Thursday, July 30, 2015

2007 Bowman Heritage, Cesar Nicolas

#BHP4 Cesar Nicolas

Here is a card that I got signed at a Wichita Winguts playoff game in 2011. Cesar was playing for the Grand Prairie Airhogs at the time. For a playoff game, there wasn't too many people there and Cesar wondered aloud where all the people were.

Cesar was drafted by the Diamondbacks in the fifth round of the 2004 draft out of Vanderbilt. He hit 21 home runs in his first pro season in the Midwest League and followed that up with 14 home runs in the California League the next season while hitting .302 both years. In 2007, he was promoted to AA and his numbers dropped dramatically. He hit just .245 with 9 home runs that year and was forced to repeat AA the following season. His numbers were similar in his second go-around and the D-Backs released Cesar after just four seasons.

Cesar made the jump to independent ball in 2009, spending most of the season with Grand Prairie. He did good enough there to get picked up by the Tigers for the 2010 season, which he spent with their AA team. He started 2011 with the Tigers AAA team before getting released and heading back to Grand Prairie.

He had a really good season with the 'Hogs in 2011, hitting .353 with 73 RBI in 84 games. But it wasn't enough to get back into affiliated ball. Cesar would play for two more seasons in the American Association, Atlantic League, and Mexico before calling it quits after the 2013 season.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

2007 Bowman Heritage, Kei Igawa

#229 Kei Igawa

Here is a card that I got signed at a Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees game in 2009. Kei was charting pitches in the stands that game and was pretty easy to identify out of his uniform. So, I went up to him between innings and he signed all three cards that I had of him.

Kei came to the States from the Hanshin Tigers in Japan's Central League. He pitched for them for eight seasons and won 86 games for them while only losing 60. His best season for the Tigers was the 2003 season when his 20-5 record lead the team to the Central League pennant. Kei posted a 2.80 ERA that season and struck out 179 batters. Those numbers earned him the MVP Award and the Eiji Sawamura Award, which is the Japanese Cy Young Award.

With the Tigers, Kei had a 3.14 ERA and struck out 1174 batters, including a career high of 228 in 2004.

After the 2006 season, the Tigers posted him and the Yankees won the bid for him with a bid of $26,000,194.

Friday, July 24, 2015

My First Twitter Contest

In honor of John Smoltz going into the Hall of Fame on Sunday, I have decided to hold my very first Twitter contest. All you have to do is follow me on Twitter and retweet my Tweet about the contest. The winner will he chosen by and will receive the signed 8x10 in the picture. I got an extra one of these at the College World Series a few years back and I thought this would be the perfect time to hand one out.

Just follow me @zmills40 and retweet the post to be entered!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

2007 Bowman Heritage, Matt Chico

#225 Matt Chico

Here is the first of three cards that Matt Chico signed for me at a Wichita Wingnuts game in 2012. Matt was playing for the visiting New Jersey Jackals when they came to town for interleague play.

Matt was drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the third round of the 2003 draft out of USC. He pitched for the D-Backs organization for four seasons before being dealt to the Nationals for Livan Hernandez.

He broke camp in 2007 with the Nationals and was a mainstay in their rotation for most of the season. Though he did pitch in two AAA games in August, he made 31 starts at the Major League level and went 7-9 with a 4.63 ERA and 74 walks to 94 strikeouts. He had a hard time keeping the ball in the park that season as he gave up 26 long balls, including three in a game twice. The first three he gave up were in his Major League debut against the Marlins.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

2007 Bowman Heritage, Mark Reynolds

#224 Mark Reynolds

Here is a card that I got signed at a Royals game in 2013 while Mark was playing for the Indians. I got this card signed during batting practice and Mark was nice enough to sign all three cards for me.

When I got this card signed, Mark had just started playing with his third team. He started out with the Diamondbacks and then played for the Orioles before joining Cleveland. He has since played for three more teams since then. He got released by the Tribe later that season and was picked up by the Yankees a few days later. He was then with the Brewers last year before joining the Cardinals this season.

Despite having played for all of those teams, Mark's greatest success came while he was with the D-Backs. Even though he struck out 223 times in 2009, he still hit .260 with career highs in home runs and RBI, 44 and 102 respectively.

