Thursday, March 21, 2019

2008 Donruss Elite, Shelby Ford


#160 Shelby Ford

How is that for a name? It is certainly better than being named Taurus, Escort, or Focus. Ranger might have been cool, though.

I got this card signed by Shelby in 2017 at a Wingnuts game. He was the hitting coach for the Grand Prairie Airhogs at the time. The 'Hogs had a rough season that year and got a little short on players. Because of that, they had to activate Shelby. He played in just two games for them and went 1-4 with his lone hit being a single.

Shelby was drafted by the Pirates in the 3rd round of the 2006 draft out of Oklahoma State. He reached AAA in 2009 and struggled mightily at the level, hitting just .188 in nearly 300 at-bats. Despite hitting .285 in AA the previous season, that stint in AAA seems to have broke Shelby. He got demoted to AA in 2009 and would hit just .233 there. He went back to AA in 2010 and he hit .245. In AA in 2011, he could only muster a .194 average through 62 at-bats (though he hit .304 in 23 AAA at-bats). The Pirates cut him loose.

He would go on to play parts of five seasons in the independent ranks before calling it a career after the 2015 season and then again after 2017. He finished his affiliated minor league career a .253 hitter with 30 home runs and 203 RBI.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

2008 Donruss Elite, Danny Espinosa


#147 Danny Espinosa

Next up from the 2008 Donruss Elite set is this die-cut card of Danny Espinosa. This card is limited to 150 copies and I was able to get it signed at the Futures Game in St. Louis in 2009. Danny signed this card and one other for me.

Danny has played eight seasons in the Majors, with all but one of them with the Nationals. He also saw time with the Angels, Mariners, and Rays during the 2017 season. Last year was spent with three different organizations at the AAA level. Right now, he is in camp with the Mets as a non-roster invitee. It will be interesting to see if he can find his way back to the majors this season. Considering that he his hitting just .067 in 30 Grapefruit League at-bats, that may be a long shot.

During his time in DC, Danny was a .226 hitter with 92 home runs and 285 RBI. In 2016, he set single-season marks for himself by hitting 24 homers and driving in 72 runs. On the flip side, he hit just .209 with 174 strikeouts and just 15 doubles. The Nats traded him to the Angels after the season and, since then, he has signed with seven different teams.

If Danny is unable to find his way back to the Majors, he will have finished his career a .221 hitter with 98 home runs and 316 RBI.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

2008 Donruss Elite, Petey Paramore


#80 Petey Paramore

Here is a card of Petey Paramore that I got signed at a Wichita Wingnuts game in 2013. Petey was playing with the visiting Kansas City T-Bones at the time and he was nice enough to sign all three cards that I had of him.

Petey was drafted by the A's in the third round of the 2008 draft out of Arizona State. He would play in the A's farm system for just five years before moving on to the independent ranks. In those five years, he would spend the bulk of his time in some form of A ball and he hit .237 with 22 home runs and 136 driven in.

He played in the American Association and Atlantic League for two seasons before retiring after the 2014 season.

Petey got the opportunity to play in two AAA games in 2012 and he did well in the limited action. In the two games, he was 2-7 with a solo home run.

Monday, March 18, 2019

2008 Donruss Elite, Juan Carlos Sulbaran


#60 Juan Carlos Sulbaran

Here is a card that I got signed at an Omaha Storm Chasers game in 2015. JC was playing for the Chasers at the time and was nice enough to sign all three cards that I had of him.

That was my second attempt at getting this card signed. In 2009, I got about as close to getting a card signed as you can without it being signed. It was in St. Louis at the Futures Game. JC was representing the World team. Though I did most of my 'graphing on the USA side that day, I did venture over to the World side when all of the American players were off the field. JC was making his way down the line signing for people. As he was doing so, there was a staffer nearby telling him that it was about time to head in. He kept on signing and he made it to me. He grabbed my card book and my Sharpie and then the staffer told him it was time to go. Rather than signing this card real quick, he handed it back to me and told me sorry. Close, but no cigar. At least I made up for it six years later.

JC spent eight seasons in the minor leagues and never made it up to the Majors. He spent time in the Reds, Royals, and Cardinals organizations and played parts of two seasons in AAA. Over those eight seasons, he was 49-65 with a 5.48 ERA.

The Curacao native also had the pleasure of representing the Netherlands in two WBC tournaments.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

2008 Donruss Elite, Josh Harrison


#57 Josh Harrison

I only bought a few packs of 2008 Donruss Elite, but I was lucky enough to pull this card out of one of them. At the time, it was just a sticker autograph of a minor league player that I had never heard of. Now, it is not that bad of a pull.

Josh was originally drafted by the Cubs in the sixth round of the 2008 draft out of Cincinnati. A year later, he was dealt to the Pirates to shore up some pitching for a playoff push that never materialized. It worked out great for the Pirates, though, as they ended up with a two-time All Star and key piece to their good teams a few years back.

During Josh's eight seasons in Pittsburgh, he would hit .277 with 52 home runs and 269 RBI while playing everywhere except center field, first base, and catcher. He made All Star teams in 2014 and 2017 and had his best statistical campaigns in those two years, though his 2014 season was probably the better of the two. That year, he had career highs in average (.315), doubles (38), and runs (77).

Josh became a free agent after this past season and will be joining the Detroit Tigers this year.

Unlike the other 2008 draft picks that I have posted from this set, Josh is not sporting his college digs in this photo. He is instead pictured in the minor league uniform of the Boise Hawks.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

2008 Donruss Elite, Jose Duran


#56 Jose Duran

Jose Duran was drafted in the sixth round of the 2008 draft by the Brewers. He signed quickly and made his minor league debut that year, hitting .221 for their rookie level team. He played A ball the next season and again hit .221. The Brewers had seen enough and released Jose. His career in affiliated ball was over.

But, he latched on in the American Association and was able to play three more seasons on that circuit. He made the rounds in the Am-Ass, setting up shop for five different clubs in those three seasons. He saw time with Grand Prairie, Ft. Worth, Wichita, Kansas City, and Winnipeg. Over the course of it all, he hit .290 in the league before calling it a career after the 2012 season. He did come back in 2014 in the United Baseball League, but played in just 26 games before calling it quits for good.

