Friday, October 20, 2017

Failure & Success

Topps Update 2017 is out now and Luis Torrens cards have started hitting the market (although not at the rate I want it to TBH).

I went to Chameleon Cards & Comics again to pick up some Update packs hoping to pull a Torrens base for my collection.

I got jack instead. The Cody Bellinger rookie is a nice consolidation prize and will be sent to the first Dodgers fan who can send me the Torrens rookie card they don't need (I'm assuming it'll be Night Owl Cards since he is always pulling players on teams he doesn't like).

I did also get this nice card of Jordan Montgomery. Although it's also a frustrating card when you consider that it came *extremely* close to having a wonderful full-body shot of Monty in his followthrough, but for whatever reason his left foot got chopped in half. If I had to guess they cropped out his left toes to make room for the RC logo. Which is dumb when you consider all of the real estate the rest of the card had to offer for it.

Monty was exactly what NYY needed as the 4th/5th arm in the rotation. He won't be anything flashy but he'll be a long term fixture going forward.

I also got this great card of Domingo German. In a year where so many of the Yankees prospects I've followed for years made it to the big leagues, German's is probably the most surprising considering how he was dangerously close to flop territory a few times. German has had his ups and downs in relief this year. Big part of that is that he's a starter. I expect him to get some more starts as NYY officially gives up on experimenting with Luis Cessa and Chad Green as starters.

Some more nice cards from my failed break. Ian Happ has been hapless in the playoffs and I'm not sure what's causing it (lack of playing time? bad luck? ill-timed slump?). Reynaldo Lopez will be an interesting arm for White Sox going forward, he has Jose Quintana levels of potential.

This card was such a tease. I thought I finally pulled Torrens in the very last card of my eight-pack break. It even had a RC logo! Instead I got Dinelson Lamet :P.

Well that was extremely unsatisfying and a waste of $20 (note to self, no more hobby shop packs ever again).

The Torrens RC eludes me but luckily a friend of mine in Japan pulled one for me :)! The key now is getting the parallels, one of which involves my first trade with one of the biggest names in this corner of the blogopshere (hint).

But while that trade continues to get worked out, I can beef up the "depth" of my collection by really going to town on doubles.

I got more Torrens cards from the same seller who sold me the last cards I blogged about. Apparently they bought into LT a bit back in 2014. Then 2015-17 happened and now they're selling off their stash for personal reasons. Some of it is still on eBay for those who are interested (among other pretty great deals in general).

One of the key cards acquired this time was my second copy of this retail exclusive yellow refractor. For the longest time this parallel was the only thing keeping me from completing the non-auto rainbow. I eventually tracked one down but now I have one more.

These are rare since they're limited to 10 copies and now I have one fifth of the print run. It was also mine for less than what other sellers have been asking for it for the last year or so.

The following cards I'm about to show are all from the same lot. Which was a huge deal to me considering what was inside.

This card was not a dupe. To probably my eternal regret, I passed on the 2013 BoChro mini set upon it's release and I'm slowly backtracking to get the parallels I need. Like this orange mini here.

It's limited to 15 copies so no wonder I didn't see too many of them pop up.

Dupes, but low numbered dupes! The red wave and orange ice parallels are both limited to 25 copies (07/25 and 10/25) respectively.

My second gold refractor. This one is numbered 14/50.

My second blue refractor. Numbered 154/250.

My third refractor autograph from 2013 BoChro, this one is numbered 442/500.

And my eighth base autograph from 2013 BoChro.

Seriously, the last seven cards I just showed were fantastic and all came from the same lot. The best part is that they cost less than a rack pack.

See, this reinforces my theory that pack/box breaking is a sucker's game. The only real reason we do it is because either A). you're rich enough that you don't care, or B). there's that little gambler inside your head telling you you'll pull something you need or something great in your pack. Although I will admit that I end up listening to that voice way too much too :P. I spent roughly the same amount of $ on the packs as I did on the Torrens singles, and it's clear which gave me more quality.

AND quantity.

