Friday, April 14, 2017

Oh Great, Another One

Even though I consider myself to be a Luis Torrens supercollector, trust me when I say that I 100% understand the decision many make to NOT be a supercollector for just one player specifically, and their choice to be a team collector who is content with whatever they get.

The feeling of having to go after, well, EVERYTHING YOU DON'T HAVE is a big burden.

Case in point is this 2014 Leaf Metal Draft Retro Proof card of Luis Torrens.

I had no idea these things existed, and I was quite content with not having to realize that I had another parallel from this God-forsaken set to track down. But saved eBay searches came to either my rescue or my continued demise.

Apparently these Retro Proofs were inserted into some set called "Leaf Retro Rookie" which is one of those high end repacks that offer you chances at autographs of Mike Trout and Bryce Harper but you usually just end up with nothing. I assume these hand-numbered retro-proof base cards were thrown in to pad out the checklist.

As you can see these are numbered to 2 and this is the first one of these. And they came inserted in a magnet holder.

The back is the exact same as the other Leaf Metal Draft Torrens cards and is very uninteresting.

The only notable thing to really say about this card is that the magnetic holder this card came in is obviously made for thicker cards. Obviously I decided to open this up and see if a Leaf Pure Glass autograph would fit.

It did, which means this magnetic holder is a 130-PT holder. Sidenote, I didn't take pics of it but if you take off the metallic Leaf logo sticker, the residue from the tape is designed to be left behind and read "Void."

Here is the retro proof freed from it's plastic prison. Looks (and scans) so much better this way wouldn't you say?

There hasn't been a whole lot more to report about Torrens the big leaguer, other than how he made his first career start on April 10th, 2017. He recorded his first big league walk in that game too, but his first hit continues to elude him. Hopefully he can get that out of the way in the upcoming series in Atlanta. On a side note, I loved how the Padres went as far as to tweet Torrens' first MLB start. You won't see the Yankees doing that, that's for sure.

Anyway, make no mistake that not choosing to be a player collector is a very viable and respectable way to collect cards. If you're going to attempt to be a player collector, be warned that cards can come out seemingly out of nowhere, especially regarding products you wouldn't bat an eye about.

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

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Testing The Waters

My daily routine is quite a mess. For the most part it revolves around staring at either my phone screen or computer screen with the brief instances where I sleep, wake up, go to school or work and go home sprinkled in.

Because my schedule is so hectic, I struggle with daily challenges like the 30 Day Song challenge that Tony of Off Hiatus Baseball Cards has been doing on Twitter. It's not like I couldn't do them if I saw Tony doing them (I can just reply to his Tweets). I can't do them if I'm the one starting them. I lose track of these things by day 4.

So a while back Tony, inspired by the song challenge, created a 30 Day Baseball Card challenge. Where you post about certain cards that meet the criteria/topic of the day. As previously established, I'm not diligent enough to do these daily. I'm doing all 30 at once with my own personal thoughts at the end. Strap yourselves in, this is gonna be a long one.

Also, I could've very easily done this in a half-joking manner and included non-baseball cards, but since this is called the Baseball Card Challenge, I've answered all questions with JUST baseball cards.

Day 1: A card from the current year with a photo that you like

From the 2017 BBM Sekibetsu Kyujin set (a set full of sunset cards for players who retired in 2016) is this sunset card of Hiroki Kuroda. In what is probably one of my favorite shots ever. This card was sent to me by Ryan from This Card Is Cool. Thanks Ryan!

Day 2: A card with more than one player on it

Carp-era Kenta Maeda and Giants stud Hayato Sakamoto. If you're wondering when Sakamoto is coming to the US, it's likely never. The Giants almost never let go of their players and they'll pony up to keep Sakamoto.

Day 3: A card from the first set you tried to complete

Tried and finished have different meanings but because I don't want to talk about the first set I ever tried to make (and failed at) I'd rather focus on the first set I did complete. In which case it becomes 2012 Sega Card Gen.

