Tuesday, June 30, 2015

2007 Bowman, Ole Sheldon

#BC142 Ole Sheldon

Here is another card that I got signed at a Winguts game. I got this one signed in 2009 while Ole was with the St. Paul Saints.

Ole was drafted by the Astros in the 14th round of the 2004 draft out of Oklahoma. He played in the Astros system for five seasons, reaching as high as AA in 2008. He put up good numbers every season he played after his Rookie ball campaign and never hit below .280 at any other level. In 2006, the year before this card came out, he hit .328 in the South Atlantic League before making the jump to the Carolina League, where he hit .292 the rest of the season.

He then repeated High-A the next year and hit .298 in just 56 games. He must have got hurt that season because that was all of the games he played that year. Nevertheless, he was bumped up to AA for 2008 and he responded with a .282 average with 13 home runs and 55 RBI in the hitter friendly Texas League. After that season, the Astros let Ole walk and he ended up with the Saints in 2009.

He did get sold to the Indians that season and he hit .267 with their High-A team before getting released at the end of the year. That was the end of Ole's career in affiliated ball.

If I remember correctly, Ole's name is pronounced like Ollie.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

2007 Bowman, Gregory Porter

#BC112 Greg Porter

Here is the first of three cards signed by Greg Porter from his time in the American Association. All three cards are some sort of a 2007 Bowman. This one was signed at the Am-Ass All Star Game that was held in Wichita in 2010. Greg was playing for the Grand Prairie AirHogs at the time.

Greg Porter was a stud in the Am-Ass and was a joy to watch. He played for Wichita for a season and a half and he absolutely tore up the league with them in 2009. In 95 games, Greg hit .372 with 21 home runs and 86 RBI. He was the first big-time player the Nuts had and was a huge part in helping to build the team into the franchise that it is today. He won the batting title that seasons and was named the MVP of the league and Baseball America's Independent Player of the Year. It was quite a season.

But, being an independent league, the Nuts traded Greg to Grand Prairie during the offseason so Greg could be close to home.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

2007 Bowman, Desmond Jennings

#BP106 Desmond Jennings

Here is a card that I got signed at the 2009 Futures Game in St. Louis. At that point, this was the only card of Desmond that I could get my hands on to take with me.

Desmond made his Major League debut the next season when he was a September call-up for the Rays. He got the start on the first day of September and went 0-3 with a strikeout against the Blue Jays. He got his first hit ten days later and finished that first month hitting .190.

He started 2011 in AAA before getting the call in July. He got off to a blistering start for his second go-around in the Majors. After a 2 for 3 day for his first start, he went on to have multi-hit games game in five of his first six games that year. That sixth game was a 3 for 4 game where he had four RBI and hit his first Major League home run. He went on to finish the season hitting .259 with 10 home runs and 25 RBI in just 63 games.

He would be an everyday player for the Rays after that season and has put up consistent numbers every year. He usually hits about .250 with 10-14 home runs and about 50 RBI. He did knock in 64 runs in 2013, his best total to date.

Things took a turn for the worse this year, though, when Desmond was battling some knee soreness. He missed some games before being put on the disabled list in May. He tried to rehab the knee, but ended up having surgery on it earlier this month. As of right now, there is no timetable for his return.

Desmond was hitting .222 before the surgery.

Friday, June 26, 2015

2007 Bowman, Gabriel Medina

#BP87 Gabriel Medina

Now that the College World Series is over, it is back to my normal posting schedule. I am already looking forward to next year's contest, though.

Here is a card that I got signed at a Wichita Wingnuts game in 2010. Gabe was pitching for the Nuts that season and I was able to get a couple of these signed during the course of the year.

Gabe was drafted by the Yankees in 15th round of the 2006 draft out of Emporia State, a school just down the road from me. He played in the Yankees system for three seasons, never advancing above A ball. He finished his affiliated career with a 9-6 record with 2 saves and a 3.94 ERA.

After getting released by the Yankees, Gabe joined the Wingnuts and pitched for them for two seasons. With the Nuts, he went 13-12 with a 4.80 ERA. Gabe's final season was 2010.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

College World Series Contest Final Results

I have been meaning to post this for the past two days, so here it finally is. After counting and recounting to make sure everything is correct, it is time to announce the winner of the College World Series Contest. This year's winner is Superduperman99!

I know the CWS is still being played, but it doesn't matter. Nobody picked Virginia to even be in the finals. Three people picked Vanderbilt to be in and they all picked them to win in three games. This contest has been over since Saturday night, but I have just been too busy to tally and post.

It was a close finish this year. Greg Z had the best bracket with nine points heading into the finals. Unfortunately, he did not pick too well in phase one. Superduperman and B Man each had eight points heading into the finals. But, Superduper edged out Bman by picking two seed Arkansas to head to Omaha. That pick won it for him.