Mark has played in 82 games with the Cardinals this season and he is hitting .229 with 8 home runs and 33 RBI while filling in at the corner infield and outfield spots.

Monday, July 20, 2015

2007 Bowman Chrome, Mitch Maier

#214 Mitch Maier

This is the second card of Mitch Maier that I have posted on here. The first one was posted way back in 2010 after I got back from my farewell tour of the Metrodome. That card can be seen here.

I bought this card in 2008 for my trip to Albuquerque, where I was going to see the Omaha Royals play. I missed out on Mitch that day, but I got him later on that summer by the Royals parking lot at Kauffman Stadium. 2008 was my first year back into autograph collecting after many years away from the hobby. At that point, I had not learned about prepping glossy cards, so this one is unprepped. It came out looking surprisingly okay despite the lack of a baby powder rub down.

I went to a Wichita Wingnuts game last night because Pete Rose was at the park. I was hoping to snag a couple of autographs from him, but I was unwilling to pony up the $30 to do so. It was still cool to see the Hit King in-person, despite the appearance being all about the money. Luckily, I got a couple of freebies from him through the mail in 2009. I just wish I had sent him more than just the one '81 Donruss card from the set. I'm pretty sure Pete is on three cards from that set.

Here is a picture of Pete coaching first base for the Wingnuts last night. I'm sorry it did not turn out better.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

2007 Bowman, Jonathan Van Every

#SOF-JV Jonathan Van Every

It has been a while since I posted last. Since then, I made a trip out west and saw games in Seattle, Hillsboro, OR, Sacremento, and San Francisco. Then, after I made it back home, I went to the AAA All Star Game in Omaha. I did not do quite as well as I had hoped on the autograph front out west, but I still got a little over thirty cards signed. Rod, from Padrographs, helped make up for that by meeting me at the game in Hillsboro and handing over a nice lot of Padrographs. That was very cool of him. Then, in Omaha, I did pretty well as I got twenty-seven cards signed there. So, overall, it was great little vacation and a much needed break from work.

Here is a card of Jonathan Van Every that I pulled out of a pack in 2008.

Jonathan played for parts of three seasons with the Red Sox. He was a .255 career hitter with 2 home runs and 9 RBI over 47 at-bats. He had the privilege of pitching in two games for the Sox, as well. He pitched a scoreless 2/3 of an inning in 2009. Then, in 2010, he pitched an inning against the Yankees and gave up a two run home run to Mark Teixeira, which happened to be Mark's third home run of the day. But, he did get Brett Gardner looking for his only strikeout. So, in 1.2 innings pitched, Jonathan had a 10.84 ERA.

Jonathan retired from baseball after the 2011 season.

Monday, July 6, 2015

2007 Bowman, Archie Gilbert

#BC219 Archie Gilbert

Here is a card that I got signed at a Tulsa Drillers game in 2010. Archie was playing for the visiting Midland Rockhounds at the time and I was able to get this card signed by the 'Hounds dugout prior to the game.

Archie was a non-drafted free agent that signed with the Red Sox in 2005. His tenure in the Boston organization lasted 24 Gulf Coast League games before they released him. The White Sox picked him up and he hit .332 in 2006 for their Rookie ball team in the Pioneer League. They bumped him up to A ball in 2007 and he hit .289 in the South Atlantic League.

Archie ended up in the A's organization for the 2008 season and played there for three years. He got his first taste of AA in 2009 and repeated the level in 2010. He then joined the Nationals for one season and hit .313 for their AA team. It was then on to the D-Backs for one last season, which was split between AA and high-A. The D-Backs released him mid-season and he went to Mexico for 22 games to finish off his career.

Archie played in the minors for eight seasons and was a .276 hitter. In AA, he hit .275 with 26 home runs over 363 games. But, unlike the last five guys I posted on here, Archie never played independent ball.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

2007 Bowman, Nick Van Stratten

#BC201 Nick Van Stratten

Here is another American Association alumni. But, like the Jared Keel card I posted a few days ago, I got this card signed at an affiliated game. This one was signed in 2009 while Nick was playing for the Burlington Bees. My dad and I were on our way to the Futures Game in St. Louis and we detoured to Burlington to get an additional game in.