Day 4: A rookie card of one of your favorite players

Now what makes a card a "true" rookie card is very murky nowadays with prospect cards being printed out more and more, but I went with a rookie card in terms of the player's first card as an active major leaguer. Luis Torrens doesn't have an official RC yet so I went with Bryce Harper for now. His rookie cards take me back to 2012, a year I'll remember fondly for the rest of my life for various reasons.

Day 5: A certified autograph of one of your favorite players

Because I focus more on incorporating the latest going-ons in Torrensworld in my posts where I announce Torrens acquisitions, I forget to actually talk about the cards themselves. Like this Holiday Bonus exclusive of Torrens from 2014 Leaf Metal Draft. This card is quite shiny and I quite like it. It's also basically like the base variation except with a serial number and sticker autograph. Oh yeah, here's a reminder that I still need the base to finish the normal rainbow (and one more plate to finish the master one).

Day 6: A card you spent more than $10 to get

I've yet to blog about Ryosuke Nomura here, but he's one of my sleeper picks in the Dragons org. This autograph cost me $35 (aprox) in Japanese yen.

Day 7: A card you bought in person and the story behind it

The day was August 19, 2014, the 2014 New York-Penn League All Star Game was being held in Coney Island, Brooklyn. Blog hero Luis Torrens was playing in it and during the game I stopped by the gift shop where I noticed they had the Top Prospects set for sale. They inserted two prospects from every team into these sets and Torrens was one of them. I bought two right on the spot, got one of the Torrens from this set signed, and gave the other complete set to Torrens as a thank you present. I since acquired a few more so I could later get unsigned copies for myself. Like the one above.

Sidenote, this challenge is far too lengthy to fit in 140 characters.

Day 8: A card that reminds you of a family member

Look, as far as my family and I are concerned, Mr. Sugishita is Mr. Chunichi. My grandmother saw the parade after Mr. Sugishita and the Dragons won the Japan Series for the first time ever, and the rest of my family has known him as everything that's good about the Dragons (while the front office represents everything that's bad about it). So with that, this is why I'm reminded of my family whenever I see Mr. Sugishita.

Day 9: One of your favorite cards from the 1950's

Photo Taken By Sean
I don't own this card, in fact I just snatched the photograph you see above from Sean's blog Getting Back into Baseball Cards... In Japan where he talked about Hall of Famer Wally Yonamine. Which is a great read for those of you interested in a collector who came back to a collecting hiatus, in Japan. Wally Yonamine is a favorite of mine since he's a Japanese American like I am. And he played for the Chunichi Dragons. And I hope I can own a card of his one day. Preferably from time as a Dragons player. It's tough to tell which set this is from or even if it's from the 50's (it might be from the 40's) but I still think it's cool.

Day 10: One of your favorite cards from the 1960's

The very first vintage baseball card I ever owned was this 1966 Topps Roger Maris. I paid top doller ($30) for this at a card shop back in 2012. At the time I thought it was the coolest thing ever. I've since seen the likes of Nick The Dime Box King and Night Owl Cards acquire other vintage Marises for cheaper, making me feel like a chump. But I still like this card that depicted Roger Maris as an active Yankee for the last time.

Day 11: One of your favorite cards from the 1970's

My admiration for 1979 Topps is very well known. I think I'll just go with my signed Lou Piniella card from that set. The Sweet Lou signature you see above was the very first in person autograph I ever got at a card show. It was my very first time paying money for an autograph ticket and meeting an actual legend. I'm glad because Piniella was very kind. We talked a bit about Ichiro Suzuki and shared some laughs.

Day 12: One of your favorite cards from the 1980's

For this one I went with a 1984 Calbee card of Kazuhiko Ushijima. Ushijima was one of the most dominant relievers in the Dragons' franchise history. Although he tried being a starter a few times (it didn't work out), he was lights out as a reliever/closer, locking down the most saves in the league in 1984 (29 saves), 1987 (24 saves) and 1988 (25 saves). Back then the reliever category didn't have too many awards but apparently he did win a Most Valuable Reliever Award and a Fireman Award (MLB should have a Fireman Award too). I don't own the Calbee card, but I do sure want it.

