By Richard Cuicchi
As kids, brothers sometimes miss the opportunity to grow up as baseball teammates, usually because their age difference is more than three or four years. That situation usually carries over as teenagers when they get to high school or college. Yet if they have dreams of eventually playing professionally, one of their fantasies is often that they can play alongside each other on baseball’s biggest stage.
Brothers talented enough to be selected in MLB drafts or signed as international players crave the opportunity for their fantasy to materialize. But the odds are against them. There have been only about 400 sets of brothers that reached the majors. That’s out of over 23,000 players to ever appear in the big leagues. So, when brothers reach the majors, it usually makes the headlines.
According to MLB.com, there were nearly 100 sets of brothers to play as teammates before the start of the 2023 season. It’s been another active year for brothers in the major leagues in 2023. The trend for family relationships, including father-son combos, seems to be growing. Even though all of this season’s brother pairs haven’t ended up as teammates--at least for now—it’s still a rare event even when they suit up on opposing sides.
Below is background information for big league brothers this season:
Taylor and Tyler Rogers, only the tenth set of twins to play in the majors, now pitch for the San Francisco Giants following the acquisition of Taylor as a free agent over the winter. They took very different paths to the majors. They played at different colleges and were drafted four years apart. Taylor made his debut with the Twins in 2016, while Tyler debuted with the Giants in 2013. They have been key members of one of the most effective bullpens in the National League this season.
Josh and Bo Naylor had been first-round picks in 2015 and 2018, respectively. They are currently teammates with the Cleveland Guardians and celebrated together when Bo recorded his first major league hit on June 21. Josh had a 4-for-4 day, including a home run. Bo scored the winning run in a 7-6 win against Oakland. They have a younger brother Myles who was drafted in the first round in 2023 by the A’s.
Nathaniel and Josh Lowe had visions of playing together in the majors when they both started out in the Tampa Bay Rays organization. They became teammates in the minors, for parts of 2017 and 2018, but Nathaniel was traded to the Texas Rangers after the 2020 season before Josh made the Rays big league club in 2021. They became opponents for the first time on June 10, exchanging their club’s lineup cards at home plate before the game. Josh had the better day at the plate, going 2-for-4, while Nathaniel went hitless and struck out three times in the Rangers’ 8-4 win.
Curacao natives Richie and Joshua Palacios had previously played as teammates in winter ball in Puerto Rico and naturally jumped at the chance to play together for the Netherlands in the World Baseball Classic in March. On August 21 they had the opportunity to face off as opponents for the first time in the majors--Richie with St. Louis and Joshua with Pittsburgh. Joshua paced the Pirates’ 11-1 win with a home run and a double as he drove in five runs. Richie got a pinch-hit single. Richie provided the power the next day with a solo home run in another Pirates loss while Joshua went hitless.
David and Dominic Fletcher had also appeared as teammates in the WBC in March, playing for the Italian entry. David is a six-year veteran with the Los Angeles Angels, while Dominic made his major-league debut on April 30 with Arizona. They played against each other for the first time in the majors on July 1, in Anaheim Stadium where they had watched plenty of games as youngsters. Dominic hit an RBI single while David went hitless in the D’backs’ win. The milestone was especially meaningful for the brothers, as their father had died suddenly earlier in the month.
Ramon and Luis Urias grew up in a Mexican town known for its baseball heritage. Even though Ramon was three years older than Luis, he took special care to pass on his knowledge of the game. His efforts paid off. Luis made his major-league debut with San Diego in 2018, while Ramon broke in with Baltimore two years later. They faced each other in the majors for the first time on June 6 when the Orioles opposed the Milwaukee Brewers. However, it wasn’t a good day for either brother. Ramon struck out four times for the Brewers, while Luis fanned twice in the Brewers’ 4-3 victory.
Gus Varland made his major-league debut with the Milwaukee Brewers on the first day of the 2023 season, joining his brother Louie who is in his second season with the Minnesota Twins. The right-handed pitchers had played together for Concordia University. Gus is now with the Los Angeles Dodgers, but they haven’t had the chance to play against each other.
Parker Meadows made his major league debut for the Detroit Tigers on August 21. His brother Austin started the season with the Tigers but has been on the Injured List since the first week of April. The brothers will have to wait until next season to play together.
June 21 wasn’t a good day for brothers Tylor and Trevor Megill, as both were demoted to the minors on the same day. Tylor is in his third season as a starter with the New York Mets, while Trevor is in his third season as a reliever with the Milwaukee Brewers. The good news is that both returned to the majors about a month later. They have yet to oppose each other in a game.
Willson and William Contreras made national headlines last year as starters on the National League All-Star team. Wilson represented the Chicago Cubs, while Wilson played for the Atlanta Braves. They are both with new teams this season—William with the Milwaukee Brewers and Willson suiting up for the St. Louis Cardinals. They played against each other six times in 2023. William held the edge in hits, 5 to 3.
Phil and Nick Maton played in the same game on April 3, when Phil’s Houston Astros opposed Nick’s Detroit Tigers. However, Phil, an Astros middle reliever, did not have an opportunity to face his brother in the game won by the Tigers, 7-6. The first time they faced each other occurred in 2022 when Nick got a single.
Other brother combos who have appeared in the majors in 2023 include Aaron and Austin Nola, Yuli and Lourdes Gurriel, Jimmy and Peter Lambert, and Nick and Zack Burdi. New York Mets relief pitcher Edwin Diaz suffered a season-ending injury in WBC competition before the major-league season started, while his brother Alexis currently plays for the Cincinnati Reds.
Richard Cuicchi has been a SABR member since 1983. He has contributed to over 25 SABR BioProject and Games Project books. He writes about New Orleans baseball history for CrescentCitySorts.com. He maintains the Baseball Relatives website where he posts annual compilations of baseball’s family relationships in the majors and minors. He writes a weekly blog post for his TheTenthInning.com website.