Thursday, May 21, 2015

Oriole #994- Tyler Wilson

For the second time in the last three games, a pitcher has made their Orioles and MLB debut when Tyler Wilson took the mound in the ninth inning against the Mariners with the Orioles losing 4-1 to become the 994th player in Orioles history. He was officially recalled from AAA Norfolk on Sunday when Bud Norris was placed on the DL with lingering issues with bronchitis, but he had been with the club for a few previous days as a member of the "taxi squad".

Tyler allowed two singles in the inning but also got Robinson Cano to ground into a double play over his scoreless frame. I'm sure that he was relieved to not allow any runs in his debut.

He is the second consecutive home-grown player to debut for the O's, after Mike Wright's debut this past Sunday, and was selected in the 10th round of the 2010 draft out of the University of Virginia. He was also born and raised in VA, so it sounds like he had a nice contingent of family and friends at the game last night to seem his MLB debut.

It sounds like Tyler will continue to pitch out of the bullpen for the time being, but is a very likely candidate for the starting rotation in 2016. He seems to have made quite the impression on Buck Showalter during this past Spring Training, as he went 1-0 with a 0.64 ERA covering 14 innings over 6 games, and was given many opportunities to appear in games over some more senior pitchers who were competing for jobs on the big league club.

Good luck with the Orioles Tyler!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Oriole #993- The Mike is Wright

Now THAT'S how you make an MLB debut! 

Mike Wright was recalled from AAA Norfolk last Wednesday and announced his presence to the baseball world on Sunday. Due to an illness and an injury to Bud Norris and Chris Tillman respectively, Mike was called upon Sunday to make the start against the Angels, and a lineup that included MVP winners Mike Trout and Albert Pujols. 

How did he respond? Only by shutting down the Halos on just four hits over 7.1 innings and striking out six, including Trout. His Orioles debut, which was also his MLB debut, was among the best ever for Orioles starters, and I can say that I had the pleasure to be there with my family. It was a game that we won't soon forget, and I'm sure that it must have been one of the best days of Mike's life. 

Mike was drafted by the Orioles in the third round of the 2011 draft out of East Carolina University, and Bowman was cool enough to mess up his first, and one of the only current, cards of him by somehow photoshopping him into a Nationals uniform. I remember when Mike signed this card for me during his time as a Frederick Key in 2012, and I asked him how he felt about being pictured with the wrong team. At this point, I forget what he said but he seemed to take it and stride and didn't react too strongly.

I can also tell by the Old Man Card that Mike signed and personalized for me that I found that photo a few years back. I'm pretty confident it was taken on a back field during Spring Training (probably 2012 or '13) and at that point was one of the only shots of him in an Orioles uniform. Looking at the picture now, you can barely tell that it's him, but trust me that it is!

On one of my family's spring training trips, we happened to stay at the same hotel as some of the O's smaller name players and minor leaguers who were in big league camp and Mike was one of those players. I don't remember specifically interacting with him around the hotel, but you could pretty obviously tell that he was a player by his size (he's 6' 6", 215).

And I would be remiss not to mention that I read an account by how Mike preps for his games by reading a book in the stands prior to his starts. The book he was reading on Sunday was one of the Harry Potter books, which my wife and I both enjoy, so it makes him even easier to root for!

Good luck Mike! I hope you have many more starts for the Orioles like the one on Sunday. But even if you don't, no one can ever take away the fact that you are the 993rd player to appear in a game for the O's!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Jaret Wright Makes it Right

The past couple weeks have been very good to me and my collection as I was able to add not one but two new autographs from my long-time need list. I wrote about my Freddy Garcia autograph earlier this week, and now I happily will also get to write about Jaret Wright. 

I covered Jaret's career in a post that I wrote way back in December 2011, and nothing has changed, baseball-wise for him since that time. The three games he pitched for the Orioles at the beginning of the 2007 season were the end of his MLB career. He pitched in four minor league games at hi A Frederick and AA Bowie towards the end of the 2007 season, and spent Spring Training 2008 with the Pirates but wasn't able to pitch well enough to get back to the show.

Jaret was featured in three major release sets as an Oriole in 2007, this Topps base set card, Topps Heritage, and Upper Deck Series 2. I know that a lot of other collectors work on Heritage sets, so I figured I had a much better shot at coming across a signed copy of the Topps or Upper Deck card. It just took over eight years for it to work out. I saw one signed copy of his Orioles Topps Heritage card on ebay maybe two years ago but someone else had bought it before I had the chance to do so, but this time around I quickly grabbed this signed card as soon as I saw it for sale.

I didn't really get back into collecting autographs hard-core until sometime in 2008, otherwise I would have almost certainly attended the Keys or Baysox games that Jaret was scheduled to pitch at to try to get one of his Orioles cards signed then as minor league rehab games are always a pretty good shot to get rehabbing Major Leaguers to sign, but I happily am adding this autograph to my collection now, better late than never!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Finally Freddy

Anytime that I am able to knock a name off of my list of Orioles autographs that I need is a good day, and today, I am happily knocking Freddy Garcia's name off of that list. 