Day 13: One of your favorite cards from the 1990's

Got to go with a baby faced card of the Big Hirok here. Hard to believe that that slender frame would later go on to be the best Japanese-born MLB pitcher of all time. It's also hard to believe he ever showed that much emotion on cardboard.

Day 14: One of your favorite cards from the 2000's

This one was very difficult. Not because there were so many to choose from, but because I don't have too many cards from the 2000's. After all, I'm always complaining about how I never see them around. Anyway, I went with the card up there because I remember my uncle buying a few NPB cards way back when. Long before I ever became a collector.

Day 15: One of your favorite cards from the 2010's

This is tough for the exact opposite reason. A good 90% of my collection comes from the 2010's. I could make a top 100 2010-2011 era cards list and still have to make painful cuts, let alone add in the rest of the decade we've gotten through (and have yet to go through) too. I decided to just pick at random and this popped up. An in person Mariano Rivera autograph on a foil Sega Card Gen. The subject of one of my earliest blogposts on here too. Such sweet memories.

Day 16: A card of a player whom you appreciate but don't like

If I ever went as far as to "dislike" a player, whatever made me dislike them in the first place was enough for me to lose any sort of appreciation or admiration (if I had any) for them. These would be the Josh Luekes, Jose Reyes' and Delmon Youngs of the world. You can look up their actions (both proven and alleged) on your own time, and the unfortunate fact is that they're not alone. So I have zero players in this category and therefore zero cards to show.

Day 17: A card from the first set you put together hand collated

We're back it again with the 2012 Sega Card Gen set! I love this set. I was watching my old video where I recorded myself playing the game and I really wanted to play it again.

Day 18: A card of a player who became manager of your favorite team

Crud, I already used up Piniella. I'm a closet Dodgers fan so I'll just throw Donnie Baseball up here.

Day 19: A favorite card from a country other than the United States

I've done the challenges thus far from the perspective of a collector who collects Japanese and American cards so I needed to find something made outside of both. So off to Canada! With the OPC 1979 Topps card of Gary Matthews. Sarge was another in person autograph signing and it was pretty great. He had a great sense of humor.

Day 20: Your favorite parallel card based on the parallel, not the player

The superfractor. I've owned three of these (technically four) in my possession and I'm always impressed every time I see these. All I can say to you superfractor-less people is, you're missing out.

Day 21: A card of a rookie you thought you were "investing" in

If by "investing" Tony actually means investing time and effort, then yes, I have indeed invested a lot into my Torrenterion Collection.

Day 22: A card of a common player that always seemed to elude you

What do we mean by common? Do we mean common as in run-of-the-mill player, or common as in he's in every single product ever? In the latter sense I'd go with Bryce Harper. He's in everything and yet I almost never get his cards.

Day 23: A favorite oddball card from the 1950s

The fact that I own any cards from the 50's at all is the odd part.

Day 24: A favorite oddball card from the 1960s

The fact that I own any cards from the 60's at all is the odd part.

Day 25: A favorite oddball card from the 1970s

1979 Topps comes to the rescue again, this time a 1979 Topps card issued by Burger King. I got the Bake McBride autograph at a local card show and now I can proudly say I have one signed 1979 Topps flagship, Topps Burger King and Topps O-Pee-Chee card in my collection.

Day 26: A favorite oddball card from the 1980s

This 1980 Nostalgic Enterprise oddball came to me via Nick The Dime Box King. I recently reposted the post where I reflected on this card and Davis' career after it went down due to how most of my scanned photographs were deleted when I moved from a certain picture hosting site to my current one. Anyway, I really enjoy this oddball, and I still remember how fun it was to revisit his career. I hope to one day track down the Jack Chesbro card from this set.

