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Ogden Raptors players carry on the family business

Published July 5, 2013 11:42 am

Five Ogden Raptors players are sons of former MLB players
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Damon Berryhill knows the names.

Hershiser, Moyer, Santana, Babitt, Valentin.

Berryhill competed with or against them during a 10-year career in Major League Baseball.

Yet these are different versions. They are younger, fearless copies of their fathers, and it gives Berryhill pause as he contemplates the merging of past and future.

"I knew these guys when they were nothin' — 9-year-olds running around — and now they're in pro ball," said Berryhill, manager of the Ogden Raptors. But "just because their parents were big leaguers doesn't mean they're off and running."

There's a reason why Jordan Hershiser, Dillon Moyer, Alex Santana, Zach Babitt and Jesmuel Valentin are in the Pioneer League, the ground floor of professional baseball. Right now, they have only potential, which has yet to be molded. To Berryhill, they are no different than the other Raptors whose parents aren't quite as well-known.

Realistically, it will be a success for the Los Angeles Dodgers if one of these five draft picks eventually wears a big-league uniform.

"There's a lot to be learned," said Berryhill, former teammate of recently retired pitcher Jamie Moyer, who won 269 games in the majors.

The family connection in baseball is strong. There have been more than 200 sons who have successfully followed their fathers to the big leagues.

"People ask me, 'Oh, do you think you have your dad's talent?' " said the 23-year-old Hershiser, a 34th-round draft pick in 2012 out of USC. His father, Orel, won a Cy Young and World Series MVP for the Dodgers in 1988. "Maybe when I win 200 games in the big leagues, then I'll say I have my dad's talent. Until then, he'll be better than I am."

Hershiser, injured in college, was drafted on potential and pedigree.

"And a great work ethic. I really root for him," said Orel Hershiser, a baseball analyst for ESPN. "It's not a thing that makes me feel old. It's just a great experience for him and a great time to grow up.

"It's nice to know there are people looking after him. It's not like he went off to New York to become a bonds trader. I'm really just a dad. I ask him how its going. … 'Do you need any money?' "

Dad's best advice? "Work hard. Don't waste days," Jordan said.

Of the five, Valentin, 19, enjoyed the highest draft selection, taken 51st overall in 2012. Santana, 19, was a second-round pick in 2011. Babitt, 23, went in the 10th round of 2012, while Moyer, 21, was a 38th-round draft choice in 2013.

Jamie Moyer retired in 2012 at age 49, maybe holding out for a chance to play with his son. It's happened twice before, most notably with Ken Griffey and Ken Griffey Jr. for Seattle in 1990.

"He was trying to hang on," Dillon said. "Maybe he'll develop a knuckleball. He was pretty excited when he heard Damon was going to be my manager."

Even more excitement was experienced by the fathers the day their sons were drafted.

"The dude was crying and I was just enjoying the moment," Santana said about his father Rafael, a shortstop who played for seven seasons and is now the Latin American coordinator for the Chicago White Sox. "He doesn't get too excited."

"He just went to the floor crying," Valentin said about his dad, Jose, an infielder who played 16 seasons, eight with Milwaukee. Jose Valentin finished his career with more than 1,300 hits and 249 home runs.

Jose Valentin now manages at Single-A Fort Wayne in the Midwestern League. In a surreal moment for both, for a few games earlier this season, father and son were in opposing dugouts when Jesmuel spent some time with the Great Lakes Loons in Midland, Mich.

"It was tough for me to see my son playing on the other side and manage against him," the elder Valentin said. "It's hard to see my son fail. It was emotional at times.

"I have to realize that he has his own job and his own life. I cannot go out there. I cannot hit for him."

If possible, father wanted son to do well, but not at the expense of Fort Wayne. Let him get hits, but with the bases empty.

"When we looked at each other, we were a little bit in shock," Jesmuel said.

To a man, the Raptor players agreed that the experience of having been in major league clubhouses is an advantage. They experienced the right — and wrong — way to conduct themselves, how to prepare to play.

They're not wide-eyed youngsters experiencing professional baseball. Even the eight-hour bus rides are not new, having played either on amateur or college teams.

Still, "it varies," Berryhill said. "Some kids come to pro ball more mature than others. Once they're here, they're treated like anyone else."

Of the five, only Zach Babitt never saw his father Mack "Shooty" Babitt play professionally. Babitt managed to play 54 games in the big leagues for the Oakland Athletics in 1981 and is now a scout for the New York Mets.

"I've seen maybe five minutes of highlight tapes of my dad playing," said Zach, who carries his father's baseball card in his wallet. Making it to the big leagues is the dream, but some things mean more than others.

"I used to feel pressure when I was younger, certain expectations to live up to by others," Zach said, echoing the sentiments of his four teammates. "My father, even when I was playing college ball, always told me how proud he was of me. He never went to college, so he was proud of that. He told me, 'I don't care if you never get another hit, you have no idea how proud your dad is of you.'

"I try to go out every day and try to represent my family and make my father proud." Raptors and their famous fathers


Mack "Shooty" Babitt • 1977 25th-round draft choice of Oakland Athletics. Infielder played 54 games in 1981, .256 average.

Orel Hershiser • 1979 17th-round draft choice of Los Angeles Dodgers. Pitcher made MLB debut in 1983, played 18 seasons, 204-150, 3.48 ERA. Won 1988 Cy Young.

Rafael Santana • Signed by New York Yankees as an amateur free agent in 1979. Infielder made MLB debut in 1983. Played seven seasons, .246 average, 497 career hits.

Jamie Moyer • 1984 sixth-round draft choice of Chicago Cubs. Pitcher made MLB debut in 1986. Played 25 seasons, 269-209. Won 20 games twice.

Jose Valentin • Signed by San Diego Padres as an amateur free agent in 1986. Infielder made MLB debut in 1992. Played 16 seasons, .243 average, 249 HRs, 816 RBIs.


Zach Babitt • Age 23. Infielder was a 2012 10th-round draft choice from Academy of Arts University, San Francisco.

Jordan Hershiser • Age 23. Pitcher was a 2012 34th-round draft choice from USC.

Alex Santana • Age 19. Infielder was 2011 second-round draft from Mariner High School, Cape Coral, Fla.

Dillon Moyer • Age 21. Infielder was 2013 38th-round draft choice from UC San Diego.

Jesmuel Valentin • Age 19. Infielder was 2012 first-round draft choice from Puerto Rico Baseball Academy.






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