Nick was drafted by the Royals in the 10th round of the 2006 draft out of St. Louis Community College. He signed quickly and spent most of the summer playing in the Arizona League, hitting .292 in 54 games. He moved steadily up the minor league ladder and hit AA in 2010. He hit .262 at that level, but it wasn't enough. He ended up replaying that level two more seasons with some demotions back to High-A. He could never stick in AA and never got a chance at AAA.

Nick played in the Royals organization for seven seasons before they gave up on him after the 2012 season.

Nick is currently playing in Mexico and is currently hitting .373.

Friday, July 3, 2015

2007 Bowman, Adam Cowart

#BC188 Adam Cowart

Here is a card that I got signed at a Ft. Worth Cats game in 2009. I was heading down to see my grandparents that summer and I made it a point to stop at some games to and from their house. When I was at the Cats game, my local Wichita Wingnuts happened to be in town and Jared was pitching for them at the time. Jared and I went to school at Kansas State, so I made sure to wear a K-State shirt to the game. When I got him to sign the card, he did not say anything about the shirt. But then the Nuts pitching coach walked by, who is also a K-State alum, and he sure made a big deal about it. He was asking Adam if he noticed my shirt and we ended up talking for about fifteen minutes about K-State and their baseball program.

Adam was drafted by the Giants in the 35th round of the 2006 draft. He played in their system for four seasons and moved up a level in each of his first three seasons, reaching AA in 2008. His numbers went up each year as he progressed, starting with a 1.08 ERA in Low-A and then up to 3.76 in AA. In 2009, he was demoted to High-A, a level he had skipped, and he posted a 7.56 ERA in nine relief outings before the Giants released him.

After that, he was picked up by the Wingnuts and he pitched for them in 2009 and 2010. Over those two seasons, he was 15-12 with a ERA around 3.50. He joined the Sioux Falls Canaries in 2011 and was 5-8 with a 6.24 ERA over 19 starts. That was the last season Adam played.

This is the third player out of the last four that played their college ball in the Big 12. Adam was at K-State, Greg Porter at Texas A&M, and Ole Sheldon at Oklahoma.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

2007 Bowman, Jared Keel

#BC179 Jared Keel

Here is another guy that spent some time in the American Association. However, I got this card signed when Jared was still in affiliated ball. Actually, a friend of mine got this one signed for me.

In 2009, I flew out to Maryland to visit an Army buddy. It was in September and the Carolina League playoffs were under way. Wilmington, Delaware, was a mere ninety minutes from where my friend lived, so I made him take me to a first round game. It was pretty nasty weather that night with on and off rain all night long. I decided I would 'graph the home team, a Royals farm team, and I would try to get my friend to get the visitors, the Lynchburg Hillcats. I gave my friend the instructions that if it starts raining, don't even try to get the cards signed.

Even though my buddy was barely a baseball fan, let alone a 'grapher, he gave it his best shot. And he wasn't about to let a few pesky raindrops shut him out. This card is evidence of that. He got Jared to sign it while it was just sprinkling and the 'graph got smudged a bit. Jared did his best to counter the elements by wiping off the card and blowing on it before he signed, but it looks like it still got hit with a sprinkle in the middle of his signature. It did come out looking a lot better than a couple of other cards my friend got signed that evening, though.

Jared's career lasted just five seasons. He was drafted by the Pirates in the 31st round of the 2006 draft out of Troy University. He signed quickly and was assigned to the Pirates Gulf Coast League team. He tore it up at that level, hitting .432 in 21 games, before getting bumped up to low-A. He hit .250 there to finish out his first season of pro ball and was moved up to A ball the next season. He spent the entire 2007 season in the South Atlantic League and hit .261 with 17 home runs and 56 RBI. He was moved up to High-A for 2008 and he had good power numbers, 20 home runs and 81 RBI, but his average slid to .237. He repeated High-A the next season and regressed a bit by hitting just 11 home runs with 44 RBI and a .229 average.

The Pirates released him after that season and he ended up with the Sioux Falls Canaries in the Am-Ass. He lasted just 45 games with them and hit .204 before being let go. That ended Jared's career.