Day 27: A favorite oddball card from the 1990s or later

I'll go with this Baseball Heroes card from 2009. WBC mania was big at the time and there were a lot of great cards of great players produced. I still enjoy looked at these oddballs and being reminded of just how much of a big deal it was to be in Japan and watching the whole country go nuts. After all, it was a contest to see which country had the best team in the tournament, and Japan had a chance to win it all by beating Korea (which they did), that made it all the more sweeter. I picked Cano here because, why not?

Day 28: A favorite relic/manufactured relic card

Once upon a time this blog was called Cervin' Up Cards, named after Francisco Cervelli (NOT Bob Cerv). One of my goals after I acquired this particular card was to get it signed, and have "Cervin' Up Cards" inscribed on it. That goal will have to wait for another time (if ever). Even though it's just a blank gray space, I still enjoy this card for what it is. An absurdly large piece of cloth embedded into a thick card. A patch would've obviously made this look fantastic but you take what you can get.

Day 29: A favorite card from before 1950, whether you own it or not

Luckily for me, I do own this T206 Jack Chesbro. It seems so long ago when I last brought it up, but I do still consider myself a fan of the New York Highlanders. I'm still trying to assemble the T206 Highlanders team set.

Day 30: Your favorite card in your collection

Oof, Tony picked the best for last. This is just as hard as the "favorite card from the 2010's" question only with 10 more potential cards to pick from.
I just went with the most obvious answer I could think of. You don't need an elaboration on why I picked that.

Day 31: Your favorite card you acquired in a trade

This wasn't part of the 30 Day challenge that Tony made so I added it. This is very tough because over the years I've gotten some of the best cards I could've hoped for from my collecting chums (both on and off our section of the blogosphere). Trying to pick one out of the thousands of cards I've received over the years is impossible, but I tried.

I'll go with this custom of Luis Torrens. As of this post, this is still the only card of Torrens as a Padre. P-Town Tom of Eamus Catuli! had commissioned Gavin of Baseball Card Breakdown to make that card specifically for me. Like when people in ye olden times had works of art commissioned by world class artists for close relatives and friends. To me it truly represents all that is wonderful and so great about the little corner of the blogosphere our blogs call home.

Other strong contenders were other custom creations sent my way like the glow-in-the-dark Hiroki Kuroda sketch card Gavin drew, the Luis Torrens drawing on a bubble mailer sent my way by The Lost Collector (he drew it himself) and another pencil draw of former PC-guy Eric Jagielo by The Lost Collector.

And those were my responses to the 30-Day Baseball Card Challenge. Thanks for the material Tony.

And as always thank, the readers, for stopping by.

Take care :).

Friday, April 7, 2017

A New Card And A Step Back

With Luis Torrens getting promoted to the big leagues, I bought a card of his on eBay to celebrate.

I picked up this Pure Glass red auto (numbered 2/5) from 2014 Leaf Trinity a little before word got out that he made the Padres roster out of Spring Training. It didn't cost me too much and it's a welcome addition to my collection.

The past week has been a giant mix of chaos, and the Torrens promotion didn't make the head spinning any easier.

But at the same time I'm very glad that it happened.

With Torrens' MLB promotion and his debut out of the way, now it's time to take a step back and really look at the situation.

So you've got Torrens, a very talented but still raw and young catcher who hadn't even reached high-A ball suddenly make the leap to the big leagues. What will this do to his overall development?

Now getting experience is always good, and Torrens is getting his first taste of big league action. But going from hitting against single-A pitchers in Charleston to bonafide major leaguers is quite a gap. Dodger fans may disagree but Chris Hatcher (who I'm using as an example because he's the first pitcher Torrens faced in the big leagues) is better than single-A pitchers. Around high-A is when some of the pitcher deemed less promising start getting cut, and the general rule is that really good lefties tend to move up the minors quickly. As much as I think Torrens can do amazing things, I wonder how he's going to make adjustments and learn offensively with this time on a big league roster.

