Sunday, August 23, 2015

2007 Donruss Elite, Bryan Morris

#10 Bryan Morris

Here is a card that I got signed at a Wilmington Blue Rocks playoff game in 2009. Bryan was playing for the visiting Lynchburg Hillcats at the time and he signed this card,and one other, for me before the game started.

Bryan has been playing in the Major Leagues since 2012. I, however, had no idea until I pulled a card of him out of 2013 Topps Heritage. It didn't help matters that I pulled that card in the middle of 2014..

Bryan made his Major League debut with the Pirates in September of 2012 in a game against the Cubs. He entered the game in the ninth inning with the Bucs down 7-4. He faced three batters (Luis Valbuena, Anthony Rizzo, and Alfonso Soriano) and retired them in order. He pitched in four more games that month and only gave up one earned run.

He spent most of 2013 in the Pirates bullpen and he had a very solid season. He was 5-7 with a 3.46 ERA in 65 innings. He made the postseason roster and pitched in one NLDS against the Cardinals and pitched a scoreless inning.

Last season, he was putting up similar numbers when the Pirates traded him to the Marlins in June. He had a stellar finish in Miami, going 4-1 with a 0.66 ERA over 41 innings.

This year, he has posted a 4-3 record with a 3.04 ERA over 47.1 innings so far.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

2007 Bowman's Best, Joe Gaetti

Here is a card of Gary Gaetti's son, Joe, that I got signed at a Kansas City T-Bones game in 2009. Joe was playing for the Northern League's Joliet JackHammers.

Joe was drafted by the Rockies in the twelfth round of the 2003 draft out of North Carolina State. He rose steadily up the Rockies minor league ladder and reached AAA in 2007. At that level, he hit .270 with 11 home runs and 32 RBI in 74 games. But, it was not enough as the Rockies let him go after the season.

Joe then began a whirlwind minor league journey where he played for five different organizations over the next two seasons. He saw time in the Texas League with the A's and Rangers. He played in the Eastern League with the Red Sox and Twins. Just to not leave out the Southern League, he played there too with the Rays. And for good measure, he saw some time in the Pacific Coast League and the Northen League. Joe spent 2010 in the Atlantic League before calling it a career.

His best season was with the Modesto Nuts in 2005. He hit .332 with 21 home runs and 87 RBI.

This card came out looking great signed.

Since I have posted every single card that I got signed at T-Bones games, I guess it is time to check out some picture of the T-Bones field, Community America Ballpark. The place was built in 2003 for the Bones and is in the Legends district that features shopping, dining, the Kansas Speedway, and Sporting KC's soccer stadium. The park is dug into the earth and doesn't have much view from the outside.

In 2009, Sporting KC (then the Kansas City Wizards) played at Community America Ballpark while Arrowhead Stadium was being renovated. Some changes were made to the ballpark to accommodate soccer. Bleachers were added in left field and most of the dirt was removed from the field. The diamond then resembled an astroturf field with its dirt sliding pits.

The bleachers have since been removed and the infield has returned to normal.

The clubhouses are behind the berm seating in right field which makes it easy to get autographs at the games.

I had the privilege of seeing a few Major Leaguers play at the park. In 2008, the ballpark hosted the Willie Wilson Classic old-timers game. Fergie Jenkins started the game for the green team.

In 2009, Willie Wilson played one game for the T-Bones and started in center. He went 0-1 with a strikeout.

Community American Ballpark is a great place to see a game. With so much to do in the area, it is easy to see why the T-Bones are consistently in the top third of the American Association's attendance.

2007 Bowman Sterling, Ole Sheldon

#BSP-OS Ole Sheldon

Here is another card of Ole Sheldon that I got signed at a Wingnuts game in 2010 while he was playing for the St. Paul Saints. I posted a card of Ole a few months back that I got signed at a Nuts game in 2009. That card can be seen here.

Ole's affiliated playing days came to a close in 2009. He split that season with the Saints and the Kinston Indians. Still, Ole went on to play for four seasons after that, all with the Saints. His best season in St. Paul came in 2010 when he hit .280 with 22 home runs and 79 RBI. He is the Saints all-time leader in home runs (67), RBI (271), extra base hits (154), at-bats (1367), games (355), and sac flies (15).

Ole's playing career came to an end after the 2013 season, but he still gets to suit up with the Saints players all summer as he is currently their hitting coach. He must be doing a good job, too, as the top two hitters in the league both play for St. Paul.

I am going to try to see the Saints play the Wingnuts next week if there are any '07 Bowman set builders out there that need a card signed by him.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

2007 Bowman Sterling, Jeremy Papelbon

#BSP-JPA Jeremy Papelbon

Here is the third and final Jeremy Papelbon card that I got signed at the 2010 Rickwood Classic. You can see the first card here and the second card here.