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

Friday, October 13, 2017


Recently the checklist for 2017 Topps Update Baseball came out (PDF). I checked it out and was ecstatic to see that US32 is none other than LUIIIIISSSSSSSSSSSS Torrens!

It's happened folks! After a three year hiatus, Torrens is back on cardboard! Woof!

According to Cardboard Connection there are parallels, I count about 15 of them. You bet that I'm going to go after them all. Part of me wonders if I should take this opportunity to go full on Tim Wallach Collector and declare that I'm going after every copy of the rookie card (base or otherwise) in existence. But based on what P-Town Tom has told me I'd probably lose my mind.

Anyway Update doesn't come out for another week or so so to kill time and ease the anticipation, I picked up some distractions.

Right off the bat we have my second ever On Fire Black autograph of Torrens from 2014 Leaf Valiant. I already had another copy thanks to Bob Walk The Plank from several years ago, but I recently found an offer that was WAY too good to pass up. How good? It was less than a rack pack.

Making this that much sweeter is that this puppy is numbered 4 of 5. Yup, I got a great deal on a numbered autograph limited to five copies!

I was already happy about that the black fire was part of a two card lot that also featured this orange On Fire diecut (numbered 25/50). This is like the fifth copy of this card I've owned. If I hadn't already given one copy to Torrens himself I might've been tempted to go after the complete 50 card print run.

In the meantime I guess I can consider completing this print run. The two you see there are the 3rd and 4th copies. Three more to go!

I also recently decided to make a quantity over quality purchase. I lucked out on getting five of these BoChro autographs for cheap (by Luis standards).

The rainbow for this will take the longest, but at long last I am starting to make progress on hoarding these.

Rounding out the rest of the purchases were cards for other people and two more non-Torrenses for me. Like this autograph of former top NYY prospect Nick Johnson. Looking back his numbers in triple-A were tremendous. If he had stayed healthy he could've been one of the best 1Bs ever.

And last but not least is a card I've been eyeing since it came out. I'm a sucker for the 1979 Topps design and if I ever have an opportunity to get a Harper autograph, you can bet that I'm going to seriously consider using this.

Anyway, thanks for stopping by. If you pull any Torrens rookies, you know where to find me ;).

Take care.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Ryosuke Nomura

So if Shigeru Sugishita is my favorite NPB HoFer, my favorite active* NPB player is Ryosuke Nomura here.

I put an asterisk there because he was recently DFA'd by the Chunichi Dragons.
A few days ago it was announced that Nomura and five others were being let go by the Dragons. They're now free agents and are free to go about their merry way.

Nomura was the Dragons' first rounder back in 2014 so I think a team will take a shot on him on a low-cost deal. Personally I'd love it if the Yankees signed him to a minor league deal with a Spring Training invite but, well, I thought my hallucinations ended when I put down the bong for good.

Nomura's career to date has been marred by inconsistency, bad mechanics, and some of the best breaking pitches you'd ever seen when he's at his best. Armed with a fastball, slider, curveball, forkball and cutter, Nomura once projected to be an elite starter for the Dragons, maybe even an ace.

Fast forward to 2017 where Nomura's mechanics were reworked, then reworked again, all the while spending most of his time in the minors (nigun) with some shots at the big league ichigun club every once in a blue moon.

I still think Nomura has the pure stuff to be a good professional pitcher but his time is running out. Chances are he'll get maybe one or two more chances to prove himself before being cut off for good.

Best of luck to him going forward. And if nothing else, I'll still collect him on the low. At least he's dirt cheap lol.

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

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Going And Doing It

Mistakes. I've made a lot of them over the years. Some of them were minor and forgotten in a day or so. Others, well they linger in the back of my mind until I'm alone at night and then they attack me.

Most of them aren't blog related. But every now and then I do feel guilty for certain things I've done.

The biggest is when I messed up Night Owl Cards' plan to complete the 1975 Topps mini set on his own. A lifelong mission he's had since his childhood that I had to go and ruin by bringing it to an anticlimactic finish sandwiched between Jeremy Rathjen and Zach Lee.

