Monday, April 24, 2017

Oriole # 1020- Wade Miley

Well, it finally happened, after attempting to get an Orioles card signed by Wade Miley since he was traded to the Orioles last July, I'm finally able to scratch him off of my need list. And it only took me nine months!

Wade came to the Orioles organization via a trade with the Mariners on July 31, 2016; the O's sent prospect Ariel Miranda to Seattle to complete the deal. Probably within a week of the transaction, my dad had made Wade Miley Orioles Old Man Cards, and I attempted to get them signed a handful of times through the end of the 2016 season. Every time I was at a game, Wade consistently ignored requests from fans to sign. I even had him one on one a couple times and was turned down. 

After the 2016 season, Wade was included in the 2016 Topps Update set as an Oriole (the personalized card on the left), and I had to officially include him on my autograph need list. Oh well, I figured that I could knock his autograph out at Fanfest in January. Except he wasn't there, which is really strange considering that almost every US based member of the team attends the yearly event, which I assume is a contractual obligation. 

Ok, I thought, well I can hopefully get him at Spring Training. But that didn't work out either. I was waved off a few times by him and I didn't see him sign once over the week that I was in Sarasota. By that point, I was pretty bummed out, as Spring Training is generally the best bet to knock out some of the tougher players, as they generally seem more willing to sign with the smaller crowds and more relaxed environment. One of my other autographing friends who spent the entire of duration of Spring Training attending O's games didn't have any luck with Wade either. 

To top things off, I couldn't even find any signed Orioles cards for sale anywhere. Which kind of indicated to me that I wasn't the only person who Wade was not signing for, and my frustrations continued.

Until yesterday. Sunday's have historically been the best day to get pitchers' autographs at Camden Yards as there isn't any batting practice on the field and most of them seem to do long toss or other warm-ups in front of the fans. Wade appeared to be throwing a bullpen session when I got to the came, and as he was walking back to the dugout, some fans called him over. 

I didn't have much hope, but he came over and probably signed autographs for 20 minutes. He probably signed for 200 people, and since I wasn't sure if I would have another chance to get his autograph, I asked him to sign two cards and he obliged. He signed my son's ball as well, and honestly seemed very personable and friendly. He was joking around with everyone and seemed to be a pretty nice guy. What a nice turn of events, and I can rest easy knowing that my autograph need list just got a little shorter. Thanks Wade!

Friday, April 7, 2017

Oriole #1025- Welington Castillo

Welcome to the 2017 Orioles baseball season, starting only four days late here at the Great Orioles Autograph Project; which let's face it, is pretty timely for me these days.

This year's Opening Day roster includes four new faces to the Orioles. (In addition to one that I still am trying to track down from last year, since a Wade Miley Orioles autograph has continued to elude me since he was traded to the O's last August.) The new members to the 2017 Baltimore Orioles 25 man Opening Day roster are C Welington Castillo, OF Seth Smith, OF Craig Gentry, and LHP Vidal Nuno. Three of those guys made their Orioles debuts on Opening Day, and I'm guessing that you can figure out who this post is about by the little clue up there at the top.

Let me just get this out of the way first. Matt Wieters, the former top prospect, my favorite player, and the O's regular catcher for most of the past eight seasons is no longer on the team. That's a tough thing for a fan to deal with, but the writing had been on the wall. I was shocked that he was back in 2016, as he became one of the first ever free agents to accept a qualifying offer from his former team. It was nearly a foregone conclusion that he wouldn't be back after the O's did not extend another offer after the 2016 season.

Unfortunately, he never attained the level of success that the Orioles or their fans had hoped for; I mean this guy was the top prospect in all of baseball at one point and some people were ready to anoint his as a Hall of Famer in waiting before his MLB debut. I admit, I overvalued him early on, but I was not alone. I will miss him being on the Orioles, especially since he's now playing for the somewhat-rival Natinals, but I enjoyed rooting for him for a long time. Now I just need to figure out who my new favorite Oriole will be!

So anyway, no pressure on Welington Castillo from me or anything...he's only replacing the guy who had been my favorite player for about a decade. But realistically, he very well might be an offensive and defensive upgrade over Wieters, and anything that makes the Orioles better is a good thing for all of us. The Orioles signed Castillo to a one year deal with an option on December 16th after the Diamondbacks surprisingly released him.