Freddy made his Orioles debut back on May 4, 2013 and served as the Orioles fifth starter for about two months before being shipped to the Braves. I never got his autograph during his time with the O's but he had a few certified autographs out there, and I purchased a Mariners auto and plugged it into my collection.

Even though he was an well-traveled MLB veteran he was only in Baltimore for about two months, so I figured he wouldn't be featured in any sets as a member of the Orioles. Then on November 14, 2013 Topps released their Heritage High Number set, with Freddy pictured as an Oriole. No matter that he hadn't been an Oriole for nearly five months, and he finished the season with the Braves. Topps made me add Freddy's name to my need list.

Then Freddy spent the entirety of the 2014 season pitching in Taiwan. So I had no chance to get this card signed. And as far as I know, he still lives in his native Venezuela in the off-season, so obviously I wasn't sending him a TTM request that way. Freddy seemed out of reach, possibly permanently.

But then, the Dodgers signed him this past March 30th to a minor league deal. A window of opportunity to get this card autographed opened and I sent it out on a consignment via a connection on SCN. And there it is, a beautifully autographed Freddy Garcia Orioles card. And it was signed none-too-soon as Freddy was released on April 22, mere days after this was signed. And now, I don't have to worry about Freddy Garcia anymore.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Oriole #992- Rey Navarro

As the Orioles are faced with yet another early season injury as Ryan Flaherty is now heading for the disabled list, it at least leads to the first post-Opening-Day-roster-member debut of the 2015 season as Rey Navarro has been recalled from AAA Norfolk. Rey will be making his Orioles and MLB debut in tonight's game, and is being thrown right into the fire starting at second base and batting seventh against the Red Sox. After eight seasons in the minor league farm systems of the Diamondbacks, Royals, Reds, and now Orioles, he is finally getting that call-up. 

If you have been reading the blog recently, Rey is one of the players who I wrote about in my posts about the lead-up to Oriole #1000. I correctly predicted that since he was already on the 40-man roster, he would likely make his debut prior to #1000. And now the field of candidates for that special number has theoretically been lowered as well. 

Thankfully, Rey is one of the (many) new players in the Orioles organization that my dad was able to get to sign an autograph for me on his Spring Training trip. That, along with his Orioles Old Man Card, leave me feeling confident that I very likely have the only Rey Navarro signed Orioles card out there. Thanks Dad, you tha man! 

Rey only has one major release baseball card, in 2007 Bowman Draft Draft Picks as a member of the Diamondbacks, and was also included in the 2008 Tristar PROjections and '08 Justifiable minor league sets. If you are looking for cards of his though, make sure to search for Reynaldo Navarro. 

I have a funny story about Rey from this year's Orioles Fanfest. As an autograph collector, I take pride in my ability to ID pretty much any players on the O's roster, as well as many of the minor leaguers. (I'm good with faces, not sure how or why, but I am.) However, while walking around the Baltimore Convention Center and taking in the festivities, I ended up in the kids room for a few minutes. A few players were around the room playing games with the kids. Ryan Flaherty was playing air hockey, and (I believe) JJ Hardy was up front pulling bingo numbers along with someone who I couldn't place. So I figured he must not be an Orioles player, if I couldn't place him. After Fanfest, I realized that I was wrong, and that the other guy at the bingo table was none-other than Rey Navarro. 

My dad's autograph prowess on his Spring Training trip was so strong that he was able to get Rey to sign two of his cards, so if anyone needs his autograph for their collection, just let me know and maybe we can work out a trade!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

A Friend Makes it to the Show - Alan's Ironbirds Debut

So this probably should have been the first autograph that I wrote about after Spring Training, but better late than never right? It's not everyday that someone you know gets to make their professional baseball debut and gets featured on a baseball card. Last summer, my buddy Alan Strout won a contest through Topps to make his "Pro Debut". Here are a couple articles that describe the contest and Alan's story. 

I had the pleasure of meeting Alan probably three or four years ago on a trip to visit the Orioles Spring Training home in Sarasota, Florida. Alan and I share an interest in the Orioles, and specifically Orioles autographs. As memory recalls, Alan had found his way to the this blog and we quickly hit it off. Each of the past few years, I've enjoyed trying to collect autographs with Alan during our respective trips to Spring Training. Well, as you probably know, I didn't make the trip this year, but my parents did and look what Alan had waiting for them to pass along to me. I can honestly say that this is the first signed baseball card I've ever received that featured someone who I know on it. In all likelihood, that will probably always be the case, so this will hold a special place in my collection.

