact that does come. Rodriguez has already shown a strong aptitude for that. That will serve Ivan’s son well in his MLB career.
5. Bo Bichette, shortstop, Toronto Blue Jays
Dante Bichette was a power hitter who had some speed. His son is the opposite. Bo nabbed 32 bases in 2018 and 22 the year before. But he also hit 14 homers in 2017 (a season in which he hit .362/.423/.565 between two levels) and added 11 in 2018. He’s also only 21, well short of a hitter’s typical peak power years. So, more home run productivity should well be coming. A broken hand will probably keep Bichette in the minors until we get a little deeper into the season. But like Biggio (and especially one other second generation Blue Jays prospect), it won’t be too long until he is called up.
4. Adalberto Mondesi, shortstop, Kansas City Royals
Mondesi swiped 32 bases on only 75 games in 2018 and has already stolen seven bags in 2019. But while his speed his the first thing that jumps out, Mondesi also put up a .498 slugging percentage last year and is at .479 in 2019. The wheels have obviously helped Mondesi turn singles into doubles and doubles into triples. But he also hit 14 homers in those 75 games last year and already has two this season. So, he’s got some of the pop that served his father, Raul, so well. That, combined with a flashy glove, gives us a lot to be excited about going forward.
3. Vladimir Guerrero Jr., third baseman, Toronto Blue Jays
Guerrero will make his MLB debut on Friday. Apparently the Toronto organization feels that he’s finally ready. Or maybe everyone in the front office has realized that Guerrero has done everything he can. Whatever the reason for it, Guerrero’s MLB promotion is not coming a moment too soon. He made a mockery of Minor League pitching in 2018 and has done the same thing in 2019. Now it’s time to see if he be a star at the Major League level, something his Hall of Fame father clearly knows a thing or two about.
2. Fernando Tatis Jr., shortstop, San Diego Padres
Tatis gets a slight nod over Guerrero because we’ve already seen what he can do in the majors. And while he hasn’t been in the league long, Tatis has made strong early impressions in the show. He’s hitting .299/.361/.586, has shown good power with six homers, added five steals, and has shown himself pretty nifty with the glove. We doubt that the Padres are regretting the decision to promote Tatis before the season. His father broke into the bigs in 1997 and played until 2010. Given that Tatis is only 20, his career could last much longer than his old man’s.
1. Cody Bellinger, right fielder, Los Angeles Dodgers
Bellinger, son of three-time World Series champ Clay, turned heads in 2017. He set a National League Rookie record for home runs in the season en route to the Rookie of the Year Award. Now, two years later, he’s even better. The power is obviously a headline grabber. But Bellinger also runs very well and is a solid defender. What’s even more scary is that Bellinger is actually younger than multiple players here, including Biggio, who’s yet to play a day in the majors. So, he’s an established name, but will be around for quite some time.