I left a comment when he blogged about completing the set, saying that I was going to become a hermit out of shame. Obviously that was sarcastic but I did feel guilty. Still do. Had I known that NO wanted to end matters with his own hands I would have let him. But I didn't know and well, disaster struck.

Night Owl has since reassured me that what I did was good but the psychology major in me sees that as just a way for him to hide his feelings of emptiness and contempt as his goal came to an end (and maybe so I don't feel so bad).

Before we go on let me just say that this is not meant to shame or embarrass NO. I know it's dumb to think that helping someone finish off a set is a bad thing. It's just that if it's a set which has as much significance. As much influence. As much importance as the 1975 mini set does to Night Owl, well I'd want to finish it with my own hands too. I can't help feeling like I really fumbled the ball there.

Well I learned my lesson immediately, no more helping people with completing sets. It just screws things up. Better to just chuck random singles their way in hopes that some of them click. That's the way I've rolled since.

I hadn't really picked up any 1975 minis since then either. But I figured that it was time to change that. A set that left that much of an impression on NO must be significant.

And my very first 1975 Topps mini card of Sweet Lou is here to show me what is/was that significance.

A lot of the charm can be attributed to the design itself, the same one used by the regular sized version. It's very colorful and pops out. It's really no wonder why the design has held up over the years.

Truth be told I'm not big on facsimile signatures and part of me thinks this design would've been better without them, but it doesn't ruin it either. At a time when certified autographs weren't a thing these must've been a great way for young fans to see their favorite players' signatures. Especially those who lived miles away from their favorite teams or an MLB team in general.

Somehow this mini is in better shape than my standard size version

As a collector in the 2010's the idea of a "mini" doesn't exactly knock my socks off but I can see why these were cool back in the day when minis were still a novelty. I assume it'd be like when I first came across mini cards. Something about a smaller variation makes you just pause for a second and say "wow, these are different but cool." Seeing the tinier versions in your hand. They're so small, so frail, so vulnerable. They're at your mercy and must do as you say or lest they suffer your unholy wra...

Anyway, according to NO, this is apparently Piniella's first card as a Yankee (in Yankees gear). One of these days I might as well collect all of his Yankees-era base cards and add him to the unofficial PC player list. Until then all eyes are focused on Piniella there, staring at something off in the distance. He's so awestruck that his mouth is open. My guess is that it's either Mickey Mantle getting head or an Aaron Judge dinger breaking a TV.

And there you have it. The very first 1975 Topps mini card in my collection. Apologies to Night Owl again for ruining what was supposed to be his shining achievement. Hopefully that Buehler really can go into triple digits like Kershaw did.

And as always thank you (the readers) for stopping by. Take care :).

Monday, October 2, 2017

Torrens' 2017 In Review

The 2017 season has come to an end. By the time the Expanded Rosters/September call-ups season came along it was very clear that Luis Torrens would be lost to the clutches of San Diego, but now it's pretty much done. The New York Yankees have officially lost him for nothing (maybe some cash).

(More on this card later)

So how was Luis Torrens in 2017? Well let's look at his offensive output first.

Luis Torrens, Major League Hitter

There's no sugar coating it, Torrens didn't hit all that much in his rookie year. He hit .163/.243/.203, good for a 18 wRC+ and a -0.8 fWAR. Which is either a disappointment or much better than what you'd think he'd do after making the jump from single-A to quad-A.

Overall his approach can be described as "steady." He's pretty patient and isn't afraid to make the pitcher throw some more.

Courtesy of BrooksBaseball

However, he still ends up getting a fair bit of pitches outside the zone. He chases them and gets burned in the process.

Keep in mind that Torrens barely played 60 games this year so the sample size is, well, not as big as you'd want it to be tell anything substantial. But it's a good enough indicator of what he will need to work on next season.

Like how he tends to be a bit swing happy. I don't have access to every video of Torrens up at the plate but a good example of this might be this at-bat when a pitch up above the zone struck out Torrens.

In addition pitchers usually attacked the lower left corner of the zone (and the area just below the zone) where Torrens whiffs significantly as well. I'm sure this is the part where I'm supposed to say what he can do to improve that, but I'm 100% sure the Padres hitting coordinators are already on it. Plus I'm not a coach. I'm a guy with a baseball card collection.

