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.