Superduperman- Email me your address to zman40 at hotmail dot com and I will get your prizes mailed out to you as soon as possible.

Thanks to all that entered. I hope to see you all back next year!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

College World Series Contest Prizes

Here is the majority of the prizes for this year's CWS Contest. The prizes consist of 8x10s signed by Dave Winfield, Curt Schilling, and Frank Thomas. I may also throw in a pack of Series 2 or Archives and there may be an added prize that I throw in a month later. But, that remains to be seen. Just expect these three photos and a pack of cards.

As for as the tourney, Vanderbilt is in the finals. Florida and Virginia are duking it out right now with Virginia with the late lead. If they hang on to win, this contest is already done. If Florida comes back, the contest will then be done. Three people picked Vandy in the finals and all three picked them to win it. Nobody picked Virginia or Florida to win. So, barring a tie, the contest will wrap up tonight. I haven't taken the time to tally points, so a tie is still a possibility. My family is taking me to Kansas City tomorrow for Father's Day. If I get back at a decent time, I will post the results. Otherwise, I will post them tomorrow.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

2007 Bowman, Will Venable

#BP84 Will Venable

Here is a card of Will Venable that I got signed in Salt Lake City in 2008. Will was playing AAA ball for the now defunct Portland Beavers at the time. He signed this lone card for me prior to the start of the game.

Will made his Major League debut a couple of months after signing this card and he has been a mainstay in the Padres outfield ever since. He has spent most of his time playing right field, but not this season. This year, he has predominantly played center with Will Myers hurt for much of the season.

Will is a career .252 hitter at this point in his career. His best season came in 2013 when he had career highs in average (.268), home runs (22), and RBI (53). Will was also a stolen base threat for a bit, swiping 20+ bags for four straight seasons. He seems to have tailed off on attempted steals over the past couple of seasons, though.

Will is currently hitting .258 with 5 home runs and 18 RBI. He is the son of former Major Leaguer Max Venable and he played his college ball at Princeton.

Speaking of college ball, Miami got eliminated yesterday. LSU and TCU square off again today with the loser going home. There will then be four teams left in Omaha- Vanderbilt, Florida, and Virginia. Nobody picked Virginia to make it to the finals.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

2007 Bowman, Neal Musser

#BP70 Neal Muuser

Here is a card that I got signed at Royals Fanfest in 2009. It is kind of strange that Neal was even at Fanfest that year. For starters, he only appeared in one Major League game the previous season. Then, about a month after Fanfest, Neal got released by the Royals really early on in Spring Training.

Unlike some of the guys that I have got to sign their 2007 Bowman cards, Neal did get a little bit of big league service time. He made his Major League debut with the Royals in 2007. That season, he got into 17 games and went 0-1 with a 4.38 ERA. He struck out 19 and walked 14. Neal then pitched one scoreless inning in 2008 and that was the extent of his Major League career.

After that season, he spent some time with the Astros AAA team and the independent Lancaster Barnstormers. He retired after the 2010 season.

I only saw Neal pitch one time with the Royals and it was not a good outing. In one inning of work, Neal gave up four runs on four hits to the A's. The Royals were already down 12-3 when they brought Neal in and then bad went to worse.

On the College World Series front, two team have been sent home. I hope nobody had Arkansas or Cal St. Fullerton making it to the finals.

Monday, June 15, 2015

2007 Bowman, Jeremy Papelbon

#BP6 Jeremy Papelbon

Here is the next card from 2007 Bowman and it features minor leaguer Jeremy Papelbon. I got this card signed by him at the 2010 Rickwood Classic in Birmingham, Alabama.

The Rickwood Classic always features a former ballplayer to throw out the first pitch and to sign autographs during the game. I got lucky the year I went as Harmon Killebrew was that guy. While the pregame introductions were going on before the game, Jeremy Papelbon made sure to go out on the field and get a ball signed by Harmon. He signed my card shortly afterwards and I asked him if he was a collector or if he just wanted Harmon's autograph. He told me he is a collector. It is always good to see someone that plays the game is also a fan of the game as well.

My friend, Dustin, just happened to snap a picture of Jeremy right after he signed for me.

I got back from the College World Series yesterday and it was kind of a disappointing weekend. We had planned on going to two games, one of Saturday and one on Sunday. We went to the Florida/Miami game Saturday evening and that ended up being the only game we attended. We intended to see the TCU/LSU game yesterday. We got to the park early to buy tickets for the game. Unfortunately, I had forgotten how well LSU fans traveled. There was no chance of us buying reserved seats from the box office with so many Tiger fans in Omaha. We did not want to do general admission for the game, so I did a few laps around the park and parking lots hoping to find someone with tickets to the game. All I could find were the usual scalpers that were wanting at least $75 a ticket. I was not about to drop that kind of money for a first round game, so we decided not to go. My wife was not feeling too well as it was, so it was probably best we only went to one game.