As another year begins, my dad once again came through with his Old Man Cards (OMCs) to help ensure that I can have signed Orioles cards of any possible player for my collection. He really enjoys making them, and I really appreciate his help. In addition to making this card, he actually got it signed for me too, since Welington was with the Dominican World Baseball Classic team for the duration of my time in Sarasota this year. It must be nice to be semi-retired and be able to spend a month down there, hopefully I can live that life in another 30 years! But I won't complain about a short (mostly yearly) trip to balmy Florida!

Welington has played in both of the Orioles games so far, and is 3-7 at the plate and has looked solid behind it as well. He seems to have really meshed with the pitching staff, especially considering that he spent a large chunk of Spring Training away from the O's pitchers.

One interesting item that I came across while researching this post is that in 2015 Welington had been  traded from the Mariners to the D'Backs for two other current Orioles, Mark Trumbo and Vidal Nuno. And now they all play in Baltimore together. Baseball is funny like that sometimes.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Oriole # 1022- Michael Bourn

As I anxiously await my trip to Sarasota for Orioles Spring Training, I figure that it's about time to wrap up the 2016 debuts before the 2017 season officially starts. I will attempt to do a better job with keeping these posts timely during the upcoming season, since they are essentially about the only posts I keep up with at all these days. I think that I'm beyond apologizing for lengthy delays between posts at this point, it just is what it is, but I don't want the blog to completely die off at least.

My parents have already been enjoying the Florida weather for a few weeks now and I'm extremely jealous happy that they have are getting to watch baseball as I continue to sit around in Maryland. But since my dad enjoys getting autographs almost as much as I do, it does come with the nice benefit of his already graphing some of the players that I might need for 2017. As well as tracking down one player that I still needed from 2016, Michael Bourn.

Michael was traded to the Orioles from the Diamondbacks on August 31, 2016, made his Orioles debut on September 2, and went on the appear in 24 games for the O's over the last month of the season. He will be best remembered for starting a relay throw on September 16th against the Rays. In the top of the ninth inning, he fielded a line drive down the left field line and started a 7-5-2 relay to throw out the tying run at the plate, locking down the win and preserving Zach Britton's perfect season.

I failed in a few attempts at getting his autograph last season, and once he was included as an Oriole in the 2017 Topps set (and late the '17 Heritage set), I had to add him to my need list. As the off-season lingered without his signing with a team, I was concerned that his time in baseball might be over and I would not get a chance to have him sign one of his Orioles cards. Fortuitously, he re-signed with the Orioles on February 20th and my dad wasted no time in getting him to sign and personalize this card for my collection.

Thanks for your help yet again Old Man! I'm looking forward to joining you in Florida!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Oriole #1023- Drew Stubbs

Wow, sorry about that everyone, I have no idea how I let three plus months go by without a post, although it's become more and more common around here recently. I'm still around, I still collect Orioles autographs, but my priorities in life have just been different as my son is growing up way too quickly.

A recent, unanticipated Christmas gift has motivated me to get my act together for a post. The Orioles added a few veteran players to boost their roster at the end of 2016 and my dad quickly produced Old Man Cards of the trio of Wade Miley, Michael Bourn, and Drew Stubbs. In the few games that we were able to attend towards the end of the season while those guys were on the roster, we unfortunately struck out on getting the cards signed. So my dad took the initiative to send TTM requests to all three guys to see what might happen. I was pessimistic as none of the three seemed to really sign autographs that way, but it never hurts to try.

About a week before we did our family Christmas gift exchange, he got a self addressed envelope back and to his surprise, check out what was inside!

Two signed, personalized Drew Stubbs OMCs! It was a great gift and a truly unexpected surprise to add to my collection. It was nice to knock off another autograph before the end of 2016.

The Orioles selected Drew off of waivers from the Rangers on August 31st, and he went on to appear in 20 games for the O's. He had three hits over 22 at-bats and was mainly used as a late inning defensive replacement or pinch runner. Unfortunately, he didn't make much of an impression in Baltimore and I doubt that he will be brought back in 2017. But thankfully, I don't need to worry about tracking him down with another team to try to get these cards signed.

