Friday, June 8, 2018

The Gift That Continues To Give

At the beginning of the week I blogged about how the 2015 Panini Stars and Stripes USA set that P-Town Tom (of Waiting 'til Next Year) sent me continued to be useful to me a good three years after it was released.

As such I thought it'd be fun to take a look at the players in the set and see where everyone is/ended up.

Now for this one we have five main categories. Players drafted before 2015, players drafted in 2015, players drafted in 2016, players drafted in 2017, players drafted in 2018 and players that haven't been drafted by professional teams yet.

In some cases there were players who were drafted but didn't sign with the team. I've made sure to specify those players. Also since the 2018 draft just ended a few days ago, this post is currently in "as of this moment in time" mode when it comes to the signing status of the most recent draftees. I'll update their statuses as confirmation that they signed or didn't sign come through later.

So let's begin!

Pre-2015 Draftees:

So a staple of these Stars and Stripes sets are that they do include established (or semi-established) names inside to make the checklist more enticing. After all, 2015 was the year of Kris Bryant and what better way to sell your product than by saying that consumers had a shot at pulling his autograph? But he wasn't alone though, there were others.

Jameson Taillon (PIT) and A.J. Cole (WSH) have been professionals the longest seeing as how their careers started in 2010 (the year they were both drafted). Taillon's career has been marred by injuries but he's finally made it to the big leagues after multiple setbacks. Cole's career hasn't gone the way people have hoped and now he's trying to rebuild his stock by being an intriguing relief option for the Yankees.

Blake Swihart (BOS), Francisco Lindor (CLE) and Henry Owens (BOS) were the only members of the 2011 draft class in the set. Of these only Lindor has actually proven himself to be worth anything. Which works for me as a Yankees fan.

We suddenly jump to 13 draftees from the 2012 draft class. Former top Yankees prospects Peter O'Brien and Rob Refsnyder are here.

Along with notable big leaguers like Albert Almora (CHC), Tyler Naquin (CLE), David Dahl (COL), Corey Seager (LAD), Addison Russell (OAK) and Matt Olson (OAK). There's also Deven Marrero (BOS), Lucas Sims (ATL) and Jesse Winkler (CIN) in terms of unspectacular big leaguers who were big deals in the minors.

The only two members of the 2012 class (in this set) to not make it to the big leagues yet are Courtney Hawkins (CWS) and Nick Travieso (CIN). Hawkins was released barely a month into the season and Travieso is still out recovering from a shoulder surgery he had last year.

The number of 2013 draftees shrinks to four, but it's a good four. Kris Bryant (CHC), J.P. Crawford (PHI), Austin Meadows (PIT) and D.J. Peterson (SEA) would've made for a prospector's wet dream. Although here in 2018 Peterson hasn't quite lived up to expectations, which is to be expected from a Mariners prospect. BTW, here is a reminder that the Astros took Mark Appel first overall over Kris Bryant AND Aaron Judge that year.

We then jump back to 13 players for the 2014 draft class. The ones most of you probably recognize are Kyle Schwarber (CHC), Carlos Rodon (CWS), Michael Conforto (NYM) and Trea Turner (SD). Maybe even big leaguers like Bradley Zimmer (CLE), Matt Chapman (OAK), Erick Fedde (WSH), Luke Weaver (STL) and Jack Flaherty (STL).

Top org prospects like Justus Sheffield (CLE), Tyler Beede (SF), Cole Tucker (PIT) and Luis Ortiz (TEX) are also here. Sheffield is now a Yankees prospect after being in the Andrew Miller trade. Ortiz is now in the Brewers organization after being involved in the Jonathan Lucroy trade. Tyler Beede briefly made his MLB debut before being sent back down. Tucker is still a Pirate.

2015 Draftees:

So now with the pre-2015 guys out of the way, let's get to the 2015 draft class. There were quite a fair number of first rounders taken in the 2015 draft in this set. Which should make sense since Panini would naturally want to capitalize on selling some of the hottest amateur names leading to the draft.