Courtesy of BrooksBaseball

Still, leave the pitch about belt high on either side and Torrens can get a nice hit here and there (yeah, yeah, I know, it's standard for a pro to be able to do that). Like this one off of Robbie Ray. Ready or not, Torrens can punish mistakes.

One bright spot is that Torrens did better against lefties than he did against righties overall. Torrens hit for a .216 average and .250 BABIP against lefties while hitting for a .140 average and .197 BABIP against righties. Although, yes, it's important to remember that he faced twice as many RHPs as he did LHPs.

No real complaints from me though. This is how we got Torrens' best at-bat of the year. A three run triple off of Steven Matz (which would've been a home run in not-Petco).

Source: FanGraphs

Most of the balls Torrens put in play ended up being grounders and most of his fly balls didn't get far (his triple was the furthest hit he had all season). Torrens won't have a lot of power in his career but as he really gets going in his development it wouldn't surprise me to see him turn into a steady backstop with 15 HR power (most of those will be hit during away games at Coors I'm sure). He's really started to bulk up these past couple of years, could be any day now.

I suppose one more interesting factoid was that Fangraphs had Torrens as more of a groundball hitter (59.1% GBP on the year) this year than a flyball hitter (24.7% FBP in 2017). As Torrens taps into his power more I could see him churning out a few more line drives (16.1% LDP in 2017). Reminiscent of the hitting machine he was in Staten Island. Yes, I'm grasping at straws here and being mildly redundant, analysis is not my forte.

Going forward the number one key is getting Torrens consistent at-bats. Torrens ended up only playing eight games in April, 11 games in May, 13 games in June, 11 games in July, six (SIX!) games in August, and six (SIX!) games in September. Getting big league experience is well and good but for me it's hard to think of this as not being another lost year of development. I shudder to think of how many games Torrens would've had to spend on the bench if injuries to Hector Sanchez and Austin Hedges hadn't forced San Diego's hand at various points of the season.

In an ideal and sane world where Torrens is still in the Yankees org, his 2017 would've likely been being the everyday catcher at single-A Charleston to open the season before a quick callup to high-A Tampa and possibly a small cameo in double-A Trenton near the end of the season. But we live in our twisted reality which means that Torrens is likely headed to double-A next year. Torrens' patient approach is fine, but his bat does need some work and he's going to get a lot more at-bats next year to help him do just that.

Alright, so how did Torrens do defensively?

Luis Torrens, Major League Catcher

Torrens definitely had some high moments behind the plate in 2017. Like when he called a great game during a rare start behind the plate on July 2nd against the Dodgers. Torrens and Jhoulys Chacin held the then-juggernaut Dodgers offense at bay for most of the game. That said when all was said and done he ended the season with a catcher's ERA of 4.74 and a -3 DRS, the Padres didn't have much of a pitching rotation going into the season and they (and Torrens) got punished for it.

Torrens' arm showed no significant signs of post major arm surgery issues as he did throw out four would-be base stealers, good for a 22% caught stealing percentage. Unfortunately he also had 14 runners steal a base on him. And yes there were three passed balls. I wish I could see how fast his throws to second were compared to league average but I couldn't find that data.

This was Torrens' first time catching big league caliber pitching, going from catching Daris Vargas to Carter Capps. That's probably the greatest development Torrens got all season that's going to immediately make a difference for his growth. If nothing else, I at least think it's cool that Torrens got to be Chacin and Luis Perdomo's personal catcher for a bit. Chacin is a fellow native of Venezuela and Perdomo was the Padres' Rule 5 Draftee in 2016 after all.

My takeaway is that he didn't embarrass himself and learned some intangible stuff that's going to be part of a narrative in a Padres beat writer's profile of Torrens if/when he capitalizes on his potential as an all time great. Much like his at-bats, Torrens will need consistent time behind the plate too. His defensive capabilities have always made him a promising backstop, I suspect that his glove will come along faster than his bat when given more playing time.