The worst part of the weekend, though, were the autograph lines. Those things have always been a little iffy as to what you can get signed. Sometimes they will sign anything, sometimes just the provided 8x10s. You just never know. This year, they had Curt Schilling, Dave Winfield, and Frank Thomas signing autographs. All three of them would only sign the 8x10s. I was hoping to add some new signed cards by a couple of Hall of Famers to my collection, but it did not happen.

And, as if that was not bad enough, I had the number one draft pick, Dansby Swanson, one on one Friday and he told me he couldn't sign at that time. It was just an overall bummer on the 'graphing front.

But, I got some cool 8x10s signed to be given out for the contest. I will post them later on this week so people can see what they are competing for.

On the bright side, we did get to see Florida tie a CWS record by scoring 11 runs in one inning. You do not see that every year in Omaha.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

College World Series Contest, Phase 2

In case you haven't noticed, I've been running a little contest here for the past two weeks that revolves around the College World Series. Nine people have already entered and have a tiny head start. But, it is not too late to get in on the action. There are plenty more points to be earned and no one is even close to locking this thing up yet. So here is all you have to do- fill out a College World Series bracket.

Keep in mind that this bracket is nothing like filling out a March Madness bracket. The reason for that is because of the loser's bracket. But, I am going to try to make this as simple as I can. Here is my homemade bracket. Click on it to hopefully see a bigger view.

Here is a how the bracket breaks down. There are two groups in the bracket- A and B. Each group has six games in it. All you have to do is guess who is going to win each of the games as they advance towards the championship round.

For instance, group A has Arkansas and Virginia squaring off in game 1 and Florida and Miaimi going in game 2. Pick who is going to win each of those games and then those two teams will square off in game 3. The losers of games 1 and 2 will then square off in game 4. Then, the loser in game 3 plays the winner of game 4 in game 5.

At that point, there will be one team left in the group that is 2-0 (winner of game 3) and one that is 2-1 (winner of game 5). Those two teams play in game 6, which is an elimination game. If the 2-0 team loses, they play a game 7 and the winner advances to the championship. If the 2-0 team wins game 6, they go straight to the championship without game 7. BUT, for the sake of this bracket, I am going to count games 6 and 7 as one game. Just pick who you think is going to advance. It doesn't matter how they do it. I call it game 6/7.

After that, you should have a team advancing out of group A. Do the same for group B. Those two teams are your final teams. In the CWS, they play a best of three series for the championship. Pick who you think will win it all and if they will win it in two games or three. Then, for a tie breaker, guess how many runs will be scored in the championship series (the final two or three games).

It might be easier for you to fill it out on paper first. But to enter the contest, leave a comment looking something similar to this.

A1 Virginia
A2 Miami
A3 Miami
A4 Florida
A5 Florida
A6/7 Miami

B2 Vandy
B4 Fullerton
B5 Vandy
B6/7 Vandy

Vandy over Miami
3 games
16 runs

For the sake of the tie breaker, DO NOT pick a number already chosen by someone else. Even if your teams do not make it to the finals, the tiebreaker will still apply to you in the event of a tie.

If you guess every game right, including how many games will be played in the finals, you can come out with 22 points. As for the prizes, I haven't figured that out yet. It will probably mostly consist of stuff brought home from Omaha.

The CWS begins at 3:00 PM, eastern, on Saturday, June 13. So, all entries must be in by that point. If you have any questions at all, feel free to email me at zman40 at hotmail dot com. Or, just ask in the comments.

Here are the standings through Phase 1

Lost Collector: 5
Greg Z: 1
Wilson: 2
Jeff: 2
Brandon: 4
BMan: 6
Play at Plate: 4
Keith: 5
SuperDuper: 7

This thing is anybody's to win. Good luck!

If you think I might have made an error in the scoring, just let me know. I will be happy to look into it.

Friday, June 5, 2015

2007 Bowman, Sean Doolittle

#BDPP84 Sean Doolittle

Yes, this baby-faced first baseman is in fact the bearded A's closer. Sean began his pro career playing first. In three minor league seasons, he hit .272 with 30 home runs and 138 RBI. His best season was with the Stockton Ports in 2008. That year, he had 18 dingers while batting .305 with 61 home runs. Sean started 2009 in AAA, but hurt his knee and missed most of the season and all of 2010 recovering from two knee surgeries. When he was ready in 2011, he came back as a pitcher and gave up hitting.

It worked out alright for the A's as Sean was able to make to the Majors in 2012. He has worked exclusively out of the bullpen and he slid his way into the closer role last season, notching 22 saves for the club. In his first three seasons, Sean was 9-10 with 25 saves and a 2.95 ERA. Plus, he has struck out 211 batters in just 180 innings.