For someone that only played two seasons of affiliated ball, Jose sure got quite a few cards. He has one Bowman card and the rest are from Panini.

I got this card signed at a Wingnuts game in 2012 while Jose was playing for the Kansas City T-Bones.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

2008 Donruss Elite, Johnny Giavotella


#53 Johnny Giavotella

Even though I posted a card of Johnny last week, this is his first stand alone post. Ideally, I would have done a post about him when I was going through my 2008 Bowman. But, since I do not have any repeats in this Donruss Elite set besides Johnny, it just made sense for me to post this card instead.

As a Royals fan, I was looking forward to the day that Johnny was going to be their everyday second baseman. Unfortunately, that day never came. Johnny spent parts of four seasons with the club, but he played in just 125 games with them. The most games he ever got into in a single season with the Royals is 53 in 2012. He hit .236 with the team that drafted him before they dealt him to the Angels after the 2014 season. It was kind of a sad day as I feel that Johnny was never given the chance to prove that he could play everyday.

The Angels gave him the everyday job in 2015 and Johnny had a good season. He played 129 games and he hit .272 with 25 doubles, 4 homers, and 49 RBI. He played in just 99 games the next year, but still managed to hit .260 with 20 doubles, 6 dingers, and 31 RBI.

He became a free agent after that season and signed with the Orioles. He would spend most of the season in AAA, appearing in just seven games with the O's, probably the last seven games of his career. He was with two different organizations last season, but got released by each of them during the season. He is not at Spring Training this year and his career is more than likely done.

I got this card signed in Wilmington, Delaware at a Blue Rocks playoff game in 2009.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

2008 Donruss Elite, Jeudy Valdez


#50 Jeudy Valdez

Here is another Padrograph from Rod that was given to me when we met up in Hillsboro, Oregon in 2015. This card features Padre minor leaguer Jeudy Valdez.

Jeudy had a long professional career, but he never made it up to the Majors. In fact, he never made it above AA. He played for ten seasons and did three stints in AA, but that was as far as he got. In his final season of affiliated ball in 2014, he actually spent the entire season at high-A and hit only .197. He then played in 2015 with three indy teams in three different leagues before calling it a career.

This image really helps to characterize this set. Yesterday, we had a college photo. Now we have a minor league photo with Jeudy playing for the Eugene Emeralds. This set is basically a hybrid of prospects from Bowman mixed with Bowman Draft. It is the best of both worlds with no airbrushing (or Major League teams/logos).

Monday, March 4, 2019

2008 Donruss Elite, Dusty Coleman


#32 Dusty Coleman

Here is a card that I got signed through the mail in 2009. I mailed this to the single-A team that Dusty was playing for at the end of the season and I got it back a few weeks before Thanksgiving.

The reason why I felt I needed to get this card signed is because it features a Wichita State player. When I was growing up, Wichita State baseball was the cream of the crop. They were always winning their conference and were always in the hunt to go to Omaha. While they are nowhere close to where they used to be, I still keep tabs on them. I saw Dusty play a few times in the 2008 Regional and Super Regional, so I thought it would be cool to try to get a card signed by him.

Dusty was drafted in the 28th round by the A's in 2008, but would never make it to the Majors with them. He got his first taste of big league action when he got into four games with the Royals in 2015, going 0-5 with three strikeouts.

Luckily, he got another shot two years later with the Padres. That time, he played in 27 games and he it .227 with 4 home runs and 9 driven in.

Dusty played in AAA all last year with the Padres organization. It looks like he is teamless right now and, considering he hit just .202 in 103 games last season, it very well could be that his career is over.

Saturday, March 2, 2019

2008 DAV Tulsa Drillers, Ubaldo Jimenez


#146 Ubaldo Jimenez

Here is the second card from the 2008 DAV Tulsa Drillers "team set" that I have been able to get signed. The set was given away at a random Drillers game I attended in 2008.

I got this card signed at a Royals game in 2012 while Ubaldo was a member of the Indians. He signed down the line right after batting practice. I had three cards of him, but wasn't sure if he would sign all three. So, I gave one to my dad and, since he signed the two I had, I came home with three signed cards from him that day.

Ubaldo last pitched for the Orioles in 2017. For his career, he holds a 114-117 record with a save, a 4.34 ERA and 1720 strikeouts. He had six double-digit win seasons, but also seven double-digit loss seasons. He played in one World Series and made one All Star team.

He was an All Star in 2010 and that was by far his best season as a Major League hurler. He finished the season 19-8 with a 2.88 ERA and 214 strikeouts, all of which were season highs for him. He finished third in the National Cy Young vote behind Roy Halladay and Adam Wainwright. He got the start in the All Star Game that year and threw two shutout innings while striking out Vladimir Guerrero.

Friday, March 1, 2019

2008 DAV Tulsa Drillers, Manuel Corpas


#141 Manuel Corpas

Normally, when I get to a minor league team set, I will just post all the cards that I have signed from that set in a single post. But, I only have two cards signed from this set and this set is a little different. So, each card will get its own post.

This set was a stadium giveaway. Rather than giving away a set of the current players on the Drillers, this one features the best Drillers players from their time as a Rockies affiliate. The Rockies began their affiliation with the Drillers in 2003, so it is impressive that they were able to put out a "best of" set after just four years.

The first card from the set that I got signed was this card of Manny Corpas. I got this one signed by the visiting team dugout at a Royals game in 2010 when the Rockies came to town. I ran across Manny outside the park on his way in, but he wouldn't sign then. His reason was that he had signed the day before. Luckily, he changed his mind once he got inside. Manny signed three cards for me.

Manny pitched in the Majors for seven seasons with the Rockies and Cubs. Over that time, he was 13-20 with 34 saves and a 4.14 ERA. His best season was with the Rox in 2007. That year, he was 4-2 with a career-high 19 saves and a 2.08 ERA. He was just as effective in the postseason that year as well, allowing just one earned run in 10.1 innings of work.

I was a little skeptical about how cards from this set were going to turn out signed with the odd background and all. But, to my amazement, they both came out looking good.

Thursday, February 28, 2019

2008 Choice Newark Bears, Tim Sweeney


#23 Tim Sweeney

Yesterday, I posted four Choice minor league cards that were given to me by another blogger. Today, I have one more. This one is from Paul, from Paul's Random Stuff fame. He sent this to me a few years ago with some other goodies.