There's also the fact that he's not going to be playing everyday. If he were still in the Yankees org I'd assume that he'd be the everyday catcher for the high-A Tampa Yankees, getting consistent at-bats, and improving his defense behind the plate. Torrens will, for the most part, be on the bench while Austin Hedges and Hector Sanchez get most of the catching reps, that's not optimal. His arm is a cannon and his blocking ability draws great praise but there's no risk in having him polish it up even further.

Assume, for all intensive purposes, Torrens stays with the Padres beyond this year because he either stayed on their 25-man all season long or because the Padres send back something to the Yankees to keep Torrens. What then?

Well I'd assume Torrens will see that his playing time in 2018 will be spent in double-A, depending on how he fares this year I guess. He should have at least three minor league options (note, the whole concept of options still confuses me, so I'm just assuming that based on how little his overall service time has been to this point). Meaning he should be still good for three more stints in the minors. Will that be enough time for him to develop? Heck if I know. I was originally planning a trip to Trenton in 2019 to see Torrens and Blake Rutherford in the double-a All Star Game, I wasn't ready for this.

So to wrap it up.

Short Term: Luis Torrens is a big leaguer and it's awesome
Long Term: How this affects Torrens' development remains to be seen

I'd be lying if I said I'm not worried, but if nothing else, I'm just glad that Torrens didn't have to go through the weird prospect limbo treatment that he would've gotten in New York (just look at what's happening to their prospects) before making his debut. But I'm hoping that 2017 is just the start of something bigger for down the line in the Torrens story arc.

Here's a better pic of the Torrens pure glass autograph, in a magnetic holder (it looks so good in there). Byotiful.

As always thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

What I've Been Listening To... (Pt. 2)

So part one of the "What I've Been Listening To" post was really fun for me. By the looks of the feedback I got I noticed that a lot of my audience,
A). listens to indie rock
B). usually just listens to songs in English

TBH I was expecting this. Just look at the demographic of baseball card collectors, it shouldn't be too hard to make assumptions and generalizations about what kind of musical tastes they might have.

Still, it was fun to see what people thought. Special thanks to Tony of Off Hiatus Baseball Cards for going so far as to provide a post (I was just expecting a comment lol) where he provided his two cents on the songs I highlighted.

Anyway, here is another smattering of 10 songs I just happen to be listening to...

Starting us off is a song I got for free back when iTunes were still giving away select songs for free. The Wombats present us with a pretty upbeat and catchy song that contrasts to how it's about a failing relationship and various tempting things around the singer that are making it fail even more (groupies wanting sex I think?). Oh those Brits and their use of irony.

Nigerian Rock music was pretty big back in the 70's (big enough to have a retrospective documentary at least) and a lot of it is very good. There are still lots of hidden gems in the genre to be found. So far I've enjoyed this the most. The post-Civil War era of Nigeria must've offered the country and it's artists a lot of topics worth discussing and it comes out in it's music as well. Although granted my knowledge of Nigerian culture at the time (or in any time period really) is lacking and I can't claim to know exactly what is being addressed. Still, I like it.

Now we're heading into the kind of stuff I was into when I was a tween, emo rock. More specially mid-to-late 2000's emo rock. This little number by Balance and Composure reminds me of other bands I was into way back when like Taking Back Sunday, Brand New and Cute Is What We Aim For. Less over the top than Fall Out Boy and not as terrible as Simple Plan (do they even count?). The unfortunate part is that these bands were either too quiet for my hormonal self or too samey-soundey but could hit bulls eyes with me on one out of every 400 songs. This is one of them.

Tony has been doing the 30 Day Song Challenge on Twitter for the past few weeks and one of the challenges was to find a song that you think everybody should listen to. This was my choice for that challenge. This little number by Napalm Death is one of the most notable shortest songs ever made. The song is barely three seconds long. There is no real reason why everybody in the entire world can't listen to this at least once during their life. Just listen, then move on before you realize it.