Jeremy was drafted by the Cubs in the nineteenth round of the 2006 draft out of North Florida. He signed with the Cubs shortly after and made his professional debut with the Boise Hawks that year. He had a good first season, going 4-0 with 3 saves and a 1.86 ERA over 18 games. He got bumped up to Midwest League the next season and went 9-6 with 3 saves and a 3.11 ERA.

He continued his progression in 2008 as he played high-A in the Florid State League. He went 2-1 with 2 saves and a 2.57 ERA. In 2009, he was in AA and half of his appearances were as a starter. His numbers slipped a bit and he finished with a 6-5 record with a 3.38 ERA. He pitched in two AAA games that year, as well, and did not fare too well. He pitched 4.2 inning and gave up five runs on ten hits.

He repeated AA in 2010, and his numbers got even worse than the first go-around. That year, he was 1-2 with a save and an ERA of 5.54. Jeremy ended up retiring after the season.

Jeremy is the younger brother of Jonathan Papelbon.

While Jeremy never made it to the Major Leagues, he does have a big league signature. All three sigs on the cards look nearly identical. That does not happen too much any more.

2007 Bowman Sterling, Greg Porter

#BSP-GP Greg Porter

Here is the third and final Greg Porter card that I have to show. This one was signed at at the same Wingnuts exhibition game as the last card of him I posted.

Greg was a little wearing of signing this card because of all the gloss. He actually rubbed it down a little bit before he signed it and then told me that using an eraser on it before signing works really well. Even though I use baby powder for prep now, I really had no clue about prepping cards back in 2009. I had just heard of the eraser method around that time and had actually prepped this card with one. Still, it is always cool to get some 'graphing tips from the guys doing the 'graphing.

Greg had a good season in 2006, at least good enough to get into all of the 2007 Bowman sets. 2006 was his second year in AA and he hit .298 with 20 home runs and 71 RBI for the Angles Texas League affiliate, the Arkansas Travelers. He split 2008 between AA and AAA and put up good numbers at both stops. In AAA, he hit .345 with 7 home runs and 33 RBI in 56 contests. But, the Angles let him go after the season.

He spent the next season playing AAA for the Nationals and Yankees before winding up in Wichita in 2009. He played four seasons of independent ball before retiring after the 2012 season.

I was at a Wingnuts game last week and I noticed that the club added some banners around the concourse honoring their division and league championships and some of their best players. Greg has a banner up for his stellar 2009 season when he hit .372 with 21 home runs and 86 RBI. I wish I would have taken a picture of it so show on here.

You can see the first Greg Porter card I posted here and the second one here.

Friday, August 14, 2015

2007 Bowman Heritage, Mike Thompson

#SG-MT Mike Thompson

This is the second Mike Thompson autograph that I have posted on here and both of them were given to me. I posted the first card of him back 2011. That card was given to me by Rod, of Padrographs. This one was given to me by Matt, from Heartbreaking Cards of Staggering Genius. I sent him some random cards way back when and he repaid me by sending me a couple of random autographs.

I have mixed feelings about this Signs of Greatness insert set. The design isn't bad for a signature set with the obvious white signing area. But, this Bowman Heritage set looks great signed, so the white signing area may be a little overdone. It probably comes in handy for a card of a player in a darker jersey. But, it is unnecessary on a card with a white or grey. Still, I like the look of this card better than the first Mike Thompson card I posted.

Mike last pitched professionally in 2010. After being out of baseball for a year, he joined the Atlantic League's Somerset Patriots for one season. He started 11 games for them and went 4-3 with a 4.29 ERA.

If I did not know any better, I would think that the first letter in Mike's name started with a "Z".

2007 Bowman Heritage, Greg Porter

#BHP96 Greg Porter

This is a card that I got signed signed by Greg Porter at a Wingnuts spring training game in 2009. Every year, the Nuts open their spring schedule with a game against one of the local colleges in Wichita. In 2009, they played Kansas Newman, an NAIA school. My best friend's brother-in-law was playing for Newman at the time, so we went down to the game to see him play. I took a few cards with me and this is one of the ones I got signed that day.

This is the second card of Greg Porter that I have posted. The first one was posted just a couple of months ago and that card can be seen here. I have one more Greg Porter card to post after this one and it should be up in a few days.

Greg was drafted by the Reds in the third round of the 1998 draft out of high school. He did not sign, however, and instead went to Texas A&M. He played there for three seasons before being drafted by the Angels in the 45th round of the 2001 draft. I am not sure what happened while he was in college, but his draft stock sure plummeted while at College Station.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

2007 Bowman Heritage, Jim Fasano

#BHP92 Jim Fasano

Here is a card that I got signed at an independent league game in 2009. While I do most of my minor league graphing at the American Association's club in Wichita, I got this one signed at a different spot. This card was signed at a Kansas City T-Bones game back when they were still in the Northern League. Jim was playing for the Bones at the time and he signed the card for me before hitting the field for warm-ups.

Jim was drafted by the Rangers in the ninth round of the 2004 draft out of Richmond. He made his professional debut that season and hit .266 in the Northwest League. He was bumped up to the Midwest League the following season and he hit .302 there. He spent most of 2006 in AA where he would hit just .244. He repeated AA in 2007 and his average rose to .284. But, it was not enough, and the Rangers released him after the season.

