Sunday, March 31, 2019

2008 Donruss Threads, Blake Wood

#DK-5 Blake Wood

Here is the first of three cards from this set's Diamond Kings insert set. I don't remember pulling any of these inserts out of packs in 2008, so I think I bought them all just to get signed. As far as Diamond Kings go, they are pretty lackluster compared to the Diamond Kings I collected as a kid. That is Panini for you, though.

When I was looking at stats, I was shocked to see how much Blake has pitched in the Majors. He has pitched in the big leagues every year since 2010, except for 2012 and 2015. Over that time, he has pitched in 270 games with the Royals, Indians, Reds, and Angels. Despite pitching in so many games, Blake only has one Major League card- a 2010 Bowman card.

Over Blake's 270 games, he is 16-16 with 2 saves and a 4.47 ERA. His best season was probably with the Reds in 2016. That year, he had single season highs in games, innings, and strikeouts. He even managed to strikeout more than a batter an inning in the process.

I have always said that signing autographs is good karma. It seems that Major League players that sign autographs for me tend to have good games. That was certainly true in 2010 when Blake signed this card for me. Blake entered the game in the ninth inning with his Royals trailing by one run. Despite giving up two singles, he managed to get an inning ending double play and come out of the inning unscathed. When the Royals came up in the bottom half of the inning, they won the contest on an Alex Gordon walk-off home run and Blake picked up his first Major League win.

Sadly, I did not attend that game. I drove up to Kansas City in the morning and got autographs as players were entering the ballpark. Once I got what I could get, I grabbed some Chipotle and headed home.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

2008 Donruss Threads, Josh Vitters

#95 Josh Vitters

Here is another card that I got signed at the 2009 Futures Game in St. Louis. Josh was representing the USA club and was nice enough to sign three cards for me that day. A year later, he would sign two more cards for me at the Rickwood Classic in Birmingham.

Josh, a former number three pick by the Cubs, would only play in 36 Major League games. In 2012, he was tearing up the Pacific Coast League. Through 110 games, the twenty-two year old was hitting .304 with 17 home runs and 68 RBI. The Cubs called him up to the big leagues and he would hit just .121 in 99 at-bats over the final two months of the season.

It was back to the minors in 2013 and, after hitting just .213 in AAA in 2014, Josh was out of baseball.

He came back in 2016 and joined a team in the Atlantic League and he struggled. He dropped down to the American Association in 2017 and struggled there. Last season, he played in the Can-Am League and could only muster a .247 average at that level at the age of twenty-eight. I would be very surprised if he got signed by a team this year, but you never know.

Anymore, I only go 'graphing with a blue Sharpie. That obviously wasn't the case in 2009. But, the last two cards I posted from this set were signed in black and they both look great. Some sets are just like that.

Friday, March 29, 2019

2008 Donruss Threads, Jesus Montero

#80 Jesus Montero

I just got back from Opening Day in Kansas City and I had a blast. Even though the weather sucked and there was nearly a two hour rain delay, I still had a fantastic time. The 'graphing was nearly nonexistent because of the rain, but I somehow managed to get a whopping three cards signed. But, that is alright. I have done worse in better weather. Plus, I ran into Travis Kelce and had him sign my autograph book. I now have two autographs in it from football players that I have met at baseball events.

Speaking of rain delays, I once sat through a four hour rain delay after getting this card signed. Jesus signed this for me prior to the Futures Game in St. Louis in 2009. About the time that game started, the rains came and almost never let off. If it hadn't been for a six hour drive to get to St. Louis, I probably would not have waited it out. I did skip the celebrity softball game, though, because of the delay.

Jesus lasted in the Majors for parts of five seasons. He broke in with the Yankees in 2011 and got off to a good start, going 20-61 in 18 games. The Yankees then traded him to the Mariners after the season and he was the every day catcher in Seattle in 2012. He responded with a .260 average with 15 homers and 62 RBI. That was his only season as a full time player.

Jesus only played in 73 games for the M's over the next three seasons and never got it going. In 2016, the M's put him on waivers during Spring Training and Jesus never played in a Major League game after that, though he did play winter baseball this past offseason.

Jesus finished his career a.253 hitter with 28 home runs and 104 RBI.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

2008 Donruss Threads, Fernando Garcia

#78 Fernando Garcia

Here is a card that I got signed at a Burlington Bees game in 2009. I had very few cards to get signed at that game, so I bought a Bees team set just to make it worthwhile. But, it was nice to get the few cards I did take with me signed.

Fernando had a short baseball career. Drafted by the Royals in the 28th round of the 2007 draft, he would go on to play just four seasons in the organization. In his first pro season, he played in just 15 games and hit a whopping .088. Yet, somehow, Donruss decided to make a card of him.

He did slightly better the next year, hitting .238, and even better the year after that, hitting .260. In 2010, playing in high-A Wilmington, his numbers took a dip and he hit just .186. The Royals cut him loose after the season.

