Friday, March 30, 2012

Hope I Catch a Big One

Wish me luck! See you in a few days!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Spring Training Autographs- Non-Prospects

Here are (almost) the rest of the autographs I got on my spring training trip. Most of these guys are off-season minor league free agent signings or from the lower levels of the minor league system. I don't mean any offense by labeling them non-prospects, but I don't think you would find many people that would include them among the organization's top talent. 

Travis is the son of Orioles' pitching coach, Rick Adair. I'm sure that was at least part of the reason he came here this past off-season. 

Thanks for these Aldridge cards, Paul! I especially like your '88 Donruss inspired creation!

Actually- I have heard David Baker's name included in O's top 30 prospects, so maybe he should have been in yesterday's post. Oh well.

The O's signed Josh Banks, who is a local Baltimore guy, about a week before my trip. 

I had purchased this Greg Burke card online and it arrived the day before I left for the trip. I'm glad it did!

My dad and I were standing with another gentlemen who was from Illinois, where Adam apparently had gone to college, and the guy told us a lot about Adam and the Illinois baseball team. He mentioned that the O's made a mistake in letting Kyle Hudson, another Illini Alumni, get away.

I kept just missing Allan as he walked past; it must have happened two or three times. As you fellow graphers know, that can be quite frustrating, but at least I finally got my card signed.

Yoshihiro Doi has one of the more enjoyable names to say that I've ever come across. It just brings a smile to my face to say it. Go ahead, you try. And Yoshihiro was happy to see this old card of his.

FYI-Casey Fossum does NOT look like this anymore. His hair is pretty long and really sticks out around his cap. It was an interesting look, and I barely recognized him.

Chris George was nice enough to sign for me after throwing a quick bullpen session following one of the O's games at Ed Smith Stadium.

Kyle Hoppy, your name makes me think of beer.

Riley Hornback would be a pretty solid name for a dragon, if they existed. Sidenote-my dog's name is Riley.

Antoan Richardson is a pretty intriguing signing, and will provide some improved depth at AAA.

It was hard to recognize Wynston Sawyer since this is the only picture I had of him. Luckily, they have these things called uniform numbers that also help with identifying players.

Scott Thomas seemed pleasantly surprised that I had a card of his, but he didn't know that I come prepared.

Chris Tremblay seemed like a pretty nice guy, and he will likely start the season with Frederick or Bowie. Neither team has a logo nearly as awesome as the Lake Elsinore Storm.

Aaron Wirsch's autograph doesn't consist of much, which is a surprise for such a young player.

Ross Wolf is back in the organization, and he did not seem too excited about signing when I asked. But at least he did it.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Spring Training Autographs- Top Prospects

I promise that I will make it through my Spring Training autographs one day. In fact, I hope to wrap them up tomorrow, but no promises.

Today's autographs are of players who are currently among the organization's top prospects or who have been regarded as a prospect over recent years. If applicable, I will list their current ranking according to Baseball America.

I was very happy to get my first autograph from the Orioles 2011 First Round pick and 2012 top prospect, Dylan Bundy. He was still at the O's big league camp during my trip and I happened to be in the right place at the right time to get his signature.

The Birds' #2 prospect (who was #1 in 2011) is Manny Machado, who also got into some big league Spring Training games. The team seems very high on him, as they likely should be. I was very glad to get  a personalized autograph from him, and his autograph seems like it has improved a bit since the end of last season.

#3 prospect Jonathan Schoop (all the way up from #10 last year) is probably my favorite player in the system right now. He's consistently nice to the fans and I think he has a legitimate chance to really help the Orioles a few years down the road.

Since he has yet to pitch above lo-A Delmarva, I haven't had a chance to see #4 prospect Parker Bridwell pitch yet. But at least I have his autograph.

The Orioles 2nd round pick in the 2011 draft is 3B Jason Esposito, who BA ranks as their #8 prospect. This was my first chance to get his autograph and he seems like a pretty decent guy. He even took his time signing the Topps USA card since he said they often smudge; thanks for the effort Jason!

Dan Klein has some serious potential but has battled injuries throughout his time in the minors. He could very well be the Orioles closer of the future , but only if he can stay healthy. He is the #10 prospect this year, slipping from #5 last season.

Glynn Davis, no not Glenn, is ranked just outside the top ten and is regarded as the fastest player in the O's farm system. 

Ryan Berry was the organization's #9 prospect last year but injuries derailed his season, so he's off the list this year. And somehow I didn't notice that both of these cards used the same picture until i was getting them signed.