Thanks for all of your help Old Man. And I hope that you all have a Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Oriole # 1019- Logan Ondrusek

Whew, a lot of these late season additions to the Orioles roster have given me a run for my money in my attempts to add their autographs to my collection. Which has caused me to fall behind on my debut posts as well. But don't worry, I'm still here, just busy trying to catch up with all the new guys around town.

Logan Ondrusek's signing came completely out of left field, or I suppose more accurately, Japan, where he had been pitching for the past two seasons after spending parts of his first five seasons pitching for the Reds. In a very unexpected and Dan Duquetteish transaction, the Orioles signed him to a Major League deal on July 29th and designated Chaz Roe for assignment. This was right at the trade deadline as other teams were making bigger and better moves, so I think most of the Orioles fan base was beyond puzzled by this addition to the roster.

Logan made his Orioles debut the day after being added to the roster and proceeded to pitch in seven games for the Orioles over two stints with the team. Over 6.1 IP, he allowed 9 hits, 7 earned runs which worked out to a 9.95 ERA. Needless to say, things didn't go well. He was designated for assignment on August 26th and ultimately passed through waivers and ended the season at AA Bowie.

Shortly after Logan was added to the team, I was able to trade for this signed Reds card of his through a friend on SportsCollectors.Net. So it served as a nice placeholder in my collection. However, my dad quickly churned out some Old Man Cards of Ondrusek, and it was preference to save this post until I got them signed. And that's where my attempts to get these cards signed get interesting. 

During his first stint with the Orioles, from July 30-August 11, the team only had three weekday home games which I was unable to attend. Luckily, he got optioned to the AA Bowie Baysox, which is the closest affiliate to me, so I planned to go to a game there on Friday August 19th, but something came up and I couldn't make it. So I decided to go the following Saturday, 8/29. But by that point, the Orioles had recalled him from Bowie and designated him for assignment, so he was in DFA limbo when I attended that game. The Baysox final home game of 2016 was Thursday 9/1 and the day before that it was announced that he had cleared waivers and would head back to Bowie. I went to the game with my family and we waited for Logan who was one of the last players out of the clubhouse with only about five minutes to go before first pitch. Luckily, he was a nice guy and came over to sign for us as you can tell by the cards in this post. And that's my drawn out story about how Logan's signed and personalized Old Man Cards came to my collection. I hope you enjoyed it!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Oriole #1021- Parker Bridwell

I know that I'm skipping a few debuts at this point, but July/August is always a hard time of the season to keep up with autographs on the team as players are traded or acquired from other organizations and I don't have their autographs waiting to add to my collection. So I'm going to move ahead with a debut I was prepared for; that of the Orioles 9th round draft pick in the 2010 draft, Parker Bridwell.

Parker was drafted out of Hereford High School in Texas, and apparently could have been the quarterback at Texas Tech if he had chosen to go that route, so it seems like he was an all-around gifted athlete in high school. He worked his way through every level of the Orioles minor league system over the past seven years, at times seeming like a sure-fire Major Leaguer following up with other stretches where it seemed like he would never make it to the show. 

He has consistently been ranked as one of the Orioles highest prospects, owing at least in part to their shallow farm system, and was added to the 40-man roster prior to the 2016 season to protect him from the Rule 5 draft. Parker was also invited to the big league camp for the first time in 2016 so all the signs seemed to be pointing in the right direction for him. However, during the season, he battled some injuries and was also moved to the bullpen, where it seems like the team thinks his MLB future might be, so it took most of the season before he finally got the call to the O's. He made his MLB debut on Sunday August 21st against the Astros, and pitched two innings in relative mop up duty to help out the overtaxed Orioles bullpen. He gave up two hits, including a HR, and struck out two Astros batters.

I have a number of Parker's signed minor league cards from over the years, although he pitched in Aberdeen and Delmarva, two places that I didn't often get to during the years that I made it to the most minor league games. It feels nice to once again have been prepared for the debut of a new Oriole!

Parker has always seemed like a decent guy so I hope that he has finally found his way to the Orioles permanently. Good luck to him!

