Tuesday, July 19, 2016

TTM Reflections (PT. 1)

Because my TTM and IP autographs skew towards minor leaguers, it's easy for me to lose track of the player's career after I get their autograph. I don't mean to be rude but it happens when you're focusing on hundreds upon hundreds of players at a time. While I keep up with the daily going-ons inside the Yankees organization, I don't really get to do the same with other teams. Even if they're across town.

So today I thought I'd revisit some of my old TTM returns and IP autos from days gone by. More specifically, with the players who were minor leaguers when I sent (and received) these returns, but went on to become major leaguers (or at least made their MLB debut sometime afterwards). Because while it's common knowledge that not everybody makes it to the big leagues, some do.

Let's start with a big one. Can I get a "woof" from all of you Phillies fans?
Yes, there was a point when Franco was gracious enough to sign via TTM, that was back in 2013 when he was in the minor leagues and just starting to really gain attention. Fast forward to 2016, he's a key piece of the Phillies' rebuilding process and pretty much THE reason for Phillies fans to attend games (at least offensively).

Max Kepler is a really notable prospect in that he's one of the few (possibly only) baseball player in the MLB born and raised in Germany. Back in 2009 the Twins signed him to a $800,000 USD signing bonus, the biggest ever given to an international amateur free agent out of Europe (before Italy's Marten Gasparini broke it with his $1.3 million bonus). Since then Kepler has steadily climbed the ranks and prior to the season was seen as a top 100 prospect. Currently he's being yo-yo'd up and down triple-A and the big leagues. He's really good. He demolished the Yankees this year (although that's not saying much).

Yung Joc Pederson, before he had his hot 2015 start that made people call him a Rookie Of The Year candidate and earned him an All Star Game nod before the wheels fell off. Currently he's still a pretty serviceable outfielder. Although he was placed on the 15 Day DL last week.

Jose Berrios man, he's so so good. For the rebuilding Twins Berrios' development is key. And Berrios got his first taste of the big leagues earlier this year. His first four starts were a bit, ick, but that's probably just because of the whole getting used to the big leagues thing. He's still quite young enough to figure things out and turn out just fine. Although he's continuing to show that he has nothing left to prove at triple-A.

This R.J. Alvarez is special in that it was my first ever TTM return back in 2013. Yep, my first one ever. Anyway Alvarez has already been swapped from various teams. In 2013 he's with the Angels, in 2014 he's with the Padres, in 2015 he's with the Athletics, and here in 2016 he's with the Cubs. Still, the righty is still hustling as a reliever and he has the MLB debut (back in 2014) to show that he's at least been able to make it to the top.

Michael Fulmer was once a Mets pitching prospect, now he's a world-beating pitcher for the Detroit Tigers, with a bushy beard too. Fulmer is now the latest poster boy for why teams can get a ton in return at the trade deadline for a rental. Fulmer spent a few years in the Mets org before being traded to Detroit in the Yoenis Cespedes trade last year. For the most part that deal has worked out rather well for both parties. Cespedes got red hot for the Mets and Fulmer is an AL Rookie of the Year candidate this year. Or he would be if the Tigers were actually contenders (because that type of stuff matters apparently).

While the R.J. Alvarez was the first return I ever got, this Tommy Joseph was the first request I ever sent. At the time (2013) Joseph was the key prospect traded to the Phillies in the Hunter Pence trade (the one where Pence became a SanFran Giant). Joseph was seen as a top tier catching prospect who was a bat first, defense is okay catcher. However he kind of fell off due to various issues ranging from offensive struggles to eye issues. However Joseph did make it to the big leagues with the "why the fuck not?" Phillies and did see some success. Although he has been slumping in recent times. Still, this Joseph is special and a call back to the minor league scene in 2013.

Every now and then I tend to allow certain returns to get lost in the mix of really big TTM return sprees. This return from A.J. Reed from about two years ago is one of them. Depending on who you ask, Reed is one of the Astros' top 5 or top 3 prospects. Reed can straight up mash the ball with his plus plus power. He's also an all around good hitter as he can probably hit for contact and he also takes his fair share of walks. Defensively he's a solid first baseman, which isn't too great, but if his bat pans out it won't matter. Anyway, Reed has been in the big leagues for the last few weeks. His numbers at the big league level are kind of meh/bleh, but there's a lot of hope that AJ Reed can be the players the Astros thought Jon Singleton was going to be.

Tony Kemp, a former Vanderbilt outfielder turned Houston Astro.
Kemp climbed the Astros ladder diligently and was rewarded with a big league call up earlier this year. Kemp is a really solid second baseman who has speed, a good bat which hits for contact and takes a lot of walks. Kemp's in a tough spot with Jose Altuve in front of him at second base, but the Astros see the value in a guy like Kemp and have been transitioning him to the outfield.

Currently the Cleveland Indians are abundant with tons of good starting pitching, Danny Salazar here is one of those good starting pitchers.
Salazar's minor league career wasn't exactly the best. The D.R. native signed back in 2006 but his rise was slow. In 2010 he had to undergo Tommy John surgery and that just halted his development even more. However, Salazar managed to come back strong and changes like improving his breaking pitches have turned Salazar into one of the most coveted arms the Indians have. Salazar made it to the big leagues in 2013 and established himself as a bonafide starter in 2015. This year he was selected to his first all star team.

It seems so long ago that Dilson Herrera was a Pirates farmhand.
Herrera hails from Columbia and was a hitting machine in the lower parts of the minors. In 2013 Herrera was traded to the Mets in the Marlon Byrd/John Buck deal. Herrera projects to be a really good hitter for the Mets going forward. Defensively he's got some improvements to make but the potential is there. Herrera made his MLB debut back in 2014 but he's yet to play at the level again this year. He was picked for the Futures Game again this year though.

The most recent MLB call up in my TTM/IP collection to date here's Mets farmhand Seth Lugo.
Seth Lugo is one of the biggest and best draft steals in a while. Lugo was drafted by the New York Mets in the 34th round of the 2011 MLB Player Draft. Despite that he defied the odds and made it to the big leagues this year. This was despite a major surgery that took him out of action for all of 2012 too I might add. With his low-90's fastball, curveball, slider and change up, he became a surprisingly useful starter in the minors and although he's only appeared in relief at the big league level so far, it'll be fun to see how much better the Lugo story goes from here.

And that was my first batch of minor league TTM returns from guys who've actually been able to make it to the big leagues.

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


  1. Good post! There's some big names in there. Cool to look back at them after the fact.

  2. Great post! Hope Berrios figures out big league hitters.

    1. I hope so too. There's not much else he can learn at triple-A.

  3. Herrera can't escape being blocked by Pirates. Neil Walker is in his way now!

    I think my favorite of the cards shown is the Fulmer Sand Gnats card.

    1. I'm sure Herrera will get his chance eventually. He is cheaper than Walker after all.