I attended Alan's debut in Aberdeen last summer and it was great to see him have the chance to sign autographs for fans on the concourse, deliver the lineup card to the umpires, and spend time in the dugout and on the field with the players. I'm sure that it was an amazing and exceptionally unique experience. I'm sure that most of us would have settled for just being featured on the card! Congratulations Alan!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Another Look at Oriole #1000 Candidates


Pitchers (click column headers to sort)
#NamePosBatThwHtWtDOBStatusMLB 40-man
36Pedro BeatoPRR6' 6"23010-27-1986ActiveNo
25Michael BowdenPRR6' 3"21509-09-1986ActiveNo
38Cesar CabralPLL6' 3"25002-11-1989ActiveNo
15Zach DaviesPRR6' 0"15002-07-1993ActiveNo
Dane De La RosaPRR6' 7"24502-01-19837-day DLNo
59Oliver DrakePRR6' 4"21501-13-1987ActiveYes
37Eddie GamboaPRR6' 1"21512-21-1984ActiveYes
40Steve JohnsonPRR6' 1"22008-31-1987ActiveNo
43Chris JonesPLL6' 2"20509-19-1988ActiveNo
46Pat McCoyPLL6' 3"22008-03-1988ActiveNo
66T.J. McFarlandPLL6' 3"21906-08-1989ActiveYes
30Hector Daniel RodriguezPLL5' 11"19512-11-19847-day DLNo
33Chaz RoePRR6' 5"19010-09-1986ActiveNo
34Tyler WilsonPRR6' 2"18509-25-1989ActiveYes
28Mike WrightPRR6' 6"21501-03-1990ActiveYes
52Zach BookerCRR6' 0"22004-24-19857-day DLNo
45Steve ClevengerCLR5' 10"21004-05-1986ActiveYes
24Audry PerezCRR5' 10"22012-23-1988ActiveNo
13Michael Almanzar3BRR6' 3"19012-02-1990ActiveNo
11Paul JanishSSRR6' 2"20010-12-1982ActiveNo
2Rey NavarroSSSR5' 10"18512-22-19897-day DLYes
12Jayson Nix2BRR5' 11"19508-26-1982ActiveNo
41Chris ParmeleeIFLL6' 1"22002-24-1988ActiveNo
1Garabez RosaSSRR6' 2"16610-12-1989ActiveNo
22Christian Walker1BRR6' 0"22003-28-1991ActiveYes
10Dariel AlvarezRFRR6' 2"18011-07-1988ActiveNo
5Julio BorbonCFLL6' 0"19502-20-1986ActiveNo
14Nolan ReimoldRFRR6' 4"20510-12-1983ActiveNo
51Henry UrrutiaLFLR6' 3"20002-13-1987ActiveYes

There's the current 2015 roster of the Orioles' AAA affiliate Norfolk Tides. It's a relatively safe assumption to make that these are the most likely candidates to make the jump up to the big league team in the near future, thus being the most likely to be Oriole #1000. Obviously, the Orioles could always make a trade and that special debut could be a player that isn't currently in the organization, and/or the O's have occasionally called up a player directly from the AA Bowie Baysox since they are located closer to Baltimore and certainly have some talent on their roster as well. 

I wrote about the highlighted players on Tuesday, so I won't rehash what I wrote about them. Today's post will focus on the remaining 18 members of the Tides, and their chances to be Oriole #1000. 

I would put this group of Dariel Alvarez, Paul Janish, Jayson Nix, & Chris Parmelee among the most likely of the remaining 18 Tides to play for the Orioles this year. Alvarez is a solid prospect who will almost positively be an Oriole at some point, when is really the only quesiton. The other three guys are MLB veterans who play solid defense and were some of the last spring training cuts so they seem to be just a DL move away from Baltimore. 

My second tier of possible candidates for Oriole #1000 includes Julio Borbon, Michael Bowden, Zach Davies, Pat McCoy, Audry Perez, Chaz Roe, & Garabez Rosa. I feel like anyone from this group could make it to Baltimore or none of them could. Probably the most likely is Davies, another prospect, who was rewarded with a few late March Spring Training road starts. Borbon, Roe, & Rosa played a good bit for the O's during Spring Training which could bode well for them. Bowden was signed near the end of spring training, and have over 100 MLB games under his belt, and the team picked up McCoy off of waivers from the Tigers last year, so the O's obviously see something in both of them. And Perez is a catcher, and let's be honest, you never know when you'll need a catcher. 

My "who knows" group includes two guys who were out of the Orioles system but were resigned over the winter, Michael Almanzar and Pedro Beato. I'm also including Cesar Cabral and Dane De La Rosa in this group since they've had some MLB experience. 

And finally the three remaining players I will put in my "I just don't see it" category. Zach Booker is a bullpen catcher and is on the roster pretty much only to warm up pitchers, Chris Jones has been in the Orioles organization since 2013 and hasn't been mentioned in any call-up scenarios I've ever heard, and Hector Daniel Rodriguez seems to be a career Mexican League/AAA guy.  

So there's my two cents on the Tides roster and how likely each player is to make it to Baltimore. What do you think? Do you care? I'm pretty sure that I might be the only one out here who is even aware of the pending milestone, well until I started writing about it and sharing it at least.