Wednesday, August 28, 2019

2008 Tristar Projections, Carlos Triunfel

#370 Carlos Triunfel

Here is the last single card post from this set. Then, I will do a "rest of" post before moving on- moving on to another Tristar set, Prospect Plus.

So, here is a card that I got signed at a Sacramento River Cats game in 2015. Carlos was playing with the Cats at the time and was nice enough to come over and sign the two cards of him that I had.

Carlos played parts of three seasons, from 2012-14, with the Mariners and Dodgers. Over that time, he appeared in just 39 games with nearly half of those with the M's in 2013. In his 39 games, he got 81 at-bats with 13 hits. Along with his .160 average, he also had a home run and 6 RBI. His lone home run was a solo shot off of Colorado's Tammy Kahnle in Denver.

Carlos kept playing ball through last season, spending last year with the New Jersey Jackals of the Can-Am League.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

2008 Tristar Projections, Eddie Kunz

#243 Eddie Kunz

In 2009, I went down to Houston for my cousin's wedding. While it was before the baseball season officially started, it was really good timing because the Astros were in town. They had wrapped up their Grapefruit League schedule and went home to Minute Maid Park for two exhibition games before the season got underway. During one of those games, Minute Maid hosted Astros Fanfest.

Strosfest was way different than Royals Fanfest. The biggest difference was that it was held during a ballgame. Because of that, no current Astros players participated. So, it was only alumni that signed. Some signed for free and some costs money. It was a rather busy afternoon with running around getting alumni autographs, a baseball game in the background, and a card show at the event. But, it was a great time and I got a lot of cool autographs from the alumni signings, including a couple of '81 Donruss cards. Plus, I pulled this card out of a pack from the card show.

Eddie was drafted by the Mets at the end of the first round of the 2007 draft. In 2008, he was making his Major League debut with them and would appear in four games and post a 13.50 ERA with a strikeout in 2.2 relief innings. Sadly, that would be the only time he pitched in the Majors.

Usually, when a players gets to the top that quick, they tend to stick around a bit. But, not Eddie. He spent 2009 in AAA before spending all of 2010 in AA. Prior to the 2011 season, he was dealt to the Padres and would repeat AA. 2012 was split between AA and AAA and Eddie called it quits after that season.

In case you are wondering, Eddie's one Major League strikeout was Marlins pitcher, Josh Johnson.

Friday, August 23, 2019

2008 Tristar Projections, Jeremy Hellickson

#208 Jeremy Hellickson

Here is a card that I got signed at a Royals game in 2010 while Jeremy was a rookie with the Rays. It was a Sunday day game, so I was trying to get pitchers down the line in the outfield. When Jeremy came over to sign, I handed him my card book and Sharpie. I always try to take the cap off of the Sharpie just to make it easier for the players. On that day, Jeremy didn't realize that I took the cap off for him and he tried to take it off himself. Instead, all he did was get blue Sharpie all over his hand. When he realized what he had done, he just looked up at me and gave me a dirty look. It was quite funny.

Jeremy pitched for the Rays for five seasons, going 40-36 with a 3.78 ERA. The Rays traded him to the Diamondbacks after the 2014 season and he has bounced around a bit since then. Besides playing for the D-Backs, he has seen time with the Phillies, Orioles, and Nationals, his current team. But, this season has basically been a wash for him as he has been on the injured list since late May (I think that is the first time Injured List has been used on here). For his career to date, Jeremy is 76-75 with a 4.13 ERA. He was the 2011 American League Rookie of the Year and he won a Gold Glove in 2012.

Jeremy is pictured with the Columbus Catfish on this card. Unfortunately, the Catfish no longer exist. They left Georgia after the 2008 season and became the Bowling Green Hot Rods.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

2008 Tristar Projections, Wade Davis

#201 Wade Davis

Here is a card that I got signed at Royals Fanfest in 2013. At the time, Wade had just come over from the Rays. He was basically a throw-in in the Wil Myers/James Shields trade. There wasn't any real expectations for him except to help fill in the rotation. Absolutely no one envisioned that he was going to be a dominant reliever that would anchor a bullpen that would lead the Royals to back-to-back World Series appearances, let alone revolutionize how a bullpen could be used.