Tracks that use unreleased 2Pac a cappella's can be very hit or miss but I thought that this song by Nipsey Hussle did a pretty good job. Even though iTunes credits June Summers (the R&B singer, not the pornstar) as the main performer. Jay Rock's verse is your typical gangsta rap verse, Nipsey Hussle's verse is a take on politics and drugs in Crenshaw, CA, with 2Pac's verse being one that was obviously for his One Nation project that never got released (or finished) due to his untimely death. You see, 2Pac was working on a compilation with Brooklyn based rap supergroup Boot Camp Clik (a collection of various NYC-based rappers) called One Nation as a way to squash the East Coast/West Coast feud in the mid 90's. Notice the shout outs for old school NYC hip hop acts like Cocoa Brovaz (also known as Smith-N-Wessun), Greg Nice (of Nice And Smooth fame), Buckshot the BDI Thug (also of Black Moon fame), Capital LS (of Rumplestilskinz fame) and Asu.
Sidenote, I'd highly recommend a lot of Buckshot's discography. Especially his collaboration albums with KRS-One and 9th Wonder.

Those of you from the 80's probably remember this song by the Australian band Midnight Oil. I've heard Midnight Oil being discussed as the Australian Rage Against The Machine, in that they're primarily about politics. Australian politics. The treatment of the native aborigines and various other things in Australia's history gave Midnight Oil plenty of material.

Whether to Tony's benefit or not, this post has been thoroughly lacking in non-English songs. Let's fix that with these last few picks.
Like this number by Stromae, a Belgian artist who is probably better known for the song Alors on dense. I have pretty much no idea what the lyrics are actually saying here but the best I can gather is that Stromae portrays both the male and female points of view in a relationship. The verses are primarily from the female's perspective and the chorus is from the male's perspective. This music video is something that could be used in a gender studies class.

Hell yeah! Norwegian metal!
Granted it's not the hardest the genre could go, but I personally like this the most. Easy to head-bang to. Very easy to get pumped up by this. All of the lyrics are in Norwegian and no I don't know what is being sung but I believe it's primarily about a guy who's fed up with the world and wants either hell to roll over and reset the world, or just come and take him. I mean the title roughly translates to Come Hell.

About time that Bollywood soundtracks made an appearance on here!
When Tony wanted music suggestions for a blogpost of his, I threw him a bunch of random ones my iPod played at random and this was one of them. He ultimately opted for my song choices from Medieval Europe so I'll throw this one up again. This particular gem by Sing Raja comes from the 2012 movie, Joker. A movie that involves aliens (the poster pretty much explains what you're in for).

Finishing off this post by bringing it back to rock and roll and Japan!
This is the Japanese band Arukara. Their songs are very weird and I can't keep up with the plot of their songs at all, but they're just so full of energy and from what I can keep up with, it's clear a lot of time and thought went into them. As for what this particular song is about, beats the heck out of me. The title roughly translates to "Science The Catchy(ness)" which doesn't tell me much. But who cares gosh darnit, it just sounds so good.

And those were some of the latest songs I've been listening to. Now to see what Tony has to say about these songs.

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

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

History Has Been Made

Yesterday was Opening Day for the San Diego Padres. They got clobbered by the Los Angeles Dodgers, but the most important part of the game was the fact that history was made.

Yup. Luis Torrens has finally made his MLB debut!

I'll be honest, this took me by surprise. I thought Torrens would be hidden on the bench and not make his MLB debut until like the fourth or fifth game of the season. Nope, Torrens made his debut on day one.

Torrens came in as a defensive replacement in the seventh inning and caught two innings. Catching Miguel Diaz, Craig Stammen and Jose Torres.

Torrens also went up against Chris Hatcher in his first ever MLB at-bat. Torrens grounded out so his first MLB hit will have to wait for another day.

But who cares, Torrens has finally stepped on the diamond at the highest level! Wooooooooo!

Torrens apparently became the 360th Venezuelan to make his MLB debut and became the second youngest Venezuelan ever to make his MLB debut (the youngest is Elvis Andrus).