Final Thoughts

First off I'm very glad that Torrens managed to make it throughout the whole season without any major injuries. It's now been two years since Torrens had that surgery that took away his 2015 season, and his arm showed no real signs of wear or tear. Hopefully he can have a normal season next year and finish with something like 130 games played under his belt.

Second, while I am bummed that Torrens won't be returning to the Bronx anytime soon, I am glad that Torrens can be clear of mind in 2018 and focus solely on making improvements and being really MLB ready as soon as possible.

Lastly, I'm just really glad I can say that my favorite player Luis Torrens is a big leaguer. Imagine, a player I've been following since his time in the very low minors made it. Now I have an answer to "so who's your favorite baseball player?" without having to explain he's a minor leaguer. Although I still have to explain that the Padres are indeed a real team :P. Nonetheless, I'm giddy all the same.

Thank you all for sticking with me to the end of this post. It's my first attempt at doing any sort of analysis of baseball matters and I'm very sure I've made a fool of myself one way or another. Please call me out on it if I did. I want to learn and improve. This post was fun and I do plan on doing it again every year of Torrens' career.

I was so dedicated to this point I made a bad video to accompany it. Behold my bad editing skills that butchered a perfectly good Modest Mouse song.

BTW, the card at the very top was my latest Torrens pickup. An orange Bowman Chrome refractor that's numbered 19/25. One more card closer to #100!

This was my first year in review post of Torrens the big leaguer. *Sobs* they grow up so fast.

As always thanks for stopping by and take care.

Resources (In Alphabetical Order):
Baseball Reference
Brooks Baseball

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Month-End TTM Roundup: 9/2-9/30

So this past month I found my first error. I initially believed I didn't get any TTM returns on the second, but it turns out that they wound up in the neighbor's mailbox by mistake. So here are the returns from the second bunched in with the rest of the returns from September :P.

Received On: 09/03/2017

My first return of this period comes from a Oswaldo Cabrera, who has cemented his place inside my "favorite Yankees prospects" list.
I've already talked about Cabrera's outlook so I figure I just supplement what I didn't mention before. Which isn't a whole lot TBH. The power has yet to really emerge but he has hit four dingers this year with Charleston across various times of the year. As his offense really improves and he climbs the ladder he'll probably end up as a under-the-radar kinda guy like Thairo Estrada before him.

Received On: 09/02/2017

In addition to the return above he sent these two extras (again).

Now my Oswaldo Cabrera collection boasts FIVE Charleston cards and a Staten Island card. Yup, definite PC guy now.

Received On: 09/02/2017

Next up is Orioles prospect, Brenan Hanifee.
Brenan Hanifee was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in the fourth round of the 2016 MLB Player Draft. Armed with a low-90's fastball, slider and work in progress changeup, the 19 year old Hanifee projects to be anywhere between a high caliber starter to a triple-A reliever. The Orioles see potential in Hanifee and his pro debut in 2017 has shown flashes of his true potential. In 2017 the RHP has managed to put together a solid season of 2.75 ERA/3.22 FIP ball in 68.2 innings. His walk rate is rather good as well.

Received On: 09/05/2017

Here is Yankees righty prospect, Braden Bristo.
Braden Bristo was drafted by the New York Yankees in the 23rd round of the 2016 MLB Player Draft. Described as a power arm, Bristo has had a very good 2017 season where he was quickly promoted to Charleston following a brief stint in Staten Island. Pinstriped Prospects has a really fun interview with Bristo from when he got drafted.

Received On: 09/05/2017

Next up is Braves outfielder, Cristian Pache.
Cristian Pache was signed by the Atlanta Braves as a non-drafted international free agent back in 2015. Seen as one of top international prospects prior to the 2015 signing period, Pache was noted for being one of the more advanced prospects in that year's crop. Pache made his way stateside very quickly after signing and appears to be in the running for the Barves' centerfielder of the future. Pache has plus plus speed and a strong arm to complement his solid glove in the outfield and the question is whether he can outhit Ronald Acuna to stay at center. As a hitter Pache is very consistent and has managed to get on base during his young career so far. If all goes well the Barves could have an embarrassment of riches regarding their young outfield.