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Oriole #1018- Julio Borbon

Julio Borbon has lived on the periphery of the Orioles Major League roster for the past three seasons. He has been a guy whose name Buck Showalter has continued to randomly bring up at times when discussing players in the system that he likes, but Julio was consistently passed over when minor league outfielders were called up to Baltimore. I don't exactly know why that was, but he finally made his Orioles debut on July 20th.

Julio was originally brought into the Orioles fold during the Rule V draft way back in December 2013 when the team selected him from the Cubs organization. I don't know how a player who had played in almost 290 MLB games over parts of four seasons (mostly with the Rangers from 2009-11) was eligible for the Rule V draft but that's a post for another day.

The signed card at the top of this post was back in the early days of my dad's Old Man Cards and was made prior to spring training 2014. I wrote a post about this back then, but for whatever reason during my time spent chasing autographs that spring, Julio and Delmon Young were the hardest autographs for me to get. Luckily, on the last day of my trip, Julio did sign and personalize this card for me, so I've been ready for his O's debut for two and a half years.

The Orioles resigned Julio to a one year contract in 2015 and again in 2016, so there obviously seems to be something working between the team and him even though he continued to play solely in the minors. Interstingly, Julio was playing with the AA Bowie Baysox when he got called up to the Orioles, which means that at this point, the O's seem more likely to call up guys from AA than AAA to help in Baltimore. Hey, however they win is fine with me.

Once he made his Orioles debut, Julio played in five consecutive games for the team, and went 2-9 with a run scored. The team then outrighted him back the minors, which he apparently could have refused, but he once again opted to stay in the organization. So maybe we will see Julio in Baltimore again at some point, possibly in another 2-3 seasons.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Oriole #1017- Donnie Hart

For the time being, I'm still waiting for an autograph of Oriole #1015, but more debuts keep happening, so I'm moving forward to write about the more recent debuts. Hopefully, I will have something to show for 1015 in the near future.

As the Orioles search for a match-up type bullpen lefty continues, Donnie Hart has become the most recent player to attempt to fill that role for the Birds. His contract was selected from AA Bowie on July 15th, and he made his Orioles and MLB debut two days later in a game against the Rays in Tampa. He went on to pitch in three straight games, and has yet to allow a run. So far at the MLB level, he has pitched 2.2 innings, and allowed 2 hits, 2 walks, and struck out 1. That 1.50 WHIP isn't great, but the 0.00 ERA will probably keep him in Baltimore for the near future.

Donnie was drafted by the Orioles in the 27th round of the 2013 draft out of Texas State University. Over four seasons in the O's minor league system he has pitched for the Ironbirds, Shorebirds, Keys, and Baysox. He appeared in 117 games, all out of the bullpen, and had a 11-6 record with a 2.27 ERA. He also appeared in the Arizona Fall League following the 2015 season, which means the Orioles considered him to be some sort of prospect. And following Jayson Aquino, he became the second straight player to debut with the Orioles directly from AA. Although Hart wasn't already on the 40 man roster, which makes this move more surprising, but I guess it says something about how the O's perceive the lefty bullpen pitchers at AAA right now.

The two autographs above are the only autographs I have of Donnie, and luck was once again on my side as I got both of these cards signed at the same Bowie meet the team day that Jayson Aquino signed for me. So the meet the team day really came through for me! Since Hart wasn't on the O's 40 man, and I had no idea that he was on their radar, we hadn't made an Old Man Orioles Card of him at that point. My dad just made Donnie's first Orioles cards and hopefully we can get them signed sometime soon.

In the meantime, good luck in Baltimore Donnie!

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Oriole #1016- Jayson Aquino

(Once again, I'm going to skip writing about a debut since I don't yet have an autograph of the player who debuted. Hopefully, I will rectify that soon, but this one won't be quite as easy as Brian Duensing was a few weeks ago.)

Many times over the years in my experience with autographs, I seem to end with a lot of signatures of players who never rise the minor league ladder and make it to Baltimore. Other times, there are players who have played for the Orioles but it's quite frustrating to add their autographs to my collection, and a lot of time and effort can go into it. But then, every now and then, things seem to just work out well. That was the case of Jayson Aquino for me.