Tim had a really short professional career. He was drafted by the Expos in the 20th round of the 2002 draft and he was out of baseball after the 2003 season after just playing 105 games and hitting .201. He then emerged with the Aiken Foxhounds of the South Coast League in 2007 before joining the Atlantic League's Newark Bears in 2008. How he managed to not play for three seasons before coming back to a league that I had never heard of and then playing a season in the Atlantic League is beyond me.

The Atlantic League is the cream of the crop of independent baseball with many former Major Leaguers playing in it. In fact, MLB just signed an agreement with the league to try out possible new rule changes there before implementing them at the Major League level. The funny thing is that this guy, that hit .201 in lower A ball, did well in the Atlantic League. Though he played in just 37 games, Tim managed to hit .273 with 12 RBI. He even pitched a scoreless inning.

Tim hung up the cleats for good after that one season with Newark. But, we have this cool card of him to commemorate his last season playing professional ball.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

2008 Choice Frederick Keys


#8 Todd Davison
#21 Brandon Tripp
#22 Chris Vinyard
#28 Paul Winterling

Here are a few cards from the 2008 Frederick Keys team set that was put out by Choice. I acquired these cards in a care package from Ryan of The Great Orioles Autograph Project fame. I assume that he got them signed in person at a Keys game in 2008.

Unfortunately, none of these guys made it very far in baseball. Three of the four were out of pro ball by the end of the 2009 season and never made it to AA. The only one that played past 2009 was Brandon Tripp. He made it to AA in the Phillies organization in 2012. But, that was his last year in affiliated ball, though he would go on to play in the American Association through the 2014 season. So, I guess that makes him the most accomplished one in the bunch.

As for the 2008 Keys, they finished their season 63-76, which placed them third in the four team North Division of the Carolina League. Notable names on their roster included Matt Wieters and Jake Arrieta.

Monday, February 25, 2019

The Rest of 2008 Bowman


#86 Billy Butler
#219 Alberto Gonzalez
#BP95 Matt Buschmann
#BDP22 Nick Hundley
#BDP46 Warner Madrigal
#BDPP47 Johnny Giavotella

I have been posting 2008 Bowman cards for about two months, but that is over now. Here are the cards I skipped over. I originally planned on skipping over cards when it was of a player that I have posted on here before. But, I decided to switch it up when I got to Alberto Gonzalez. I have not posted a card of him yet, but I have a 2008 Upper Deck Artifacts card of him where that is the only card of the set that I have signed. So, I have to post that card. So, rather than doing two posts about him, I will be lumping him into the "Rest of" category twice before he gets his first post.

Billy Butler- He signed this card for me from the Royals parking lot after a game in 2008. Those were the good ol' days.

Alberto Gonzalez- He signed for me in 2015 while he was playing for the Wichita Wingnuts.

Matt Buschmann- A Padrograph. I don't think I mentioned it in his original post, but Matt is the bullpen coach for the Blue Jays now. I also have one more of these if anyone needs one.

Nick Hundley- Another Padrograph.

Warner Madrigal- He signed this for me at a Northwest Arkansas Naturals game in 2010 when he was on a rehab assignment with the Frisco Rough Riders.

Johnny Giavotella- This one is like Alberto Gonzalez in that I haven't given Johnny his own post. But, that is coming shortly. This one was signed in 2009 at the Wilmington Blue Rocks game I attended. If I had to guess, I would say that this photo was taken at Wichita State's Eck Stadium in 2008. WSU hosted a regional that year and Johnny's New Orleans Privateers were one of the four teams there. Back then, Eck featured a turf infield and grass outfield just like the photo on this card. I went to two games in that regional, but I did not see New Orleans play.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

2008 Bowman, Chris Tillman


#SOF-CT1 Chris Tillman

Here is a card that I pulled out of a pack in 2008. If it wasn't for this card, I never would have known that Tillman was originally drafted by the Mariners. But, before he could ever debut with them, they shipped him to the O's for Erik Bedard. Considering that Baltimore also got Adam Jones in the deal and that those two players played for the team for ten years each, I would say that the O's got the better end of that deal.

In ten seasons with the O's, Chris amassed a record of 74-60 with a 4.57 ERA and 847 strikeouts. He had double-digit win totals four times and topped out at 16 wins twice. He never made an All Star team, but he did pitch in three postseason games.

After winning 16 games for a second time in 2016, Chris has had a rough go of it since. He ended up getting demoted to the bullpen in 2017 and he only pitched in seven games last year before getting designated for assignment. Over that span, his record is 2-12 with a 8.46 ERA in 119.2 innings of work. That might help explain why the thirty year-old is currently a free agent.

It is still early in Spring Training, so I would think that there is a team out there willing to take a chance on Chris with a cheap incentive-laden deal. We will see.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

2008 Bowman, Bryan Anderson


#BDPP96 Bryan Anderson

Here is a card that I got signed at an Omaha Storm Chasers game in 2016. Bryan was playing with the visiting Nashville Sounds at the time and he stopped and signed three cards on his way to the field.

At the time, Brian was rocking some long hair. It looked similar to his picture on his Baseball-Reference site, but it was past his shoulders at that point. He looked more like a roadie than a professional ballplayer. It was quite impressive.

Bryan had a relatively short Major League career. Though he played in the bigs during five different seasons, he only got to play in 40 Major League games. Of those 40, only 16 were starts.

Bryan's last season playing ball was that 2016 minor league season. Over his 40 games with the Cardinals, White Sox, and A's, he was a .221 hitter with 4 doubles, no home runs, and 7 RBI. He finished with more strikeouts than hits.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

2008 Bowman, Welington Castillo


#BDPP82 Welington Castillo

Here is another card that I got signed at an Iowa Cubs game. The last card I posted from an I-Cubs game was signed in 2013 during an out of the way game during the College World Series. This one was obtained in 2011 on the way home from a Minnesota Twins game.

Welington was a super-friendly guy that would sign about anything. I had three cards of him and he signed all three. One kid had over a dozen cards of him and he signed them all, but not without giving the kid crap about selling his autographs. He was just joking with the kid and it was good to see that kind of interaction between a fan and player.

