Saturday, October 3, 2015

Before They Were Stars

I've been on a bit of a minor league baseball card kick of late, and a couple of weeks ago I stumbled across a seller on Sportlots with quite a few that I was interested in.  Some were new additions to my Red Sox collection.  Others, like the Bartolo Colon above, I just found interesting because I like the player.  Bartolo certainly looks a lot different on this 1995 Best release than he does nowadays!

The next two cards are among my favorites from this lot, just because it's not the easiest thing to track down cards of the little known Norwich Navigators.  The AA franchise for the Yankees at the time, the team played their home games just 20 minutes or so from where I grew up.  I used to love sitting in the sun at Dodd Stadium back in the day and enjoying a game with my family.

I distinctly remember outfielder Nick DelVecchio being a crowd favorite in the team's inaugural 1995 season.  Nick clubbed 19 home runs, 23 doubles and drove in 74 runs that year.  Unfortunately, despite getting promoted to AAA, he was out of pro baseball just a couple of years later and never made the Majors.

Catcher Mike Figga was another one of the better players on those early Navigators teams.  Unlike DelVecchio, he would make it to the big show, making his MLB debut at age 27 in 1997.  He actually got a World Series ring with the Yankees in 1998, having appeared in a single regular season game that year, and would go on to play a few dozen games with the Orioles as well.

The Portland Sea Dogs are now affiliated with the Boston Red Sox, but in 1995 when these cards were printed up they were part of the Marlins farm system.  Either way, Edgar Renteria's lone season with the Red Sox was enough to get me to add this one to my cart for 18 cents.

Pretty interesting to see Paul Konerko donning the tools of ignorance.  Konerko was actually the #1 overall catching prospect in the nation during his senior year of high school.  This one's also interesting to me in that Paul was born just down the road from me in Providence, Rhode Island.

That's it for the '95 Best set, the rest of today's cards come from the Topps Pro Debut releases of the last few years.  We'll start off with a couple of new cards for my Red Sox collection from the 2011 set.  Pitcher Stolmy Pimentel never played with the Boston Red Sox, but he did spend some time on the Pirates roster in 2013 and 2014, and got into 8 games this past season with the Texas Rangers.

There was a point in time a few years ago where I would have been ecstatic to land this one.  Will Middlebrooks looked like the Red Sox third baseman of the future when he clubbed 15 home runs, 50+ RBI and had a slugging percentage over .500 in less than half a season with Boston in 2012.  Looks like they made the right call in moving on from him though, as Will saw some time in the minor leagues again this year with the San Diego Padres, and has batted just .191 and .212 in his last two seasons.

Here's a nice Yordano Ventura.  You could easily overlook it, but I like that the baseball is headed straight for you in this photograph.  Interesting card of a young man who was at times the talk of the league during last year's playoff run for the Royals.

Before he was making headlines and participating in the home run derby, Todd Frazier was taking his cuts with the Louisville Bats, which I think is a great team name.

How about a few from the 2012 Pro Debut set?  A nice early career card of one of the emerging third basemen in the American League, Manny Machado...

...and perhaps my favorite card in this entire lot, a new Xander Bogaerts for my collection from his time with the Greenville Drive.  I'd been on the lookout for a copy of this one for quite some time, but could never seem to find it at a decent price (25 cents or less) until now.

A got a couple of other 2012s for my Red Sox collection from the seller as well, another Will Middlebrooks...

...and the guy who was inexplicably in seemingly every 2015 Topps release, Bryce Brentz.

Moving forward to the 2013 set, we've got Astros outfielder George Springer...

...Mets fireballer Noah Syndergaard... of the bright spots in the current Red Sox rotation, Eduardo Rodriguez...

...and another guy who could have a spot in the 2016 starting rotation, lefty Henry Owens.

Here's another Bryce Brentz.  This guy kind of annoys me, and it's got nothing to do with her personality or his abilities as a player.  I just can't stand when Topps creates so many cards of a guy who's barely played at the MLB level, while middle relievers and utility guys are constantly overlooked.

Due to an injury to Christian Vazquez, Blake Swihart saw a lot more action behind the plate for Boston this year than he would have otherwise.  He's had a decent year, but he's young enough that he's still a bit of an unknown.

Here's a guy who's definitely not an unknown!  At just 24 years old Nolan's had a real breakout campaign, smashing 40+ home runs and 130+ RBI for a pretty bad Rockies team.  The future is certainly bright for this young third baseman.

Closing things out, I've got a pair from last year's set.  Another Henry Owens, this time depicted with the AA Portland Sea Dogs....

...and my very first card of the inspiring Steven Matz!  With the Red Sox long ago out of playoff contention, I'll be rooting for the Mets coming out of the NL this post-season.

A nice variety of minor league cards there, and the grand total for all 23 of these was a whopping $5.20.  Can't complain about that!


Mark Kaz said...

Great job, Shane! Some big-time names in there, for sure. And you can't beat that price. I think the Konerko in catchers gear is one of the finest of the lot!

Mark Hoyle said...

Very good haul

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