After that, he caught on with the T-Bones and he would play for them for the next four seasons before being traded to Fargo-Moorehead during the 2011 season. He did really well with the Bones and had two 20 home run seasons during his tenure there. Unfortunately, it was not enough to get him back to affiliated ball.

Jim's last season playing was in 2013 and he spent that season playing in Italy. He hit .265 for an awful team that finished the season 4-38. Yikes.

Monday, August 10, 2015

2007 Bowman Heritage, Jeremy Papelbon

#BHP83 Jeremy Papelbon

Here is the second of three cards that Jeremy Papelbon signed for me at the 2010 Rickwood Classic. If you are unfamiliar with the Rickwood Classic, it is a lone minor league game played once a year at the oldest ballpark in the United States, Rickwood Field in Birmingham, Alabama. Even though the Birmingham Barons are in their second ballpark since moving out of Rickwood in 1988, they still play one game a year there and it is a great time.

At the game I went to, they celebrated Rickwood's 100th anniversary and the teams wore uniforms from minor league teams from 1910. The Barons wore some plain looking Barons uniforms and the Tennessee Smokies wore uniforms from the Appalachians. Harmon Killebrew was there to throw out the first pitch and sign autographs during the game. I ended up spending more time going through the autograph line than watching the game.

For some reason, I never did a write-up from the game. But, I did post a few pictures from the game when I got around to posting the Harmon Killebrew card.

Jeremy Papelbon had the sense to get Harmon's autograph before the game, as well.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

2007 Bowman Heritage, Nick Van Stratten

#BHP82 Nick Van Stratten

Here is the second card that Nick Van Stratten signed for me at a Burlington Bees game in 2009. Back then, the Bees were the Midwest League affiliate for the Royals. They are currently an Angels farm team, though they had a brief affiliation with Oakland in between the two. The Royals switched their Midwest League affiliation to the Kan County Cougars in 2011 before switching over to the South Atlantic League and the Lexington Legends in 2013. Nevertheless, I still occasionally wear my Bees t-shirt that I bought at the game in 2009.

Speaking of my Bees shirt, I wore it to a Wilmington Blue Rocks playoff game later that season. Nick had been promoted to Wilmington at that point and, when he saw me in that shirt, he shouted out to me "Nice shirt!" and gave me a thumbs up.

Nick is still playing in Mexico right now for the Broncos de Tamaulipas. He is doing real well with a .378 average over 188 at-bats. A couple of his Laredo Lemurs teammates from last year are on the team with him- Travis Denker and Cesar Carrillo. Apparently playing on the Mexican border wasn't good enough for them, so they had to venture down for the real deal.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

2007 Bowman Heritage, Daniel Mayora

#BHP29 Daniel Mayora

Here is a card that I got signed at Spring Training last year. Daniel was in the Dodgers minor league camp and I was able to get this card signed as he was walking between fields.

Daniel was originally signed by the Rockies and he began his professional career for them in 2005. Eleven yeas later and, while he may not be with the Rockies organization any more, Daniel is still toiling around in the minor leagues. And, while he is at least playing affiliated baseball, he is not even playing AAA. He is in AA. In fact, Daniel has only played in 51 AAA games and they all came in 2011 while he was in the Rays organization. He hit .262 in AAA and got released by the Rays afterwards. He was then picked up by the Giants and then demoted back to AA. They released him after the season, and he spent 2013 in the Atlantic League before being picked up by the Dodgers last year. His two seasons in the Dodger organization were both spent in AA so far.

As of right now, Daniel has played in 580 AA games. He has hit .288 at that level, though he is hitting just .251 right now. You have to wonder how much more AA ball he has left in him.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

2007 Bowman Heritage, Cedric Hunter

#BHP9 Cedric Hunter

While this is not the first Cedric Hunter autograph I got, it is the newest. I got my first Hunter auto about four years ago when Rod, from Padrographs, sent me one of his customs that Cedric signed. I have yet to post that card, but here is one that Rod gave me last month.

On my trip to the west coast, I had the pleasure of meeting up with Rod at a Hillsboro Hops game. Rod came bearing gifts and added about sixty more autographs to my collection. About half of the cards he had for me came slabbed by an unknown company to me, Historic Grading and Authentication. Rod apparently picked up a lot of cards authenticated by them just because he needed one of the cards in the lot for his collection. He did not need the rest, so he handed them off to me at the game. It was very generous of him.

So far, this is the only card out of the lot that I have unslabbed. Here is a picture of what is left of the slab.

It looks like this company charges $8 to authenticate a card, but they have bulk rates, too. I am not sure what their bulk rates are, but eight bucks seems a little steep to get a card of Cedric Hunter authenticated.

To date, Cedric has played in six Major League games and they were all with the Padres in 2011. He went 1-4. He is currently playing for the Braves AAA team.