Received On: 09/05/2017

Next up is Marlins RHP, Edward Cabrera.
Edward Cabrera was signed by the Miami Marlins as a non-drafted international free agent back in 2015. Armed with a low 90's fastball, slider and changeup, the 19 year old Cabrera projects to be anywhere between a solid middle of the rotation starter and solid middle reliever. It depends on where his changeup ends up. Due to a right forearm strain, Cabrera was recently put on the 60-day DL, making his date of return sometime in mid 2018. Good luck to him all of the same.

Received On: 09/09/2017

Here is Cleveland slugger, Will Benson.
Benson was drafted by the Cleveland Native Americans in the first round of the 2016 MLB Player Draft. Benson is very raw but has the potential to be a high caliber difference maker in a few years. After successful Team USA stints, Benson impressed several scouts and it's now up to the Clevelands to make good on his promise. As it stands Benson is still tapping into his power (which is bound to come as he fills out more once he's no longer in his teens), learning to utilize his speed, and making overall adjustments. So far he's done fairly well just getting on base (31 walks in 56 games this year in short season-A ball). The key will be making adjustments to hit for consistency next. Cutting down on strikeout will also be a long term problem, but it's not often you can find a raw prospect who can take a walk. I'm excited to see where Benson ends up in the next few years, and the Clevelands should be too.

Received On: 09/09/2017

Next up is Cardinals backstop, Josh Lopez.
Joshua Lopez was signed by the St. Louis Cardinals out of Venezuela as a non-drafted international free agent back in 2012. It's taken the backstop a while but Lopez has finally been able to make it to short season-A ball this year and did fairly well for the Spikes all things told. Hitting for consistency, some power and getting on base just enough for a .773 OPS. I don't have much else on Lopez due to how most of his reports are from 2012. Back then it was said that Lopez was still a work in progress behind the plate, and that much remains mostly the same even to today. That said, it is still is nice to see that he's managed to come along and that full season ball is in his future.

Received On: 09/09/2017

Next up is Rangers righty, Kyle Cody.
Cody was drafted by the Texas Rangers in the sixth round of the 2016 MLB Player Draft. Cody is armed with a low-90's fastball, slider and changeup. The development of the slider and changeup will be key to how he fares going forward. As of now Cody is a very promising starter who just a very solid season across single-A Hickory and high-A Down East, going forward his offspeed stuff will really determine if he can compete in the more advanced leagues. Hopefully he's managed to make great strides this year and the momentum can carry into next year. In a few years from now he could be a serviceable middle of the rotation starter (or a longman reliever, maybe somewhere in between).

Received On: 09/11/2017

Here is Pirates catcher, Deon Stafford Jr.
Deon Stafford Jr. was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the fifth round of the 2017 MLB Player Draft. In order to fill the void left in the Pirates org after the loss of Reese McGuire, the Buccos drafted back to back catchers in the fourth (Jason Delay) and fifth round. Stafford projects to stay at catcher long term but could be moved elsewhere if necessary. The wildcard is going to be his bat, Stafford put up some pretty nice numbers during his last days as an amateur at Saint Joseph's University, the question will be if he can translate those numbers professionally. He had a solid first debut season with the West Virginia Black Bears. If nothing else he should feel a bit closer to home in the Pirates org since he is from Harrisburg.

Received On: 09/11/2017

Next up is Pirates third baseman, Dylan Busby.
Busby was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the third round of the 2017 MLB Player Draft. Busby projects to be a corner infielder (although he can also play LF) with a fair bit of power. Offensively the key will be seeing how he taps into his power going forward (as well as making contact), while defensively it's all about seeing if his glove can stay at third where his value will be the highest. Busby didn't have the greatest pro debut this year, but he may sneak up on Pirates prospect lists in a few years.

Received On: 09/15/2017

Here is Nolan Jones.
Nolan Jones was drafted by the Cleveland Native Americans in the second round of the 2016 MLB Player Draft. The (primarily) third baseman is one of the top prospects in the Cleveland organization and he projects to be a mainstay in the big leagues with proper time and development. Jones' greatest potential lies in his bat since he can hit for power and for contact. Defensively Jones has been moved to third from short which has produced some pretty good results. Jones' bat and glove combined are ultimately his ticket to the big leagues. At the very least he can't be any worse than Jack Hannahan.