So far, Welington has played in the Majors every year since 2010. He spent the first five and a half seasons with the Cubs before bouncing around after that. Since 2015, he has played with the Mariners, Diamondbacks, Orioles, and is now currently with the White Sox.

To date, he is a .259 hitter that has 86 home runs and 298 RBI. His best season was probably with the Orioles in 2017. That year, he hit .282 with 20 homers and 53 RBI.

He signed a two-year deal with the White Sox after that, but had a rough season last year in his first year with the South Siders. Injuries limited him to just 49 games, though he did hit .259 with 6 dingers and 15 RBI in his limited action. I am sure he will be looking to bounce back this season so the Sox will pick up his option for 2020.

Monday, February 18, 2019

2008 Bowman, Chris Getz


#BDPP81 Chris Getz

Here is a card that I got signed outside of Kauffman Stadium in 2013 while Chris was with the Royals. That was about the time that the Royals became bad signers at home, so Chris was the only Royal I got that day. The Rangers were in town that afternoon and I did much better with them.

Chis played in the Majors for parts of seven seasons with the White Sox, Royals, and Blue Jays. Over that time, he hit .250 with 3 home runs, 111 RBI, and 89 stolen bases. His best season was with the White Sox in 2009. That year, he hit .261 with 18 doubles, 2 dingers, and 31 RBI. He did so well that season that Topps named him to their All-Rookie Team. The White Sox rewarded him by trading him to the Royals for Mark Teahan. I am going to call that trade a push.

These days, Chris is back with the White Sox as their director of player development.

Based off of a couple of other autographs that I have gotten from Chris, it would appear that Chris only signed his first name on this card. I guess that is just how his hurried ballpark signature comes out.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

2008 Bowman, Anthony Bass


#BDPP58 Anthony Bass

Here is another signed Padre card that was given to me by Rod of Padrographs fame. He hooked me up with this card when we met up at a Hillsboro Hops game in 2015.

Leading up to this post, I was unsure if Anthony had ever made it to the Majors or not. To my amazement, not only had he made it to the Majors, but he has pitched there in every season since 2011 except for 2016. How did I not know that?

Anthony pitched for the Padres for parts of three seasons before making stops with the Astros, Rangers, and Cubs. So far, for his career, he is 5-9 with 3 saves and a 4.51 ERA in nearly 300 innings of work.

Anthony only saw 15.1 innings of work last year with the Cubs, but he pitched rather well. He posted a 2.93 ERA and struck out 14 batters. That is the closest to a strikeout per inning that he has ever been.

It looks like Anthony is currently in Reds camp on a minor league deal trying to earn a spot in their 'pen.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

2008 Bowman, Anthony Capra


#BDPP56 Anthony Capra

Here is a card that I got signed at a Tulsa Drillers game in 2010. Anthony was playing for the visiting Midland RockHounds that summer. At the game I was at, he had the night off and was charged with charting pitches from the stands. A fellow collector pointed him out to me and I was able to get him to sign this card for me right before the game started.

When I got this card signed, I also got one signed by Travis Banwart, who was helping Anthony chart pitches. Those two players have a lot in common. They both pitched at Wichita State. They were both taken in the fourth round by the A's. They both played together for a couple of seasons in the minors. And they both ended up in the American Association, playing for the Wichita Wingnuts. But, ultimately, Travis had a more successful career than Anthony did.

Anthony was out of affiliated ball before the 2012 season was over. He pitched in just one AAA game and the majority of his affiliated time was in some sort of A ball. He then joined the Wingnuts in 2012 after the A's released him. He pitched in Wichita for five seasons before retiring and becoming the teams pitching coach for the 2017 season. He held that role for two seasons before the club disbanded following the 2018 campaign.

You have got to love it when a player's autograph looks exactly like the pre-printed signature on the card.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

2008 Bowman, Brent Morel


#BDPP49 Brent Morel

Here is a card that I got signed at an Omaha Storm Chasers game in 2015. Brent was playing for the visiting Nashville Sounds at the time and I asked him to sign when he came out of the clubhouse. He was one of the last guys out and running a little late, so he told me he would get me after the game. I have heard that line, or one similar, hundreds of times and it is very rare for a player to uphold his promise. But, low and behold, Brent actually came through. I was quite amazed.

That was the second time I tried to get this card signed. The first one was at the Rickwood Classic in 2010. I didn't have a smartphone at the time, so I printed off rosters for the teams I would be seeing before I left for my trip. When I got to Birmingham, the Barons were wearing throwback uniforms without player names on them. So, I found his number and kept calling out for Brent and he kept ignoring me. After a bit, he finally turns around and tells me that he wasn't Brent and that Brent had been promoted to AAA. D'oh!

Brent's Major League career spanned parts of six seasons with the White Sox and Pirates. He played in 219 games during that time and he hit just .227 with 13 home runs and 59 RBI. His best season was with the Sox in 2011. That season, he got into 126 games and he hit .245 with 10 dingers and 41 driven in.

2015 was the last time Brent played in the Majors and in the States. He took his game to Japan for two seasons before apparently calling it a career after the 2017 season.

Nebraska has been added to the 2008 Bowman map. This is the last addition to this map for now. It looks like the final tally is that I got cards signed in fifteen cities and twelve states.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

2008 Bowman, Shane Peterson


#BDPP33 Shane Peterson

Here is a card that I got signed in 2010 at a Tulsa Drillers game I attended. Shane was playing for the visiting Midland RockHounds at the time. It took a few tries to get him to come over and sign, but I eventually got him before he went back into the clubhouse.

Shane has played parts of three seasons in the Majors. He got his first taste of action with the A's in 2013 when he got into 2 games with them. He then played in 93 games with the Brewers in 2015. His last big league action came with the Rays in 2017 when he got into 30 games. Over those 125 games, Shane has hit .254 with 4 home runs and 28 RBI. Since this is an odd year, maybe he will resurface on a Major League roster at some point in the year.

After spending last season on the Padres AAA team in El Paso, it looks like Shane will be heading to Dodgers camp next week as a non-roster invitee. So, more than likely, he will be spending his summer in Oklahoma City.

Shane was originally a second round pick of the Cardinals out of Long Beach State. The Cards dealt him to the A's when they landed Matt Holliday. Even though the A's also got two other players in that deal, I think that the Cardinals got the better end of that deal.