In 2011, Fernando would finally make it to Kansas City. But, it wasn't with the Royals, it was with the T-Bones. He did well in his limited action, hitting .303 in 24 games. After the season, Fernando retired from baseball.

In his limited action spread out over four affiliated minor league stops, Fernando managed to hit .227 with 2 home runs and 52 RBI in 691 at-bats.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

2008 Donruss Threads, Sean O'Sullivan

#67 Sean O'Sullivan

In 2011, my best friend and I took one of our annual ballpark road trips and we headed north that year. It was a short trip by our standards as we just took in a Twins game and a couple of minor league games. One of the minor league games that we saw was an Omaha Storm Chasers game.

Werner Park, the Chasers home, has one of the best set-ups for autograph collectors. Both clubhouses are in left field and the players walk down a single walkway to enter the field. Both teams use the same ramp and it is great. It can be a struggle as is gets closer to gametime, though, as there are quite a few players from both teams jamming up the walkway and you are trying to figure out who is who and find their cards. So, on that particular trip, I decided to 'graph the visiting team and I made by friend get the home team for me.

By the time Sean O'Sullivan came out, it was close to gametime and the walkway was crowded. I was able to pick Sean out of the pack and I called for him. I was getting cards signed by a visiting player at the time. He came over to me and I just played it off like I didn't call for him and pointed at my buddy. He had the card ready and handed it down and this is the end result.

With Wichita building a new ballpark, I hope that they have an entrance like Werner Park where you can 'graph both teams from one spot. It is so convenient.

As for Sean, he saw time in the Majors for parts of seven seasons with the Angels, Royals, Padres, Phillies, and Red Sox. Over that time, he was 13-23 with a 6.01 ERA. His best season was probably in 2009, his initial call-up to the Majors. He pitched in twelve games, ten starts, and was 4-2 with a 5.92 ERA. That was the only time that he threw over 50 innings in a season and had an ERA under 6.00.

I actually own a game worn Sean O'Sullivan Spring Training jersey. I picked it up for ten bucks at a Fanfest once thinking it would be easy to get signed. That never happened.

Monday, March 25, 2019

2008 Donruss Threads, Duke Snider

#13 Duke Snider

In 2008, I got back into collecting autographs in a big way. After being away from the hobby for over ten years, 2008 was a reawakening for me. I started taking cards with me to games instead of balls, I started this blog, and, maybe most importantly, I got back into through the mail autographs again.

I started sending autograph requests through the mail during Spring Training in 1988. I only got one back, but I was so excited about it that I became hooked. I kept sending out TTMs to teams into my high school years before finding other interests. Then, in 2008, I found that there were databases online with retired players home addresses. Finding that rekindled my TTM spirit and I got back at it again.

This was one of the cards that I sent out TTM in my return to the hobby. Even though this set is great for autographs, I wish I would have sent another card. Ideally, an actual card of Duke's from his playing day would have been the best option. Second best option would have been a Topps All-Time Fan Favorite card. But, I went with what I had handy and it still came out looking great. It just didn't look time specific for Duke Snider.

Nonetheless, I still love this card and am glad to have it in my collection. Duke is a Hall of Famer that had five 40 home runs seasons, six 100 RBI seasons, made eight All Star teams, and played in six World Series. He got elected to the Hall in 1980.

I do not recall paying a fee for Duke to sign this for me, but I would not be surprised if I sent a ten dollar bill along with it.

I will say that for a non-licensed Donruss set, I am surprised that you can make out most of the team name on the front of the jersey, not to mention the cap logo.

Friday, March 22, 2019

2008 Donruss Elite, Byron Wiley

#CP-23 Byron Wiley

This is my last card from 2008 Donruss Elite. Unlike all the other cards from the set that I have posted, I did not get this card signed in-person or pull it from a pack. I actually bought this card from COMC. Being a K-State grad, I just could not pass this beautiful card up. Even if it wasn't signed, I still might have bought it. Now, since the Cats got spanked today in the opening round of the tournament, there will be no more talk about them.

Byron was drafted by the Reds in the 22nd round of the 2008 draft. He lasted just three seasons in affiliated ball. Over that time, he never made it out of A ball and he hit .275 with 23 homers and 119 RBI in 191 contests. Those aren't horrible numbers. But, they are a bit skewed as he hit .328 in his first season of rookie ball and then hit 12 home runs and drove in 64 in his second pro season. In 2010, he played in just 42 games before missing all of 2011.

By the time he came back in 2012, he was playing independent ball. He played a season in the Frontier League before joining the American Association for three seasons. Coincidentally, I ran across him at a Wingnuts game once and was able to add a couple more autographs to the collection from him. But, this one is still by far my favorite. You just cannot beat a signed card with a Powercat on it.

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.