Wednesday, August 24, 2016

21 Autographs

Yesterday I went to my first Staten Island baseball game in weeks. Look, I've been busy this summer okay? Stop staring at me like that!

Anyway the summer is nearing an end which means that I only have a limited number of Staten Island Yankees games left. Every one counts. Especially now that the official Staten Island team set is out. Obviously I got to work on that this time. As the title suggests I got 21 signatures, and you bet I'm showing them all.

First I got David Sosebee.
The Staten Island Yankees (and most minor league parks) do this cool thing where they set up a table on the concourse of the stadium so that fans can get two of the players chosen to be there's autographs. David Sosebee was one of them. Sosebee was the Yankees' 28th rounder last year and he's done pretty well in the Staten Island bullpen this year.

Next I made my way over to the dugout and got Drew Bridges.
Bridges was the Yankees' 20th round pick in 2013. Bridges possess some potential with the bat. He's improved quite a lot from last year and is one of the better hitters on the team this year. He was so good that he was picked to the NYPL All Star Game last week. Dude's a pretty nice guy and it'd be nice to see him get rewarded for his improvements.
Sidenote, dig the jersey on Bridges. I believe this was a jersey worn by the SI Yanks on July 10th to support the Special Olympics NYC.

Pretty cool.

Next up is Kane Sweeney is a special Star Wars Night themed jersey.
Kane Sweeney's had an alright season this year. He has a fair amount of power and can handle himself just fine at first base. He was even promoted to Charleston for a brief while this year.

Here's the manager, Mr. David Bialas.
Bialas is really nice. He was a long time org player in the Cardinals farm system and eventually made a name for himself as a coach after his playing career ended. Some Padres and Cubs fans might remember him as their bullpen coach.

Next I got Nick Solak.
Solak was drafted by the Yankees in the second round this year. He's arguably the SI Yankees' top prospect, and definitely the top hitting prospect on the team. Offensively he's having a great season and he was even selected to the NYPL All Star Game. Also he got a card in the NYPL Top Prospects set. In an organization jammed with high quality infielders, Solak adds yet another layer of depth at second base.

While we're here, let's briefly talk about the card design for the SIY team set this year. I love it. It reminds me of Stadium Club with it's full bleed photography. Also dig the white area on the bottom where the signatures can go. That's a very cool touch and I like it.

Oh and here's the back if you were curious about what the backs looked like. Very spiffy in my opinion.

Next I got David Palladino.
At 6'8" Palladino is huge with lots of potential on the mound (the Yankees really love their tall pitchers). Palladino's days as a starter are largely over and now the Yankees have converted him into a reliever in order to see if he can be of use out of the bullpen in the future. Hey, it worked with Betances.

The starter for the game was Freicer Perez.
Armed with a fastball that can reach 99 mph, curveball and change up. At 6'8" he's also a giant who possesses so much potential as well. So much so that he was even one of the Yankees' top 30 prospects on before the trade deadline happened. Perez has been one of the more interesting pitchers on the SI Yanks this year. With a good season under his belt, it wouldn't surprise me if he reached Domingo Acevedo levels of hype soon.

Here is Ben Ruta.
Ruta was drafted by the Yankees in the 30th round this year. Ruta's been used in more of a fourth/fifth outfielder role this year so it's tough to gauge what exactly the Yankees have in him. Ruta used to go to Wagner College which was one of the colleges close enough to Staten Island so that Wagner's baseball club could play at the SI ballpark against the SI Seahawks, meaning he used to play in the SIY ballpark before as an amateur.

Eduardo Navas is an interesting lower level catcher for the Yankees. It appears as though he could fill a Kyle Higashioka-type of org guy/org catcher role going forward.

Here's Brian Trieglaff.
Trieglaff was drafted by the Yankees in the 13th round this year. The former TCU reliever has had his moments in the SIY bullpen. The sample size so far is too small to indicate what happens next year. I will say this though, Brian was a pretty cool dude and was really nice.

Another catcher, Jerry Seitz.
Seitz is another interesting lower level catcher in the org. It's far too early to even remotely guess who or what Seitz is. But in limited chances he's done pretty well this year.

Next is Brooks Kriske.
Brooks Kriske has been low-key one of the better relievers on the team this year. Striking out a batter an inning, the college reliever and his low 90's fastball could turn out to be a dependable middle reliever in the big leagues one day.
Also, another cool jersey!