While with the Rays, Wade was a starter for his first two plus years before moving to the bullpen for his last season in Tampa Bay. As a starter, he was 25-22 with a 4.22 ERA and 254 strikeouts in 388.1 innings of work. Then, out of the 'pen, he was 3-0 with a 2.43 ERA and 87 K's in just 70.1 innings of work. Why the Royals would want to move him back to the rotation is beyond me. They probably just lacked rotation depth and needed a starter.

So, Wade started his Royals career as a starter and made 24 starts in 2013 and also had 7 relief appearances at the end of the year. As a starter, he was 6-10 with a 5.67 ERA with 107 strikeouts in 125.1 innings. In his brief time out of the 'pen at the end of the year (after missing a month of the season to injury), he was 2-1 with a 0.90 ERA and 7 strikeouts in 10 innings.

The Royals kept him in the bullpen the following year and the rest is history. For three seasons of relief work out of the Kansas City 'pen, Wade would go 19-4 with 47 saves, a 1.18 ERA, and 234 strikeouts in 182.2 innings. On top of that, he only allowed three home runs. And, as if you thought those numbers were lights out, he was even better in the postseason.

During the Royals two postseason runs, Wade was 2-0 with 4 saves with a 0.36 ERA and 38 strikeouts in 25 innings of work. Those numbers just look unreal.

The Royals traded Wade to the Cubs before the 2017 season and he signed with the Rockies last year where he would lead the National League in saves. But, he is having a rough go of it this year and is not the team's closer and is sporting a non Wade Davis-like ERA of 7.43.

In case you are wondering, this card has an error on the back. It lists Wade's birth date as 9/8/89 when it is actually 9/7/85.

Monday, August 19, 2019

2008 Tristar Projections, Balbino Fuenmayor

#182 Balbino Fuenmayor

Here is a card that I got signed at a Burlington Bees game in 2009. Actually, my dad got this card signed for me. The Bees were a Royals affiliate at the time, so I was on that side of the field getting Bees autos. I sent my dad over to 'graph the visiting Lansing Lugnuts side for me and he was able to get two cards signed for me. This is obviously one of those cards.

If you have never heard of Balbino, you are missing out on an interesting story. The Blue Jays signed Balbino out of Venezuela in 2006 and he spent seven seasons in the Jays system. The only problem was that he never made it out of A ball. In fact, he spent parts of four seasons with Lansing. So, the Jays let him go and it was off to the independent leagues. Over a two year stretch, he played in the Can-Am League, American Association, and the Frontier League.

He did good enough there to get a look by the Royals in 2015 and made their AA team out of Spring Training. He then proceeded to tear up the Texas League and found himself playing for the World Team at the Future's Game during the All Star break. For that season, that was split between AA and AAA, Balbino ended up batting .341 with 17 home runs. He would then spend all of 2016 in Omaha where he hit .291 with just 6 homers.

The Royals released him after that season and he hasn't played affiliated ball since. But, he is still playing and is tearing up the Mexican League this summer. Through 99 games, Balbino is batting .329 with a career high 30 home runs. Being just twenty-nine years old, there still may be hope for him to return to affiliated ball.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

2008 Tristar Projections, Eric Duncan

#175 Eric Duncan

It was bound to happen. When you make a minor league set, you know going into it that not every player is going to make it to the Majors. Here is the first player from this set that I have posted that never made it.

Eric is pictured with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees on this card and I actually got it signed at a SWB Yankees game. What are the odds of that? Well, to be exact, my buddy got it signed at the game. I was busy 'graphing the visiting Durham Bulls and he was nice enough to grab a few 'graphs for me from the Yankee side.

Eric was the Yankees first round pick in 2003. He was a top 100 prospect for a couple of seasons and got his first taste of AAA in 2006. Then he got stuck in AAA and was there through the 2009 season, which is when he signed this card. The Yankees released him after that season and he went on to play three more years of AA ball with three different organizations before calling it a career.