I hope this means we can expect more Torrens cards as time goes on. Also some Torrens merch.

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

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Month-End TTM Roundup: 3/6-4/2

Received On: 03/08/2017

My first returns for this post came from Brewers righty Josh Uhen.
Josh Uhen was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in the fifth round of the 2013 MLB Player Draft. The Wisconsin native (and product of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee) has a pretty golden chance to be the hometown hero should he ever make it to the big leagues. Reportedly, Uhen had been on the Brewers' radar long before he was drafted but an injury that required him getting Tommy John in college was a bit of a setback. Nonetheless the Brewers took a chance on the righty whose fastball has been clocked at 100 mph, although it's been mainly sitting in the mid 90's. At this point Uhen is more of a reliever akin to the likes of John Axford, but his fastball, slider and change up combination will at least allow for him to be in the conversation as a middle reliever (at least) at the big league level. Hopefully he makes it, I always think it's great when local guys get to play for teams they grew up rooting for in their hometown.

Received On: 03/09/2017

More Brewers! This time from Jorge Lopez.
Jorge Lopez was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in the second round of the 2011 MLB Player Draft. Lopez was a top 10 prospect in the Brewers farm system for many years and really started showing up on more radars as an arm to keep an eye on in 2015 when he dominated double-A and made his MLB debut the same year. 2016 started off on a bad note for Lopez but down the line he improved greatly. Armed with a fastball, curveball and change up, Lopez still projects to be a very serviceable middle of the rotation starter for the rebuilding Brewers and the (hopefully/doubtfully) contending Brewers of the future. If not his fastball-curveball combo can be lethal in a bullpen role. Either way, I hope great things are in Lopez's future.
Sidenote, you know the Brewers farm system is incredibly good when they just had a top prospect like Jorge Lopez (as well as others like Orlando Arcia) graduate and yet they're still in the top 3. Woof!

Received On: 03/10/2017

Going from one ex-AL East team to it's primary rival (once upon a time), here's Joe Biagini of the Toronto Blue Jays. Joe Biagini was originally drafted by the San Francisco Giants in the 26th round of the 2011 MLB Player Draft. After spending four seasons in the Giants org as a serviceable starter on his way up (albeit slowly), he became eligible for the Rule 5 Draft in 2015 and was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays. Most people didn't think Biagini (who'd never been above double-A) would last a whole year in Toronto but he proved to be a worthwhile asset in the Jays bullpen (first as a long man and then eventually as a set up man) and managed to stay on the 25-man roster the whole season. Now that the Jays don't have to worry about sending Biagini back to San Francisco, the question now is whether they see him as a reliever or starter long term. In the minors he was an okay-ish starter, in the majors? Who knows. For whatever it's worth the Jays have been stretching Biagini out like a starter and rumors of him being assigned to the triple-A Buffalo Bisons rotation to start the season so he can be used in a sixth starter role are swirling. Of course he could also be a long man or reliever but the Blue Jays have a fair number of options for the bullpen so it's not so clear cut. Expect the Jays to make a decision in the upcoming weeks.

Received On: 03/11/2017

Next up is a return from Orioles prospect Josh Hart.
Josh Hart was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in the first round of the 2013 MLB Player Draft. Seem as a top OF pick out of high school, the supplemental first rounder has made his strides in the minors slowly but very surely. Hart's spent some time on the DL during his career but he does still have the potential to be a very good defensive centerfield who may hit at the top of the lineup. His key attribute is his plus plus speed, but making solid contact appears to still be a work in progress for the centerfielder. At age 22, there's still time for him to put things together and be Adam Jones' successor in centerfield.