Monday, February 11, 2019

2008 Bowman, Richard Bleier


#BDPP22 Richard Bleier

As most people know, Bowman products are ripe with players that never make the Major Leagues. Just look at my previous two posts for evidence of that. I thought this card of Richard Bleier was going to make it three in a row, but I was way off course. It turns out that Richard has spent the past three years in the Majors.

Richard broke into the league with the Yankees in 2016 before spending the past two seasons with the Orioles. Over those three seasons, he has pitched 119 innings of relief and put up a rather remarkable 1.97 ERA. He only has 54 strikeouts, so he must pitch to contact. So far, it looks like that is working for him as he owns a 5-1 record with 14 holds.

So far, his best season was with the O's in 2017. That year, he appeared in a career-high 57 games and pitched 63.1 innings. Though he posted his highest single season ERA that year, a whopping 1.99, he was 2-1 with 26 strikeouts.

I got this card signed in Springdale, Arkansas in 2010. Richard was playing for the visiting Frisco Rough Riders at the time.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

2008 Bowman, Jay Austin


#BDPP12 Jay Austin

Here is a card that I got signed at a Wingnuts game last summer. Jay was playing for the Sioux City Explorers last year and I got him to sign this one card by the X's visiting dugout.

Jay was taken by the Astros in the second round of the 2008 draft out of high school. He made his professional debut later that summer at the age of seventeen and played in the Astros system through 2012. Unfortunately, he struggled in affiliated ball and never got above A ball in his days of playing.

He took 2013 off before joining the indy ranks in 2014. Since then, he has played in the Frontier League, Can-Am League, American Association, as well as some Mexican fall league. Considering that he is only twenty-eight years old and that he hit .364 in the American Association, I would think that he would still have some ball left him.

During his time in affiliated ball, Jay played in 353 games and hit .257 with 14 home runs and 149 RBI. Since dropping down to the independent ranks, he has played in 321 games and hit .332 with 11 home runs and 147 RBI.

Friday, February 8, 2019

2008 Bowman, Jeff Lanning


#BDPP4 Jeff Lanning

Here is a card that I got signed at a Wichita Wingnuts game in 2012 while Jeff was playing for the Can-Am League's New Jersey Jackals. For a couple of years, the Can-Am and the American Association each had an odd number of teams. To counteract that, the leagues added interleague to the schedule so that there was always one interleague series going on. I thought it was a cool idea to combat the odd number of teams. The only problem, for me at least, was that the Jackals were the only team to travel to Wichita. But, on the day I got this card signed, I came home with 33 signed cards. That was my record for a Winguts game.

Jeff's career spanned five seasons. He played two years in the Twins organization before moving on to the Phillies for two years. He then played one season for New Jersey. Through all of that, he played in 223 games and never got above high-A. He was a .256 hitter that had 25 home runs and 102 RBI.

The funny thing about Jeff's career is that he never played in more than 53 games in any season. I guess it goes to show that even the lowest levels of the minor leagues need back-up catchers.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

2008 Bowman, Max Ramirez


#BDP30 Max Ramirez

Here is a card that I got signed in Des Moines, Iowa in 2013 while Max was playing for the Iowa Cubs. That was part of a College World Series trip. To make the yearly pilgrimage more enjoyable, we drove through Omaha and kept on going to Des Moines on our first day of the trip. We went to a Storm Chasers/Cubs game that night before heading back to Omaha for a couple of days of the CWS. I am still waiting for the day that the Chasers have a home game on opening weekend of the Series.

Max played in just 45 Major League games in 2008 and 2010. In each of those seasons, he managed to hit .217 and is a career .217 hitter. He also hit two home runs in each season though he played in a few more games in 2010. Incidentally, his first home run was hit off of Roy Oswalt. It was a two run shot that put the Rangers up 3-2 in the fourth inning and the score held for the rest of the game. If he had hit that in 1985, he would have been credited with a game winning RBI.

Even though Max hasn't played in the Majors since 2010, he is still playing pro ball. He has spent the past four seasons playing in the Mexican League, though he played just twelve games last year. He played this winter, too, so it would appear that he is still wanting to play this summer.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

2008 Bowman, Matt Joyce


#BDP25 Matt Joyce

In 2009, a family friend was racing stock cars in the ARCA series. Every weekend, they were off with their car at some major race track across the country. One weekend, I got invited to go and I jumped at the chance. Even though I am not a race fan, I like road trips and a trip to Pocono Raceway in Pennsylvania sounded like a good time. Plus, the nearby Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees were in town that weekend. Once I got confirmation that we would have time for a ballgame, I was all in.

The SWB Yankees were hosting the Durham Bulls that weekend. Though I had cards for both teams, I was only going to be able to 'graph one side of the field. I chose the Bulls. I did send my buddy over to the Yankee side to snag Butch Wynegar for my '81 Donruss set and he came though for me. Matt was playing for the Bulls at the time and he was nice enough to sign this one card for me.

It is pretty cool to be posting a card of a current player on here. That rarely happens on this blog. Matt spent last season with Oakland and had a rough season. In 83 games, he hit just .208 with 7 home runs and 15 RBI.

Matt's best season was with the Rays in 2011. That year, he had career highs in average (.277) and RBI (.277) while also knocking 19 home runs. He was rewarded for his efforts with his lone All Star Game selection. In that game, he was 1-2 with a single off of Joel Hanrahan in the top of the ninth.

To date, Matt is a .240 hitter with 138 home runs and 459 RBI for his career. Matt's contract with Oakland was up after last season and he is currently a free agent.

Here is an updated 2008 Bowman map. I think that there is just one more state to add to it.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

2008 Bowman, Elliot Johnson


#BDP24 Elliot Johnson

With this card, we finally enter the Draft Picks and Prospects set from 2008 Bowman. Since the BDP set and the base set look exactly the same, I just lump them together as one set. It was nice, though, when Topps was nice enough to add the BDP designation to the card numbers of the second set. Later on, they drop that designation and it gets a little confusing.

My oldest kid got this card signed for me at a Royals Spring Training game in 2013. We actually stayed for the entire game that day and afterwards, Elliot stopped to sign a few autographs. I gave my then seven year old my card book and he hustled down and got Elliot to sign two cards for me.