It is hard to tell in the scan, but this card is a reflective parallel.

The Yankees still have their AAA team in SWB, but they have ditched the Yankee name. They are now the Rail Riders.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

2008 Tristar Projections, Jordan Brown

#170 Jordan Brown

Here is a card that I got signed at an Iowa Cubs game in 2011. Jordan was playing for the visiting Nashville Sounds at the time and was nice enough to sign three cards for me that day.

Jordan spent parts of two seasons in the Majors. He saw time with the Indians in 2010 and the Marlins in 2013. During those two seasons, he hit .225 with 7 RBI. Though he never hit a dinger at the Major League level, he did manage to swat 8 doubles and those made up a quarter of his hits. Jordan last played professionally in 2014.

For whatever reason, it seems like the Nashville Sounds are the minor league team that I have seen play the most, with the exception of Omaha. And I have never been to a game in Nashville. That will all change next year when the Baby Cakes move to Wichita. They should pass Omaha and Nashville unless the 'graphing their is just terrible. They are going to have netting from foul pole to foul pole, so who knows.

Speaking of Wichita baseball, they are slowly releasing seven finalists for the team name. The first one came out last week and it is the Wichita River Riders. While I do not hate the name, AAA baseball already has the Rail Riders and I don't think it needs another name that sounds so similar. To make matter worse, the River Riders have an awful logo that looks more like a logo for the River Festival than a professional sports franchise.

As for the Akron Aeros, whom Jordan is pictured with here, they are still the AA affiliate for the Indians. But, they changed their name and are now the Rubberducks. In case you didn't know that Rubberducks was one word, now you know.

Friday, August 9, 2019

2008 Tristar Projections, Matt Antonelli

#124 Matt Antonelli

Here is a card that I purchased when making a COMC order in 2012. For the longest time, I always felt like I needed to buy an autograph whenever I made a purchase on there. Because of that, I bought a lot of Bowman and Topps Pro Debut autos that I really didn't need. So, I have discontinued that practice. But, I will occasionally buy an auto with my purchase. Those, though, tend to be of guys I collect in some way, shape, or form. On the bright side, this card only set me back 95 cents. It's listed as $2.43 right now.

Matt had the privilege of playing 23 Major League games with the Padres in 2008. During that time, he hit just .193 with a homer and 3 RBI. His one dinger was a two-run shot off of Jason Hirsch at Coors Field.

Despite never making it back to the Major Leagues, Matt continued to play ball up into the 2013 season.

This card features Matt with the San Antonio Missions, who were the Padres AA team at the time. The Missions are still around and they got bumped up to AAA this season, though they still play in an AA ballpark. The Missions are now the Brewers top affiliate.

For some reason, Tristar did not list a position on cards for this set.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

2008 Tristar Projections, Duane Below

#62 Duane Below

First off, I fianlly made it back home after a little ballpark trip with the family. I have always wanted to take my dad to Wrigley Field and I finally had that chance last week. Chicago is about twelve hours away from here. So, with my three year old, I had to break the drive down in segments so we would all survive. Because of that, the five day trip took us to four ballparks. Besides Wrigley, we took in Busch Stadium, Bosse Field in Evansville, Indiana and Impact Field in Rosemont, Illinois. Personally, I had a blast. I am not too sure about my fourteen year old and wife, though. But, I am glad that they came along, nonetheless.

As far as this card, I got it signed at a Royals game in 2011. Duane was with the Tigers at the time and he signed two of these cards for me before the game started. I still have the other one he signed, so it is available to anybody that needs it.

Duane pitched in the Majors for parts of three seasons with the Tigers and Marlins. In that time, he pitched in 44 games (3 starts) and was 2-4 with a 4.27 ERA. He last pitched in the Majors in 2013 and has pitched in Korea and Japan since then. He is still playing now as he is working on stepping off of the rubber to throw to first in the Atlantic League.