Here's another cool jersey and cool guy, Radley Haddad.
The non-drafted free agent catcher has had a career thus far as an org-guy filling the catching spot on rosters. Considering how much the Yankees have concentrated on the development of catching prospects like Montero/Sanchez/Romine/Murphy/Torrens, guys like Haddad are important in terms of depth and just plugging in roster holes. Also, as previously stated, Haddad is a cool dude. I wish him the best.

This isn't really an autograph, more of just an inscription on a certified autograph.
Nathan Mikolas came to Staten Island earlier this month and I've been meaning to get him to inscribe the certified 2014 Bowman Chrome autograph I had of his. He did and I like it. It's another big addition to my inscribed certified autograph collection.

Here the position player-turned-pitcher, Claudio Custodio.
Claudio Custodio has been in the Yankees system for a while now. Originally he was signed as a position player but after his bat never came around the Yankees turned him into a pitcher. Custodio's had some success in the bullpen.

The former top prospect and current hitting coach, Eric Duncan.
Fans of the Yankees probably remember Duncan from his days as a top prospect back in the mid 2000's. Unfortunately his career never turned out that way but Duncan is still playing a pivotal role as a coach and in developing players so they can reach their full potential.
I asked Mr. Duncan for an inscription and he delivered. What a cool guy.

Angel Aguilar has some impressive power. The key going forward will probably be hitting consistently. He hit well enough in the GCL but he hasn't quite replicated that success in Staten Island or Charleston. That said, the guy is still 21 and has been pushed aggressively so far. Now that he's at an age appropriate level it'll be interesting to see if his development really takes off.

Yancarlos Baez, another notable top international prospect the Yankees had.
Baez hasn't had the best season to date but he has had his moments like a walk-off hit. It's still too early to write off Baez though. The Yankees didn't give him a big bonus for nothing.

Kendall Coleman has been used in a fourth outfielder role this season but he's still not without promise. Coleman has the defensive chops to be an outfielder and he certainly has power. BTW, Kendall drove in the one run scored in the game yesterday, the walk off hit in the bottom of the ninth. He's also a pretty nice dude and easy to interact with. Also, another Star Wars Night jersey!

My last autograph of the day was Timmy Robinson.
The 21st rounder of this year has had an okay pro debut. He's been pretty much the SI Yankees' everyday center fielder and he's hitting relatively consistently with power. That's impressive. I'm very eager to see where his development goes.

And that was my haul for yesterday. I still have a few more cards in the team set to go. Hopefully I can finish it off next time.

The game itself appeared to be a pitching battle.
Once again I left after the first inning but according to the final box score it was a Staten Island Yankees victory by a score of 1 to 0 over the Aberdeen Ironbirds (Orioles affiliate). Perez and Justin Kamplain kept the Ironbirds scoreless for nine innings and the Yankees won in walk off fashion.

I actually managed to find two used baseballs in the stands today as I was waiting for players to come out. Pretty lucky eh? For price balls these two are some of the cleanest baseballs I ever held. Of course they have marks and dirt and everything and were obvious used, but the fact that you can make out all those words (also note how good the MiLB logo is), means that these were relatively new or unused before going to the stands.

And that was my latest SI Yankees game. As always thanks for stopping by and take care :).

2016 IP Auto Count: 57

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

My First #ToppsNow Card

Throughout the year I've largely ignored #ToppsNow. It's focused on the current events of the latest going-ons in the big leagues. That doesn't suit my collection at all.

But there have been cards that caught my attention and eventually I succumbed to buying one card that fits into my collection.

What could it have been? Could it be the card commemorating A-Rod's last game? Gary Sanchez's home runs? Aaron Judge's home run? Tyler Austin's home run?


Of course I went for the card that commemorated Ichiro's 3000th MLB hit. I just had to. It's one of the coolest moments of the season and quite frankly the kind of moment Topps now was made for. This is a real historical moment in time, not some no-name like Wainwright throwing 7 innings of one run ball.

The back looks like this. A picture of Ichiro's teammates all coming out to greet and congratulate Ichiro (with Dee Gordon at the forefront) as well as the Rockies scoreboard that commemorated Ichiro's achievement. I found it cool that the picture even used a picture of Ichiro as a Yankee and as some other team he used to play on.