A grand total of 34 total 2015 draftees were in the set.

Of which there were 14 first rounders.
Dansby Swanson was the first overall pick by (ARI) who was later traded to the Braves in a weird trade, Kolby Allard (ATL), Carson Fulmer (CWS), Christin Stewart (DET), Alex Bregman (HOU), Kyle Funkhouser (LAD), Trenton Clark (MIL), Daz Cameron (HOU) and D.J. Stewart (BAL). Are the first nine first rounders.
Trenton Clark now goes by Trenton Graham after legally changing his name. Swanson, Fulmer and Bregman have managed to make it to the big leagues with varying levels of success. Cameron is now in the Tigers org after being traded in the Justin Verlander trade.

Seriously though, FOURTEEN first rounders!
James Kaprielian was the Yankees' first rounder but was traded to the A's in the Sonny Gray trade. Dillon Tate was originally drafted by the Rangers and sucked. He was later traded to the Yankees in the Carlos Beltran trade and he's pitching much better nowadays. Tyler Jay was drafted by the Twins and was on the fast track to the big leagues but injuries slowed his roll. Taylor Ward was a super safe pick for the Angels but it's been a slow slog.

There were seven second rounders.
Lucas Herbert (ATL), A.J. Minter (ATL), Mitchell Hansen (LAD), Austin Smith (SD), Thomas Eshelman (HOU), Andrew Moore (SEA) and Peter Lambert (COL).
Minter and Moore were the first in this group to make it to the big leagues. Moore was recently traded to the Rays in the trade that sent Denard Span and Alex Colome to Seattle. Eshelman was traded to the Phillies in the Ken Giles trade.

Three third rounders.
Blake Trahan (CIN), Mark Mathias (CLE) and Max Wotell (NYM). Wotell is now with Cincinnati after being sent there in the Jay Bruce trade.

Six players drafted in the fourth round and beyond.
Ryan Burr (ARI), Tate Matheny (BOS), Jake Lemoine (TEX), Gray Fenter (BAL), Trey Killian (COL) and Justin Garza (CLE). Killian has already been released BTW. Making him the second official "bust" in this set (my definition of bust for the purposes of this post is someone who didn't make it to the big leagues).

And finally six players who were drafted but didn't sign with the clubs that drafted them and went forth with their college commitments. This includes Kyle Funkhouser who you all saw before but never signed with the Dodgers even though they drafted him in the 1st round.

2016 Draftees:

There were only seven 2016 draftees in the set. They still pack a punch since that includes two first rounders in Zack Collins (CWS) and Blake Rutherford (NYY), two second rounders with Bryan Reynolds (SF) and Chris Okey (CIN), and two fourth rounders with Funkhouser (DET this time) and Nick Banks (WSH).
Austin Bergner was drafted by the Red Sox in the 38th round but didn't sign.
Rutherford is now with the White Sox after being the key prospect in the trade that brought David Robertson, Todd Frazier and Tommy Kahnle to the Bronx.

2017 Draftees:

And then the number of draftees balloons back to double digits with 11 in 2017.

That said, only seven of these players actually signed with their teams. Notable prospects include first overall pick Royce Lewis (MIN) and first round pick Hunter Greene (CIN) along with second rounders Ryan Vilade (COL) and Mark Vientos (NYM). Others from the class who did go on to sign were Bailey Ober (MIN), Justin Bullock (MIL) and Xavier LeGrant (BOS).

Noah Campbell, Cordell Dunn Jr., Steven Williams and Raymond Gil were drafted by various teams but they all went though with their college commitments and didn't sign. Williams was drafted by the Yankees FWIW.

2018 Draftees:

Now before we start with the class of 2018, let me just say that it's barely been a week since the 2018 draft ended (as of the time of writing this post). It remains to be seen if the players here actually go ahead and sign with the clubs that drafted them (I think some are more assured than others). This post will be updated later to reflect where these players ended up more accurately, but for now consider them all drafted but (as of now) mostly unsigned.