Unfortunately, my oldest kid never got into collecting autographs like I did. But, he still helps me out whenever he can. Now that he is a teenager, it usually takes a little bribery to get his help. The last two Spring Trainings, it was in the form of a dollar a card. This year at Royals Fanfest, it costs me a new pair of shoes. His help is getting a little pricier as he gets older, but it is much appreciated.

Elliot played in the Majors for parts of five seasons with the Rays, Royals, Braves, and Indians. The utility player played every position in the Majors except for pitcher and catcher. A .215 hitter, he had 12 home runs and 69 RBI for his career.

Elliot's best season was with the Rays in 2012. He got into a career-high 123 games that season and he hit .242 with 6 home runs and 33 RBI.

On a side note, that was actually the second time that I had gotten Elliot's signature. I originally got him at a Scranton/Wilkes-Barre game in 2009 when he was with the visiting Durham Bulls. I seem to have a knack for getting autographs of future Royals players and I think it might have started with him at that Bulls game.

Arizona has been added to the 2008 Bowman map.

Monday, February 4, 2019

2008 Bowman, Christian Marrero


#BCP235 Christian Marrero

Here is a card that I got signed in Birmingham, Alabama at the 2010 Rickwood Classic. Christian was playing for the hometown Birmingham Barons that day and he was nice enough to stop and sign my lone card after hitting some soft toss on the field.

Christian played minor league baseball for a dozen years, all the way through the 2017 season. During that time, he played in the White Sox, Braves, Pirates, and Phillies organizations and even got in some Mexican League and independent baseball.

The crazy thing about Christian's career is that out of his twelve seasons of professional baseball, he only played 80 games in AAA. Christian was basically a career AA player. He spent parts of nine seasons at that level including four and a half seasons with the Barons.

In his twelve years of service, Christian was a .277 hitter with 107 home runs and 577 RBI. His best season at AA was his first taste of it, the half season in Birmingham in 2009. In just 65 games, Christian hit .301 with 11 homers and 40 RBI.

Friday, February 1, 2019

2008 Bowman, Chase Lirette


#BCP234 Chase Lirette

On the way to the Future's Game in 2009, my dad and I took the scenic route. And by scenic, I mean that we ventured up to Burlington, Iowa to watch the Royals Midwest League team play. They were hosting the Jays affiliate that night.

Once I got inside the park, I hit up the team store and bought a Bees team set. With that set in hand, I set up shop on the home side of the field to get as many of those cards signed as I could. I tasked my dad 'graphing the visitor's side. I only had three or four cards for him to get signed and he succeeded with two of those. This is one of them.

Like that last player that I posted that signed in Burlington, David Wood, Chase was out of baseball after that 2009 season, too. Unlike Wood, though, he did not have a great 2007 season. So, I am a little surprised he even got a card in this set. In '07, Chase pitched in just 10 games and was 5-5 with a 4.42 ERA while striking out 41 in 59 innings of work in the Midwest League. He ended up dropping down to the rookie level in 2008, where he again pitched in 10 games, before repeating that Midwest League in '09. While he pitched more in '09 than any other season, appearing in 20 games and 85.1 innings, he was just 4-3 with a 5.70 ERA and 53 strikeouts.

Chase finished his four year professional career with a 13-12 record with a save, a 4.71 ERA, and 160 strikeouts in 210 innings of work.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

2008 Bowman, Trevor Reckling


#BCP228 Trevor Reckling

Here is a card that I got signed at the Futures Game in St. Louis in 2009. Trevor was an up-and-comer for the Angels at the time and I was lucky enough to get this one card signed by him. While his signature is not readable and looks nothing like the pre-printed one on the card, it sure does look stylish.

During his Futures Game season, Trevor tore up the Texas League. At just 20 years of age, he was 8-7 with a 2.93 ERA and 106 strikeouts. Not only did he appear in the Futures Game, but he was a league All Star and represented the USA in the IBAF World Cup after the season.

Unfortunately, he would never repeat those numbers again. 2010 was split between AA and AAA and he was 7-13 between the two levels with a 6.42 ERA. He pitched parts of two more seasons in the Halos system before they let him go.

He spent two seasons trying to work it out in independent leagues, but 2015 is the last year that I can find stats for him. According to his Wikipedia page, he is pitching in Denmark. But, I didn't see him on a roster, so that might not have worked out either.

That just goes to show how hit and miss it can be prospecting in baseball. Even the brightest stars of tomorrow never make it to The Show to shine.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

2008 Bowman, Clint Robinson


#BCP221 Clint Robinson

Here is a card that I got signed in Wilmington, Delaware at a Carolina League playoff game in 2009. You can read more about that trip to Delaware in my Kent Sakamoto post that I did earlier this month.

Clint played in the Royals system for six seasons and did well at every level. At the Blue Rocks game I attended, he got the player of the year trophy. The next season in AA, he hit 41 doubles, 29 home runs, and had 98 RBI. In AAA in 2011, he hit the 100 RBI plateau while posting a .326 batting average.

The only reasons why Clint never got a shot in Kansas City were because of Eric Hosmer and Billy Butler. Eric was the golden boy first round pick at first base while Billy was the seasoned vet that could only hit who had designated hitter role locked down. So, the Royals traded Clint to the Pirates after the 2011 season for a pair of players that would never wear Royal Blue.

Clint never made it with the Pirates, but he did play two full seasons in the Bigs with the Nationals in 2015-16. In his first season, he .272 with 10 home runs and 34 RBI in 126 games. In 2016, he was mainly used as a pinch hitter and his same numbers dropped to .235, 5, and 26 with 113 less at-bats. Clint would go on to spend all of 2017 in AAA before calling it a career after the season.

For his career, he was a .257 hitter with 15 home runs and 62 RBI.

Here is a below average photo of Clint about to receive his player of the year award in 2009.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

2008 Bowman, Ernesto Mejia


#BCP213 Ernesto Mejia

Here is a card that I got signed in Springdale, Arkansas in 2010. Ernesto was playing for the home team Northwest Arkansas Naturals at the time and he signed for me on the way in from warming up.