Received On: 09/15/2017

Next up is Dallas Martinez.
Martinez was signed by the New York Yankees as a non-drafted international free agent out of Mexico back in 2011. Martinez made it stateside around 2013 (basically after a year) after dominating the DSL. Armed with a low-90's fastball (which has gotten a few ticks since then) and a solid arsenal of breaking pitches, Martinez was part of a promising core of young pitching prospects along with Rafael De Paula and Luis Severino. But life is cruel and in the years since, he's lost the entire 2014 and 2016 seasons to injuries and everything in between/since has been a mixed bag. In his seventh year in the org Martinez finally made it to rookie-level Pulaski where he's been relegated to a reliever. He's Rule 5 eligible this winter and I don't really see a team picking him up. Every March the Yankees let go of a bunch of minor leaguers and I wouldn't be surprised if Martinez is next.

Received On: 09/15/2017

Next up is Mike Krukow.
Mike Krukow was originally drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the eighth round of the 1973 MLB Player Draft. After playing for the Cubs, Philadelphia Phillies and San Francisco Giants for 14 seasons Krukow became an analyst for baseball broadcasts. Today Krukow is beloved among Giants fans as part of the "Kruk and Kuip" duo in the booth along with Duane Kuiper (another former Giant). Krukow has been battling inclusion body myositis and doesn't travel too far for games anymore, but he remains a big figure in the Bay Area baseball scene regardless as the media still goes to him for quotes and insights on the Giants.

Received On: 09/18/2017

Here is Brian Keller.
Brian Keller was drafted by the New York Yankees in the 39th round of the 2016 MLB Player Draft. Prior to the draft Keller already had a reputation as a hard throwing righty, but his stock has risen considerably since turning pro. Keller's fastball usually sits in the lower 90's but in 2017 his velocity had risen to the mid-90's. Coupled with his slider, curveball and changeup, Keller has emerged as an under the radar prospect who may go on to be a very serviceable big league pitcher. And that's impressive considering the Yankees drafted him in the 39th(!) round. Keller's 2017 was nothing short of impressive. After starting the season in single-A Charleston, Keller finished the season in high-A Tampa where he was somehow even better. Such as when he threw a shutout on July 28th, allowing zero runs in nine innings while striking out nine batters. Or his gem on August 9th, where he struck out 11 batters in six innings (the Tampa Yankees as a whole got 25 K's in that game for the record). Make no mistake Keller is worthy of being on the radar, and seeing where he goes in 2018 will be a lot of fun.

Received On: 09/18/2017

Next up is Tyson Blaser.
Tyson Blaser was originally signed by the New York Yankees as a non-drafted free agent back in 2011. Blaser spent four seasons in the Yankees organization as a catcher, making it as high as double-A Trenton before his playing career ended. Blaser then became a coach with the United Township school's baseball team. But then earlier this year Blaser was picked up the Yankees again, this time as a coach. He spent the 2017 season as part of the Scranton/Wilkes Barre Railriders coaching staff.

Received On: 09/18/2017

Next up is Keone Kela.
Keone Kela was drafted by the Texas Rangers in the 12th round of the 2012 MLB Player Draft. Armed with a fastball, slider and changeup, the former under the radar prospect managed to make it to the big leagues in 2015 and has since managed to be a pretty valuable contributor to the Rangers bullpen. After a mixed 2016, Kela established his role further in 2017, being a key member of the bullpen. Kela's been slowed down by injuries this year (mainly shoulder related). Kela has since returned from the DL and the Rangers have given him some innings as a closer to see what he can do in the ninth.

