Bloodlines And Family Trees: Are We Talking About Baseball or The Kentucky Derby?

Like developing thoroughbreds in horse racing, some baseball front offices cherish bloodlines and family trees when scouting and drafting ballplayers hoping for the next Triple Crown Winner. The Los Angeles Dodgers are no exception. Enter Dodgers short stop Corey Seager and outfielder Trayce Thompson, who are currently rumored to be away game roommates. However, the connection between these two goes beyond being roomies. For one, Seager and Thompson both have older brothers in Klay Thompson and Kyle Seager who have excelled in their respective sports.

Klay Thompson is NBA All-Star with the World Champion Golden State Warriors.  Kyle Seager is an All-Star third baseman with the Seattle Mariners who puts up twenty-five home runs and seventy-five plus runs batted in every year, while playing in 159-161 games.  Klay and Kyle are models of consistency and good character. That runs in the family, the apple does not fall far from the tree, etc., you get the picture.

The Dodgers have a history of drafting and developing players whose siblings and/or parents came before them. For example: Joc Pederson and Stu Pederson, Corey Seager, Kyle Seager, and Justin Seager, Preston Mattingly and Don Mattingly, Cody Bellinger and Clay Bellinger, and many more. You can read about similar draft picks here.

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Maybe the family and blood lines drafting strategy will change under new leadership as the Dodgers former Assistant General Manager for Amateur and International Scouting, Logan White, is now the San Diego Padres Senior Advisor and Pro Scouting Director.  Meanwhile, the Dodgers have found some success with “bloodline” and “family-tree” scouting and drafting. This is especially true when we consider the early performances of the younger generation as compared to the shorter careers of their fathers (e.g., Cody Bellinger vs. Clay Bellinger and Joc Pederson vs. Stu Pederson). Corey Seager also projects to be better than his brother Kyle, which we have written about before.

Anytime you have an older sibling, you must carve your own path and make your own name. The most important aspect about the Seager and Thompson brothers and their families is that they have the character make-up to be great and consistently great.

Trayce Thompson is the first baseball player in his family, and may have the skill, opportunity, and character make-up to be a star. Klay Thompson talked about the greatness of his brother, Trayce, in a recent press conference after a Warriors playoff win over the Portland Trailblazers. Klay was referencing Trayce’s moon shot last week that landed in the Tropicana Field rafters and never came down. By doing so, Klay displayed the selfless qualities of being raised in a good family when he took the opportunity to highlight his younger brother as opposed to himself.

Trayce also hit a walk-off homerun in the bottom of the ninth against the New York Mets during the writing of this article (5.10.16). Thank you, Trayce, for the win, pushing the team back into first place, and for making this article exciting and fortuitous while discussing you. Trayce Thompson may be on his way to stardom, but he has a long way to go with playing time an issue. However, Trayce is making the most of his opportunities by playing stellar defense and hitting home runs.

With Thompson, he may start recieving more playing time. We wrote about Thompson previously when discussing the Dodgers depth. Here is an excerpt from that article:

“The 6’3”, 225 lb., twenty-five year old outfielder was acquired in the three-team trade with the Cincinnati Reds and Chicago White Sox during the 2015 offseason. He played in 44 games for the White Sox in 2015 and posted an impressive slash line of five homeruns, sixteen runs batted in, a .295 batting average, with a .896 on base plus slugging percentage. He can play all three outfield positions and averaged 20 homeruns and 80-90 runs batted in while playing in the minor leagues.

In some sense, Thompson matches at least offensively to outfielder [Scott Schebler], whom the Dodgers traded to the Reds in the same Thompson trade. However, Thompson has more easily projected because of his size, speed, and lineage (brothers and basketball players Klay Thompson and Mychal Thompson, father Mychal Thompson, and mother Julie Thompson who played volleyball in college). This awesome swing demonstrates what is he capable of doing in the batters’ box. If it was not clear before, we are very excited about what Thompson can do.”

Let us hope for the best with Trayce Thompson and that he follows in the Championship footsteps of his older brother, Klay.

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Corey Seager has had no shortage of headlines, either. This Los Angeles Times article from April 1, 2016, displays the character and make-up of Seager at an early age. Seager is a highly valued talent that is off to a terrific start for the 2016 Major League Baseball season. Corey Seager comes from a long line of baseball talent and he is currently the Los Angeles Dodgers starting short stop. Seager can be a generational talent and someone who his brother (Kyle Seager) thinks is better than he is.

Here us what we wrote about Corey Seager in March 2016:

“Based on Seager’s minor league numbers, his short season performance in 2015 in the majors, his family lineage and his brother Kyle Seager’s performance, coupled with the longer Major League season . . . We believe that Corey Seager has the character make-up to be great baseball player both on and off the field for a long time. Corey Seager’s older brothers sure think Corey Seager is top notch, which you can read about here, here, and here. As far as comparisons go, we may be just too soon to project that Corey Seager will be like Cal Ripken Jr., Alex Rodriguez, Mike Trout, and Bryce Harper. Carlos Correa is the more likely comparison, but even he has nearly a full year more of service time than Seager. Regardless, many folks are thinking very high on Corey Seager.”

Time will tell if the Dodgers keep drafting from family lines where new boss, President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman, and his staff, make their mark in the scouting and development department. In some sense, the Dodgers are following what horse racing experts have done for years. However, the Dodgers famously missed out on pitcher Pedro Martinez, but signed his older brother Ramon Martinez. Then again, the Dodgers were smart enough to sign Pedro, but lacked foresight when they traded him to the Montreal Expos.

Admittedly, a mistake to trade Pedro Martinez, but count us in at Dodgers Nation in thinking highly of Seager and Thompson. Trayce may be the heir apparent to Scott Van Slyke as a fourth outfielder, or he may be the next superstar. Not every prospect works out for the best.  And who knows if Corey Seager will be the next Cal Ripken, Jr.

What is certain is that family ties and family bloodlines have led to both failures and successes, but utilizing the best tools you have is one way to predict outcomes when drafting baseball players. Corey Seager and Trayce Thompson are just two current examples.

H/T Jon SooHoo, photo

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Jeremy Evans

Jeremy M. Evans is the Founder & Managing Attorney at California Sports Lawyer®, representing entertainment, media, and sports clientele. Evans is an award-winning attorney and industry leader based in Los Angeles.
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