Anyway by the time the 2018 draft had finished, this set had managed to produce seven more draftees (of which only two were first time draftees). Also three of the seven players were first/second rounders.
 - Nick Madrigal was taken fourth overall by the Chicago White Sox. He was a consensus top five pick leading up to the draft and was probably the very best college bat in the whole draft. White Sox got themselves a really good player here.
 - Brice Turang was taken 21st overall in the first round by the Milwaukee Brewers. Turang is a very high caliber prospect who has been seen so much by scouts that some even developed prospect fatigue before he was even draft eligible, lol. That said, his potential with the bat is still not to be overlooked and the Brewers got themselves a fine player to boost their farmsystem (sidenote, Turang was one of the draft eligible guys I would've been okay with the Yankees getting).
 - Luken Baker was taken in the 2nd round by the St. Louis Cardinals. He's got power, tons of it. What he hasn't been able to do is stay healthy enough to take advantage of that power. But the Cardinals clearly hope that they can do something about that.
 - Elih Marrero was taken in the 8th round by the Boston Red Sox on day two. A switch hitting catcher whose collegiate career was marred by poor performance and getting arrested for driving under the influence. Red Sox likely picked him because of his bat and his potential with it.
 - Joe DeMers was taken in the 11th round by the Oakland Athletics on day three. Threw a perfect game this season for the University of Washington and might be something special thanks to his low-90's fastball, slider and changeup. If he signs that is.
 - L.T. Tolbert was drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 13th round. A shortstop/infielder out of the University of South Carolina. He's got a strong arm and a glove that'll play anywhere in the infield. Question is if his bat develops.
 - Austin Bergner was drafted by the D-Backs in the 32nd round. He has a really good but inconsistent fastball, curveball and changeup. As a result he's had both great results and not-so great results as an amateur. Everything seems to indicate that he's likely going back to UNC.

Potential 2019 (and Beyond) Draftees:

So that leaves us with (at least) 16 players still yet to be drafted/signed. Maybe some of them will find their time to be called up on draft day come next year. For others it might be later. Who knows? I just hope that this set can produce a few more first rounders until the end comes.


In all, I'd say that this set has been an absolute goldmine and I can't thank P-Town Tom enough for sending me TWO complete sets. This set is four years old and yet it's still keeps on giving us (read: me) a never ending stream of absolute gems. The way this card set produced both past, current and future prospects is incredible and made for a really really fun ride for me. It's been a really unique experience and just a real treat.

What other set do you know can claim to have several first rounders across multiple years BEFORE those players were even drafted? Maybe the other Stars & Stripes sets that came after, but still! For a set that came out in 2015, it did a marvelous job of previewing a handful of future draftees and first rounders to come.

As of this post there are only two real "busts" (in terms of never reaching the big leagues). How a significant chunk of the amateurs (at the time of the set's release) went on to actually be drafted and turn pro is amazing in itself though. The fact that there are still a handful of players whose journey is yet to begin left only adds to the amazingness of it all.

So yeah, dozens of first rounders, two first overall picks, lots of great talent scattered about, this set has it all. For a set that PTT originally sent me just to help me with TTMs/IPs, it's grown to be so much more to me these past few days. I've had so much fun with this set that it's at the top of the "greatest modern day baseball card sets list" for me. Right up there with Sega Card Gen. It's that good.

You know what this means right? That I'm going to really end up scrapping big leaguers or any minor leaguers above high-A altogether and switch to these amateur Team USA/Perfect Game/Under Armour/Contenders/MiLB cards. Hmm...

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


  1. Wow, that's a lot of name brand players in that set! Good looking card design too.

    1. Yup, this set is surprisingly heavy on name brand power.

  2. I was chasing that Kris Bryant auto and never found one, but I did manage to put together a number of sets and one frankenset made up of only parallels. It was a super fun break and would love to rip some more if I could find a cheap box or two.
    I'm glad you're digging the set so much!

    1. Thanks again for the sets Tom. Wanna give future USA sets a shot? lol.