Received On: 03/15/2017

Here's my first Spring Training success from Yankees camp, from none other than Chance Adams.
Chance Adams was drafted by the New York Yankees in the fifth round of the 2015 MLB Player Draft. Chance Adams is seem as one of the Yankees' underrated sleeper prospects (of which they have a grab bag of prospects worthy of that title) and could be a bargain for a fifth rounder. Adams was originally drafted and put in a relief role (one that many thought would catapult him to the big leagues) but he was so effective that the Yankees tried him out as a starter and he's put up good results so far. So much so that he was invited to Spring Training this year and lasted quite a long while. Armed with a fastball that can reach 98-mph, a slider, a changeup and curveball, Adams has impressed both Joe Girardi and Brian Cashman. Keep an eye on this guy, he may be a very good middle rotation of the starter as early as next season.

Received On: 3/20/2017

I already talked about this return from Shigeru Sugishita, but I thought I'd just show it again. It's soooo freaking cool!

Received On: 03/23/2017

Next up is a return from D-Backs righty Silvino Bracho.
Silvino Bracho was signed as a non-drafted free agent out of Venezuela back in 2011. Bracho slowly, but surely, moved up the D-Backs farmsystem as reliever who earned praise for his great control. Silvino made it to the big leagues in 2015 but has spent most of his time since in triple-A. Silvino came into Spring Training looking for a bullpen job with the D-Backs but instead was optioned to triple-A to begin the season. Armed with a fastball that sits in the mid-90's and a slider, Silvino has enough of a reputation as a really good reliever to be back in the big leagues soon.

Received On: 03/25/2017

Here is Marlins backstop Ramon Cabrera.
Ramon Cabrera was originally signed out of Venezuela by the Pittsburgh Pirates as a non drafted free agent back in 2008. He spent a few years with the Buccos but was traded to the Detroit Tigers in late 2012 in exchange for Andy Oliver. Two seasons after that Cabrera was selected off of waivers by the Pirates but was released a few months afterwards. Shortly after that Cabrera signed with the Cincinnati Reds as a free agent and finally made his MLB debut in 2015. He became a free agent this past offseason and signed a minor league deal with the Miami Marlins. But according to Clark Spencer he probably won't make the 25-man roster out of Spring Training. Cabrera isn't much defensively but offensively he always puts up decent numbers in triple-A. Hopefully he'll be given another chance to be in the big leagues soon. Although he may also carve out a career as a journeyman catcher who plays at various triple-A affiliates.

Received On: 03/27/2017

Here's another Spring Training return from journeyman Ivan DeJesus Jr.
Ivan DeJesus Jr. is the son of former big leaguer, Ivan DeJesus. Ivan DeJesus Jr. was originally drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 2nd round of the 2005 MLB Player Draft. DeJesus spent several seasons with the Doyers before making it to the big leagues in 2011. The following year he was sent to the Boston Red Sox in the Nick Punto trade (that also netted the Dodgers Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Josh Beckett). Then after playing for Boston, he was shipped out again to the Pirates in the Brock Holt/Joel Hanrahan trade (the same trade that netted the Pirates Mark Melancon). The following year he became a free agent and spent the 2013 and 2014 seasons in the minors for the Baltimore Orioles and Boston Red Sox. Ivan DeJesus Jr. was picked up as a free agent again before the 2015 season by the Cincinnati Reds. There DeJesus finally made good on his reputation as a utility guy with a good glove. Although the Reds tried out the utility infielder in the outfield way too much. DeJesus actually hit his first big league home run in 2015 too. DeJesus played one more season with the Reds before he was outrighted to triple-A and elected free agency. DeJesus signed with the Milwaukee Brewers on a minor league deal with an invite to Spring Training. With the departure of Scooter Gennett, DeJesus may make the Brewers roster out of Spring Training as a utility infielder on the bench. Best of luck to the journeyman infielder who somehow managed to make me write more about him that I thought I would. Sidenote, that 2011 Topps card is one of the first cards I ever had when I came into this hobby. Yes, I'm psyched that it's finally signed.

And those were my returns this past month.

Big thanks to Mr. Uhen, Lopez, Biagini, Hart, Adams, Sugishita, Bracho, Cabrera and DeJesus for the awesome autographs.

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

Take care.

2017 TTM Count: 30