Sean is currently on the disabled list for the A's and has only pitched in one Major League game this year.

I got this card signed in 2008 while at a game in Lancaster, California. Sean was with the visiting Stockton Ports. You can see a little scribble above his "S" on the card. That is where Josh Horton started to sign the card before he realized it wasn't his card. That was actually the second time that happened on that road trip.

Since this is the last card that I got signed in Lancaster, here are some pics of the ballpark. Its defining feature is the jet outside the main entrance.

Lancaster is located right by Edwards Air Force Base. That is where the team name comes from. Edwards was the main back-up landing strip for the space shuttles and shuttles help hold up the scoreboard.

Here is a pic of Sean batting.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

2007 Bowman, Jarrod Parker

#BDPP58 Jarrod Parker

This is a card that I got signed at the Future's game in 2009 while Jarrod was a farmhand for the Diamondbacks. This was the only card I had of him at the time and he signed it prior to the game. That Futures Game in St. Louis was pretty crazy by my 'graphing standards. There were a ton of people there early hoping to get some 'graphs of some up-and-comers. I got there at least a half hour before the gates opened and there had to have been at least forty people in line in front of me at the gate I entered. By the time I got in the park, the closest I could get to the field was the second row, and I still did pretty good from there. I surprisingly did a lot better in St. Louis than I did in Kansas City three years later.

My biggest pet peeve about St. Louis was the ushers. People were packed into the lower seating area by the dugouts hoping to get autographs two hours before gametime. But, if someone actually had tickets in that section, they would make the masses of people move so that two people with tickets that had zero interest in autographs could sit in their seat and eat a hot dog with a throng of people all around them. It was absolutely asinine. They could have waited thirty minutes and had their dog ten rows higher. It would have pissed less people off and the hot dog eaters would have been much more comfortable.

Jarrod has pitched two full seasons with the A's since they acquired him in a trade prior to the 2012 season. In those two seasons, Jarrod won at least 12 games while keeping his ERA under 4 and striking out at least 130 batters. Unfortunately though, he missed all of last season after having his second Tommy John surgery. He was rehabbing in the minors this year to make his comeback, but ended up fracturing a bone in his elbow. That required another surgery and Jarrod is still on the 60 day disabled list. As far as I can tell, there is no timetable for his return at this point.

On the college baseball front, all of the Super Regional teams are known. The Super Regionals are a single two out of three series with the winner advancing to Omaha. For all of the CWS contest entrants, here are the teams you still have that could possibly land you a point for the first phase.

Brandon- Missouri St, Miami, Florida, LSU, Texas A&M, Vandy, Louisville
BMan- Miami, FSU, LSU, TCU, Vandy, Fullerton
Lost Collector- Arkansas, Miami, LSU, Fullerton
Greg- VCU, FSU, Fullerton
PatP- Miami, LSU, TCU, Vandy
Wilson- Missouri St, Miami, FSU
Jeff- Florida, Vandy
Keith- Arkansas, Florida, TCU, Vandy
SuperDuper- Arkansas, Miami, Florida, LSU, TCU, Vandy

Monday, June 1, 2015

2007 Bowman, Mike Moustakas

#BDPP53 Mike Moustakas

Here is a card of current Royal, and potential American League All Star Game starting third baseman, Mike Moustakas. I got this card signed by him back in 2009 while he was with the Wilmington Blue Rocks. That fall, I went to the Baltimore area to visit a friend and I made him take me to a Blue Rocks playoff game. It was less than ideal weather to be 'graphing because of the rain, but the two cards Mike signed for me came out looking good. Those were the first of many cards that Mike would sign for me since then.

To date, Mike's best season was his first full season in the Majors Leagues in 2012. Though he hit just .242 that season, he set career-highs in home runs (20) and RBI (73). He hit a bit of a rough patch last season when he started out hitting .152 through the first 40 games of the season. The Royals finally sent him down to Omaha to get the kinks worked out and he rebounded to finish out the season at .212. While that is still a low average, he was a huge step forward after hitting .152 through the first quarter of the season. Mike then finished strong in the postseason by hitting 5 home runs and making one beautiful catch in the dugout suite. That catch will live on as a commemorative bobblehead that the Royals will be giving out later this month. Too bad I am going to miss that one.

To date this season, Mike is currently hitting .320 with 5 home runs and 16 RBI. And, he is the leading vote getter for AL third baseman. One year ago, I never would have thought that was possible.

Most of the college teams that are headed to the Super Regionals are now known. Here is who is advancing- LSU, Illinois, Texas A&M, Miami, VCU, TCU, CS Fullerton, Florida, Louisiana-Lafayette, Virginia, Louisville, Vanderbilt, Missouri St, Arkansas, and Florida St. The only one yet to be decided is the winner of the UCLA/Maryland game that is about to get underway. Nobody picked Louisiana-Lafayette or Virginia.