When I was looking up Ernesto's stats, I was surprised to see that he is still playing ball. At this point, I figured that he would be in an independent league by now or even Mexico. I was wrong on both of those guesses. Ernesto has spent the past five seasons with the Seibu Lions in Japan's Pacific League.

He had an off year last year, but he might have been hurt since he only played in 82 games. Two years prior, though, he had a monster season. That year, he hit .252 with 35 homers and 103 driven in. Those 35 dingers were the second most in the league and his RBI total ranked third. That is pretty impressive. And to think that I just assumed that he was a career minor leaguer that never panned out.

Ernesto is only 33 years old. I wonder if he will ever get a chance to come back to the States to play.

Arkansas is now added to the '08 Bowman map.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

2008 Bowman, Travis Banwart


#BCP206 Travis Banwart

Here is a card that I got signed in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 2010. Travis was pitching for the visiting Midland Rock Hounds that season and he had that night off. So he and Anthony Capra were charged with charting pitches in the stands for that game and he was nice enough to sign for me from the seats.

That is one of the fun things about minor league baseball. You can always find a pitcher or two in the stands. The hard part is identifying them without a uniform on. But if you can, they are usually pretty good about signing. Danny Duffy made me wait until after the game to sign for me once, but all the others signed when I asked. Just make sure to go up to them between innings so you are not distracting them.

Travis, a fellow Kansas, never made it to the Majors. He made it to AAA in 2011, but stalled out there. After three and a half seasons of AAA, he took off for Korea and pitched there for two and a half seasons. He came back in 2017 for one more year of AAA ball before ending up on his hometown Wichita Wingnuts last season.

After the Wingnuts were forced to disband after this past season, it seems like many of the players, including their manager, have ended up on the Cleburne Railroaders. Travis was on their roster, but it looks like he decided to take his game to Mexico next season. He is now signed with the Pericos de Puebla.

Friday, January 25, 2019

2008 Bowman, David Wood


#BCP201 David Wood

In 2009, St. Louis hosted the All Star Game and I thought that it would be cool to go to the event in some way, shape, or form. I didn't want to shell out the money to go to the actual game, so I decided to go to the Future's Game. The Future's Game is held on the Sunday before the All Star Game, so we left home Saturday morning and drove to Burlington, Iowa to catch a Burlington Bees game. The Bees were a Royals affiliate at the time and I thought it would be fun to see some of the up and comers at that level.

I had a great time at that game. I loved the ballpark and I did pretty well with autographs. I did not have too many cards with me to get signed, but I picked up a Bees teamset and got a lot of those signed. This is one of the cards that I actually had and I got David to sign it and his Bees card for me.

The next day, we were off to St. Louis for the Future's Game and a four hour rain delay. Since we had a six hour drive home and work on Monday, we had to skip the celebrity softball game just to get on the road at a somewhat decent time.

At the time, I had no idea about All Star Fanfest. But, I ended up going to that when it was in Kansas City and I absolutely loved it. If I had to do that weekend over again, I might choose Fanfest over Burlington. I guess it would just depend on who would be at Fanfest that day to sign.

As for David, he had an extremely short career. He hit .318 in the Arizona League in 2007 to warrant this card. He got bumped to high-A in 2008 and struggled mightily for 37 games before being demoted to rookie ball in the Appalachian League. He spent all of 2009 with the Bees and had a good season, hitting .270 with 8 home runs and 62 RBI. Then he was done with baseball. I don't know if they Royals just expected more from a college draft pick or if David decided that minor league baseball wasn't his thing. Either way, that is the shortest career of any player that I have posted from this set.

Iowa is now on the 2008 Bowman map.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

2008 Bowman, Frank Herrmann


#BCP170 Frank Herrmann

Here is a card that I got signed at a Royals game in 2010. Frank spent the second half of that season on the Indians roster and I was able to get him to sign the lone card I had of him at a late September game I attended.

Frank spent parts of four seasons in the Majors with the Indians and Phillies. Over that time, he appeared in 109 games and was 5-3 with a save and a 4.72 ERA. The last time he appeared in the Majors was with the Phils in 2016. He had a rough go in the National League, posting an 8.40 ERA in 15 innings of work.

After that season, Frank signed with Japan's Rakuten Golden Eagles and has done well in his two seasons there. This past season, he was 2-3 with 18 saves, a 1.99 ERA, and nearly a strikeout an inning. Those 18 saves lead the team and ranked fifth in the Pacific League.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

2008 Bowman, Andrew Romine


#BCP149 Andrew Romine

In 2011, a work colleague and myself decided to make a mini ballpark roadtrip. That trip consisted of all of two ballparks- Sox Stadium in Amarillo, Texas and Security Service Field in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Neither park was very memorable, but I definitely liked the one in Amarillo better. Even though it was kind of a dump, it looked and felt its age which is exactly why I wanted to go there.

Amarillo was in the American Association at the time, so there wasn't too much 'graphing to be done there. Colorado Springs, on the other hand, was still in the Pacific Coast League, so that was were the action was at on that trip. Since each team came out onto the field by their respective dugouts, you can really only 'graph one side or the other there. So, I hit up the home side and made my buddy work the visitor side for me. The visitors that day happened to be the Salt Lake City Bees and this is one of the cards my friend got signed for me.

Andrew has played in the Majors for parts of nine seasons with the Angels, Tigers, and Mariners. Over that time, he is hitting .235 with 10 home runs and 81 RBI. His best season came with the Tigers in 2017. He hit .233 that year, but had career highs in home runs (4), RBI (25), and doubles (17).

Over the years, Andrew has had the chance (or misfortune) to pitch in seven Major League games. Over those games, he has logged 5.2 innings with a 12.71 ERA, 3 homers, 5 walks, and a strikeout. The unfortunate soul that struck out- Kurt Suzuki.

It appears that Andrew is going to try his luck in the National League this year. He is a non-roster invite of the Phillies.

Here is an updated 2008 Bowman map.

Monday, January 21, 2019

2008 Bowman, Mattew Buschmann


#BCP95 Matthew Buschmann

Here is a card that was given to me from Rod, of Padrographs fame. I am not sure how he has gotten so many of these, but he has given me three signed versions of this card. I have this one chrome card and then two of the non-chrome cards that are signed.

Matt pitched in the Majors for just a cup of coffee. He made it in 2016 with the Diamondbacks and got into three games for 4.1 innings of work. In those three games, he had no record with an ERA of 2.08 and three strikeouts.