Received On: 09/19/2017

Here is a big return from top Yankees prospect, Estevan Florial.
The story of Florial is amazing and worthy of it's own post, which I may do in the future. For now here's the cliffnotes version.
Florial was signed by the New York Yankees as an international amateur free agent in 2015. Florial quickly made it stateside (so quickly it initially made headlines). Since then Florial has been aggressively pushed even further. After playing in rookie ball in 2016, Florial went right past short season ball and went to single-A Charleston, then by the end of the season ended up in high-A Tampa, then by the end of the minor league postseason was up in double-A Trenton. Florial offers a good combination of tools including power, speed, consistent hitting, a solid glove and solid arm. Florial's surge and growth has been a huge reason why the Yankees farmsystem has remained a top tier one even after the likes of Aaron Judge have graduated. It is also why the Yankees were perfectly comfortable with trading away Blake Rutherford in the trade for David Roberston, Tommy Kahnle and Todd Frazier. I'd assume that Florial starts 2018 in either high-A Tampa (only to be quickly promoted) or double-A Trenton. With rumors circling about him either being in a trade, or being a potential MLB call-up by the end of June. Either way, I have high hopes for Estevan, and I'm glad I got his signature on a proper card before the Bowman's ruin him.

Estevan also wrote this on the back of the envelope. This is the closest I've gotten this year to a letter from a Yankees prospect. Thanks Florial!

Received On: 09/20/2017

Next up is Rays first baseman/pitcher, Brendan McKay.
Brendan McKay was drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays in the first round of the 2017 MLB Player Draft. Much like Shohei Ohtani, McKay is a two way player, in the he's both a hitter and a pitcher. As a pitcher he's a lefty with a low 90's fastball, curveball and changeup. McKay has been used primarily as a starter in his pitching role and the Rays seem keen on developing him as a starter for the time being. Now as a hitter McKay projects to be a first baseman who can hit for average and offer double-digit HR pop. If he could do both it'd be amazing but we'll have to check back on how McKay does in a season or two.

Received On: 09/25/2017

Here is my first Star Wars TTM return, from Amy Allen.
Allen's IMDb page shows that much of her work in show-business has been primarily behind the scenes production work, mainly with special effects. Her best known "role" is as Jedi Master Aayla Secura in Star Wars Episode II and Episode III. That's about as much as I could find about Allen's professional life. She appears to pop up here and there at Star Wars related events (usually conventions).
The character she portrays had some key storylines in the Expanded Universe (aka Legends), and played some roles in Star Wars The Clone Wars.
Anyway this return marks two key milestones. My very first non-sport TTM return, and my very first TTM return from a female. I need to venture outside of baseball a bit more.

Received On: 09/25/2017

Next up is former Yankees pitcher Matt DeSalvo.
Matt DeSalvo was originally signed by the New York Yankees as a non-drafted amateur free agent in 2003. He managed to make it to the big leagues in 2007 and went on to also play for the Atlanta Braves and New York Mets before calling it a career. Nowadays DeSalvo takes up gigs like being a pitching coach for colleges.

Received On: 09/25/2017

I also had Mr. DeSalvo sign this dual for me (although it's hard to see). Hopefully one day I can get Melky Cabrera to complete it.

Received On: 09/29/2017

Here is Cubbies righty Tyson Miller.
Tyson Miller was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the fourth round of the 2016 MLB Player Draft. Armed with a fastball, slider and changeup, Miller projects to be anything from a back of the rotation starter to a long reliever in a big league bullpen.

Received On: 09/29/2017

Next up is former MLB pitcher, Bob Kipper.
Bob Kipper was originally drafted by the California Angels in the first round of the 1982 MLB Player Draft. Kipper made his MLB debut in 1985 and was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates in the trade that sent John Candelaria to Anaheim. Kipper went on to play most of his career with the Pirates as a starter and reliever. After his pitching career ended he turned to being a pitching coach and was even the Red Sox's bullpen coach at one point.

And those were my returns this past month. Big thanks to Ms. Allen as well as Mr. Cabrera, Hanifee, Bristo, Pache, Cabrera, Benson, Lopez, Cody, Stafford, Busby, Jones, Martinez, Krukow, Keller, Blaser, Kela, Florial, McKay, DeSalvo, Miller and Kipper for the awesome autographs.

And as always thank you (the readers) for stopping by :).

Take care.

2017 TTM Count: 134