My dad made these OMC custom cards of Aquino and gave them to me on Saturday June 18th. The following day was Father's Day and the AA Bowie Baysox were having a meet the team and catch on the field event, so my wife and I decided to take our son to the game. So about 24 hours after I had these cards in hand, Jayson had signed both of them. And about two weeks later, he had made his Orioles debut and one of them was heading to my collection. Sometimes, it's just that easy!

To add some backstory, not long before that Father's Day weekend, I was checking the Orioles 40 man roster, and I noticed a few names that had slipped past me on their way into the organization. Based on past experiences, the Orioles, and most other teams I assume, prefer to make roster moves with players who are already on the 40 man, as opposed to designating someone and possibly losing them to another team.

Jayson Aquino had been acquired by the Orioles from the Cardinals back on April 7th, and since he had been on the Cardinals 40 man roster, rules stipulated that he had to be added to the O's 40 man. So he was, and then added to AA Bowie's roster. Since Bowie is significantly closer to Baltimore than AAA Norfolk, the fact that a player is playing there doesn't mean the Orioles don't like them. In fact, in recent years, at least Mychal Givens and Manny Machado have joined the O's directly from Bowie.

Aquino had a 4-7 record over 14 games, including 13 starts, with the Baysox but had a 3.25 ERA, so he was pitching well. As we all know, the Orioles pitching has been kind of a mess this year, so they are pretty much trying out all available arms at this point, and Jayson was recalled on Monday. He went on to make his MLB debut with the Orioles in the eighth inning of that night's game, and didn't allow any baserunners over two thirds of an inning.

Jayson was sent back to Bowie after yesterday's game against the Dodgers, so I might try to add a few more of his autographs to my collection at some point, as I still have one more of these Orioles customs to be signed in addition to his 2016 Baysox team set card. Maybe I should have gone through his line at the meet the team event one more time, but I'm just happy to already have his autograph to slide into my collection.

Thanks for your help with the cards Old Man, and good luck when you make it back to Baltimore Jayson!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Oriole #1013- Brian Duensing

In my last post about Oriole #1014, Odrisamer Despaigne, I mentioned that I was skipping Oriole #1013 since I didn't have an autograph of his yet. Oh what a difference a few days makes; within a span of about 24 hours, I got Brian Duensing to sign two cards for me at an O's game as well as receiving a third autograph of his via a trade. So now, I'm officially ready for my post about Oriole #1013, Brian Duensing.

I really got lucky to have Brian sign two cards for me at Saturday's game. We arrived at the game early as the gates opened and I headed directly to the field. I noticed that a lot of the pitchers were spread out in the outfield shagging fly balls as they do sometimes, and I started scanning for Brian. Luckily, he was in the right field corner, relatively close to where I was, and nearly as I got down to the field, Orioles BP ended and everyone started running off of the field. I called out his name and within about 4 minutes of being inside the stadium, I had the autographs I had come for, and my autograph experience was surprisingly easy for once. A lot of times over the years, I have spent hours chasing down autographs to get the same 2-3 players who have graciously signed for me many times over the years, so it was nice to have such a quick and productive effort.

Brian joined the Orioles organization in late May as a minor league free agent. He had been in the Royals system but had signed a deal with an opt-out date if he was not called up to the big league club. I'm quite sure that I read somewhere that his deal with the Orioles was a similar type of contract, but the Orioles obviously decided to bring him up to the big league squad instead of losing him. So on June 2nd, the O's selected his contract from AAA Norfolk.

Duensing has a lot of MLB experience, all of which came with the Twins from 2009-15. He pitched in 354 games for them, with a 41-37 record and a 4.13 ERA over that time and worked largely as a reliever, but did make 61 starts early in his career.

To date for the Orioles, he has pitched in seven games, and is more or less the lefty matchup reliever in the bullpen. Over 6.2 innings, he has a 5.40 ERA with three strikeouts while giving up nine hits and 2 walks. Hopefully that line will improve.