Matt pitched a scoreless inning in each of his first two appearances. In his third and final appearance, he entered the game in the second inning after Shelby Miller walked in a run with the bases loaded. Down 2-0 with the bases full, Matt struck out Wil Myers to end the side. He then got his lone plate appearance to lead off the third inning, where he grounded out to short. To open the bottom of the third, he gave up a solo home run to Matt Kemp before getting the next three batters to ground out to third. In the fourth, he got a flyout to center before striking out the next two batters. He was then pinch hit for in the fifth and that was the end of his Major League career.

On paper, it seems like Matt did well in his limited big league action. I assumed these were all September appearances after the rosters opened up, but they were actually April games. More than likely, Arizona added him to the roster as an extra bullpen arm to start the season since there is usually an extra day off during the first week. Once a fifth starter was needed, back to the minors Matt went.

That was Matt's last season playing ball.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

2008 Bowman, Dan Cortes


#BCP92 Dan Cortes

Here is a card that I got signed at Royals Fanfest in 2009. If I remember correctly, that was the first year of Fanfest. Back then, they would bring in the minor league award winners to sign and that is how I got this card signed.

2008 was when I got back into collecting autographs and the chrome cards were kind of new to me. I didn't have any experience getting them signed before this card and I had no idea of the concept of prepping cards. So, I took two of these chrome cards with me, the only two cards of Cortes that I had, and got them both signed. This one turned out okay. The other one looks horrible. But, I now know about prepping cards and I do not have an issue with chrome cards anymore. But, if given the choice, I would prefer a non-chrome card.

Dan never made it to the big leagues with the Royals, but he did see a bit of action with the Mariners. He got dealt to them for Yuniesky Betancourt during the 2009 season and made his Major League debut the following year. In his two stints with the Mariners in 2010-11, he pitched in 14 games in relief and was 0-3 with a 5.06 ERA. Sadly, the Royals won that trade.

Dan is no longer playing ball, having thrown his last inning in 2014 in the Atlantic League.

Friday, January 18, 2019

2008 Bowman, Ryan Khoury


#BCP36 Ryan Khoury

Here is a card that I got signed at a Wichita Wingnuts game in 2012. This is the only mainstream card of Ryan that was made, so I went ahead and got the x-fractor version to get signed. I think I got a regular version of the card signed, too, but that card was given away at some point.

Ryan has a stylish autograph, but this one is lacking a bit. At Lawrence-Dumont Stadium, the clubhouses are in left field. So, whenever players take the field, they usually come out carrying their bat, helmet, and glove. When Ryan signed this card, he was holding all that stuff in one hand while I held my card book for him to sign with his free hand. It still came out looking good, though.

Ryan played in the Red Sox system for six seasons, seeing action in AAA three different times. Over those six years, he was a .246 hitter with 24 home runs. He got released by the Sox during the 2011 season and caught on with a team in the Frontier League to finish the season. He then came to Wichita in 2012 and spent three years on the squad.

Ryan hit about .250 during his first two years in Wichita before breaking out in 2014. He had a career year that season, hitting .315 with 11 homers and 61 RBI en route to Wichita's lone American Association title. Ryan retired after that season.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

2008 Bowman, Danny Duffy


#BCP25 Danny Duffy

Here is a card that I got signed at Kauffman Stadium in 2011. Unlike the last card that I posted that I got signed at that park, this one was actually obtained inside of it.

When I had my last job, I usually had to work on Saturday and had Sunday off. So, for about eight years, most of the Royals games I attended were Sunday day games. It was not ideal for me since Sunday batting practice is rare and BP is the best time for 'graphing. But, you could usually count on pitchers hitting the field to get their work in, so I would mostly take cards of pitchers.

On this particular day in 2011, it was overcast with off and on rain. The White Sox were in town and the action on the Sox side of the field was not very good. I ended up on the Royals side and did much better over there. While I only got three Royals to sign for me, it was three times better than I did with the Sox. My dad spotted Danny signing, so I went over there and he signed three for me. I got lucky because it was still misting out and all three sigs came out without any issues.

Danny has been very hit and miss during his tenure with the Royals. The once prospect has dealt with some personal issues and injuries throughout his career. He is supposed to be Kansas City's top starter, but he has yet to log more than 28 starts or 180 innings. He has one double digit win season and that was the year he got demoted to the bullpen and made nearly as many relief outings as starts.

Nonetheless, I like Duffy and keep rooting for him. Every year, I am hoping it is the year that he figures it out and dominates. Hopefully 2019 is that year because the Royals are going to need him.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

2008 Bowman, Darren Ford


#BCP3 Darren Ford

Two posts ago, I mentioned the ballpark roadtrip that my buddy and I made to the Rickwood Classic in Birmingham, Alabama in 2010. The roadtrip was something we did nearly every year. But, he had a kid shortly after that and our roadtrips came to a stop. We managed a dual family roadtrip to Wrigley Field for its 100th anniversary in 2014, but it was pretty weak compared to how we used to do it.

In 2015, I jokingly texted him asking what parks we were going to check out that summer. He thought it was funny that I asked him that because he had to fly out to Seattle in a couple of months for a work seminar. The gears started turning and we managed to throw together a four day roadtrip. I flew up to Seattle to meet him and we hit up Safeco Field before renting a car and driving to Portland for a Hillsboro Hops game. We then drove down to a Sacramento River Cats game before finishing up with a Giants game. Even though the trip was on the short side by our standards, it was still the most unique one that we have had in that we flew there and back and had to rent a car. To date, that was the last trip we have been on. We might try to work out another dual family trip next year when the Rangers open their new ballpark.

Anyways, I bring all of that up because I got this card signed on that 2015 trip out west. Darren was playing for the Cats at the time and he was nice enough to sign three cards for me that evening.

Darren played in 33 games with the Giants in 2010 and 2011. Over those two short stints, he never started a game and he only got 14 at-bats. But, he did manage to get 4 hits, score 7 runs, and steal 9 bases.

Darren is still playing ball, but last season was spent in the Atlantic League. Speed is a big part of his game. He stole 36 bases last season, which gives him over 450 steals for his professional career.

Here is the updated 2008 Bowman map.