In retrospect I probably should've bought more than one copy. Lord knows that I could flip these for quite the pretty penny in Japan if I wanted to. And maybe I should've, but that's not who I am as a collector so for now I'm just satisfied with the lone copy I had.

I didn't really know what to expect with Topps Now but now that I have one in my hand, I think it's pretty cool. The surface is very glossy and feels almost Chrome-ish. I can't see myself buying anymore ToppsNow cards this year, but for now I like this Ichiro.

Of course the fact that a card I ordered earlier in the month took this long to get to me is something that irks me (Ichiro's since hit 8 more hits) but whatever. I still like this card itself.

As always thanks for stopping by and take care :).

Monday, August 22, 2016

Card Show Pickups: Meeting A Fellow Blogger

This year has been all about refraining from spending money on baseball cards for me. I think I've spent relatively little on cards this year (don't quote me on that) and a big reason is probably because I don't go to the card show anymore.

In ye olden times I'd go to every card show. IP autographs, fun pickups, trade bait for fellow collectors, the works.

In recent times I'm finding that the shows are very lackluster. For one thing the local shows skew more towards major leaguers or vintage. That's all fine and dandy but that doesn't help me. Especially not if the major leaguers are overpriced and the vintage (more specifically post-WWII vintage) market has a chance of bottoming out when the older generations die out.
For another thing, the card show doesn't even have decent trade bait offerings anymore. I need Buccos, Cubbies and Doyers of a reasonable quality at bargain rate prices. New York used to offer that because those teams sucked. Also the entrance fee is too expensive (you know how much I could buy with $10?!).

But I decided to go this time for the heck of it. I needed some Luis Torrens cards and maybe the card show might be able to offer me some needs (spoilers, it didn't).

Also, I got to meet Drew from Drew's Hot Corner. This marks the second time I've met a blogger live in person and the first time I've done so on US soil.

I gave Drew one or two cards that I saved for him and we walked around the show talking baseball, cards, life in general, etc... It was pretty fun since Drew and I are pretty much around the same age (I'm as old as James Kaprielian, he's as old as Drew Finley).

One of the key pickups was this Ian Clarkin refractor auto. I traded some prospect cards including two Gary Sanchezes and a Dominic Smith auto (NYM). Unless the autograph is less than $2, I always opt for trades. This one just helped me be one step closer to completing the 2013 Bowman Chrome Yankees team set (more on that another time).

I guess the other key pickup was this Topps Chrome autograph of James Pazos. Pazos' signature has eluded me for basically forever and it was nice to get this out of the way.

Also here's Brandon Laird. I needed this for the 2011 Bowman Chrome Yankees Prospect team set. This is the refractor version as well numbered 284/500. Laird played for the Yankees and Astros before going over to Japan. He seems to be doing okay with the Nippon Ham Fighters.

Also this Yimi Garcia to serve as trade-bait for LAD collectors.

Drew and I walked around the various stands and bins for nearly two hours. There were zero dime boxes or any real bargain bins. There were some nice deals here and there but nothing that either of us ABSOLUTELY NEEDED TO HAVE LIKE OMG!!! We talked to some dealers, brought up prospect conversations. In the end I was able to convince some that Torrens is going to be the hybrid of Johnny Bench and Ted Williams.

So all in all I spent the same amount of money as the entrance fee (I bought some supplies too). I was prepared to sell some cards just in case something noteworthy came up but that wasn't the case this time.

So after that Drew showed me his famous Mickey Mantle photograph with an autograph of basically every notable Yankee ever (that's still alive) on it. He had just gotten Bernie Williams on it earlier in the day and it was a pretty cool piece.

After we said our goodbyes in the parking lot I went to a local Target to get some food and to get some cards. I found a 24-card rack pack of Topps Bunt for $3. I decided to take a shot on it.

I got four Yankees. None of which I'd call remotely close to favorites (TLC is getting most of them though).

Some hall of famers.

These inserts are kind of meh to me.

I think I got something good here. Apparently these are called a "platinum parallel" and are included in one in every 16 packs according to the odds. Unfortunately it's Salvador Perez who has some of the worst plate discipline on Earth. Oh well, we all know who the REAL greatest catcher from Venezuela will be anyway.

All in all it was a pretty good day. I met a fellow blogger and that made an otherwise lackluster card show better.

As always thanks for stopping by and take care :).