Since the vast majority of my autographing these days occurs during my trip to Spring Training, it's always mildly frustrating as players enter the Orioles organization after the start of the season. It happens every year and is a part of how rosters are constantly evolving, but I'm left scrambling as a player enters the Orioles system and is making their debut with the team in a matter of weeks. Thankfully, I was able to get a few of Duensing's autographs quickly, but it doesn't always work that way. Some players who have entered the organization mid-season (a-hem, Francisco Rodriguez), have been begrudgingly added to my need list and stayed there for years. Happily, I have a signed and personalized Old Man Card of Brian's to head right into my collection. As always, thanks for your help old man!

Good luck in Baltimore, Brian, And thanks for signing for me!

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Oriole #1014- Odrisamer Despaigne

(I am temporarily skipping a post about Oriole #1013 as I traded for an autograph of his, so for the time being, I'm writing about #1014. Check back soon (hopefully) for a post about #1013.)

The Orioles recalled Odrisamer Despaigne from AAA Norfolk on Tuesday as Vance Worley went on the disabled list, and he made his Orioles debut in last night's loss against the Red Sox. The loss had nothing to do with his effort however, he pitched 2.2 innings of scoreless relief, although he did give up three hits and 2 walks, so he needed some help from his defense to get through the outing. It seems like he will slide into Worley's role as the long-man/spot starter/whatever in the bullpen. 

You might recognize these autographs from one of my Spring Training posts about my 2016 trip back in March. At the time I wrote about how accommodating Odrisamer was any time he was asked to sign, and he easily had signed everything I brought for him very quickly. As I seem to write in just about every other post, thanks to my dad's Old Man Cards, I already have a signed Orioles card of Odrisamer to slide directly into my collection. That makes things easy for me!

The Orioles acquired Odrisamer in a trade with the Padres this past February in exchange for minor league pitcher, Jean Cosme. Over parts of two seasons in San Diego, he had a 9-16 record with a 4.74 ERA over 50 games, including 34 starts.

Just to clear something up, according to, his name is pronounced OH-drees-ah-meer DES-pawn-yay and might be one of the most challenging names to type and pronounce in Orioles history. Although I can't speak to the specific background of his name, he was born in Cuba and defected from the Cuban National Team during a tournament in Europe in 2013.

It will be interesting to see what the future brings with the Orioles and Odrisamer as the team needs a roster spot for Yovani Gallardo this weekend, but as long as he holds onto his 0.00 ERA, he might stick around for a while!

Friday, June 3, 2016

Oriole #1012- Francisco Pena

Last night's Orioles game featured two players making their debuts for the team. It's pretty rare for multiple debuts to occur in the same game other than at the beginning of the season in April or around the beginning of September, once the call-ups occur due to the expanded roster. One of the debuts, I was prepared for, while the other caught me relatively off-guard. In large part thanks to my dad, I was fully ready for Francisco Pena's Orioles debut. Not only did my dad produce his ubiquitous Old Man Cards, but he actually got three of these signed at Spring Training before I even arrived in Sarasota!

It seems like the Orioles generally pay a large amount of attention to the catching depth throughout the organization, so it's no surprise to see them sign a few extra catchers during the offseason. The O's purchased Francisco's contract from the Royals on December 2nd, and added him to their 40 man roster. He had played in nine games for Kansas City during the 2014 &'15 seasons, and was mostly known for his skills as a defensive catcher, which is something highly valued by the O's. 

The Orioles recalled Francisco from AAA Norfolk this past Tuesday after Caleb Joseph suffered a "testicular injury" (retching sounds) during Monday's game. He made his Orioles debut yesterday against the Red Sox and didn't disappoint. He kept Ubaldo's head screwed on tightly for the first five innings, quite and accomplishment given his recent performance on the mound, and went 2-4 with a HR, 2 runs scored, and 2 RBI. It was his first MLB home run, so it was a nice night all around for him. Not to mention that he caught the only runner attempting a steal against him to top it all off.

Baseball runs in Francisco's veins, as his dad is long-time MLB catcher Tony Pena, who played 18 seasons in the majors from 1980-97, mostly with the Pirates and Red Sox. In a cool twist to this story, his dad is currently the first base coach for the Yankees, who arrived in town last night ahead of their three game series with the Orioles this weekend, so father and son will likely take the same field at some point this weekend.

Good luck Francisco, keep up the great work as an Oriole! Although I don't expect you to hit a homer every game!