Matt Hobgood was the team's 2009 first round pick and #5 prospect in 2010 but has yet to have much success at the professional level. And he won't pitch this year due to some sort of injury. At this point, I'm not expecting much of Matt, it's kind of a Billy Rowell 2.0 situation.

Caleb Joseph was ranked as the #10 prospect in 2010 but seems to have plateaued. He's always been a favorite of mine, but he needs to make the jump to AAA this year to prove himself. 

Kipp Schutz has never been ranked amongst the team's top 10 prospects but he has some major league potential, so I'm including him here.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Thank You for the Trades

I just wanted to say thank you to all of the fellow bloggers and collectors that I've completed trades with over the past month. Since many of the cards sent my way were from my set needs list, I pretty much filed them away before thinking to scan them, so I don't have any pictures to show today. But I want to make sure that all of you know that I appreciate all the great Orioles cards and set needs that have been sent my way.

Off the top of my head, thanks to Greg at Night Owl Cards, Ryan at '"O" No!!! Another Orioles Blog, Zach at Autographed Cards, Paul at Paul's Random Baseball Stuff,  Chris at Nachos Grande,  Ted at Crinkly Wrappers, and Jason at Sorry if I'm forgetting anyone, but thanks again for all the trades!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Chen & Hammel

While I was able to get a boatload of O's autographs on my Spring Training trip earlier this month, there were a few new players who eluded me, including a couple who are very likely to be on the Opening Day roster. 

The two main players I missed out on were Wei-Tin Chen and Jason Hammel, who were the starters of the two games I attended, which likely had something to do with how or why I wasn't able to get their autographs. Luckily, I ran into a fellow SCN grapher in Sarasota who ended up being able to help me out with both of them. Thanks Matt!

I'll start with Chen since I'm pretty sure that this is the first autograph in Kanji (I believe that's the correct term) that I have in my collection. I know that Koji Uehara would occasionally sign in Kanji, but he always signed "Koji" for me.

 Chen's signature is very unique and he will likely be one of the Orioles top pitchers this season, so I'm excited to be in a position to scratch his name off of my need list once he makes his debut.

 The other guy I missed who is a near lock for the Opening Day roster is Jason Hammel, who was acquired from the Rockies, along with Matt Lindstrom, in the Jeremy Guthrie trade. Jason signature is kind of hard to make out, but I think I see a J, an H, and an L in there.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

More Orioles Vladdy Cards

So I kind of figured that Vlad's last Orioles cards would be in 2011 Topps Update since it has been pretty clear since last October that his time in Baltimore was over. But he was included as an O in 2012 Topps Heritage and I saw his name included in the 2012 Allen & Ginter checklist, also presumably as an Oriole, so it looks like I will be pursuing more cards and their seemingly unlimited variations than I had anticipated.

I knew that Gypsy Queen had regular and GQ back minis, and then I came across this sepia toned version too. It's pretty cool and all and is numbered to 99, but it makes me wonder about what other variations might be out there that I have yet to discover.

And here are the platinum refractor and '75 mini variations from Topps Lineage. Considering the number of cards/variations that Vlad had last year, I sure see a lot of the same few pictures. 

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Orioles Spring Training Autographs- Extras For Trade

Many of the Orioles players were kind enough to sign multiple cards for me during my trip to Spring Training and some of the extras are available for trade. Let me know if anyone out there is interested in these bad boys. I'd be happy to swing a deal to help other O's collectors with their collections. 

Friday, March 23, 2012

Unpossible Autograph Friday- Dave Philley

I came across some sad new last weekend when I read that Dave Philley, who had been the oldest living Oriole, passed away. He was 91 years old, and had lived a nice long life, but I never like to hear about a former Oriole's passing. Dave had been nice enough to sign and personalize this Orioles Crown card for me back in 2009 and I had my card back in just one week from when I sent it.

Dave played 18 seasons in the Majors between 1941-1962, and missed almost four complete seasons between 1942-45 due to his military service during WWII. He played for the Orioles in 1955-56 and again in 1960-61; when he made his Orioles debut on July 3, 1955, he was just the 67th player to appear in a game for the O's.

He is best remembered for being a plus defender in the outfield, but it was back in the time before the Gold Glove awards were issued, so he never had the chance to earn any hardware for this fielding prowess. He also became an excellent pinch-hitter later in his career and still holds a few pinch-hitting records. His eight consecutive pinch hits in 1958 is tied for the single season record, and when he began 1959 with a successful pinch hit in his first at-bat, he set the MLB record with 9 consecutive pinch hits, a record that has held up for over 50 years. I also read that his 24 pinch hits and 72 pinch hit at-bats in 1961 are American League single season records, but wasn't able to confirm it.

Now that Dave has passed away, the oldest living Oriole title is passed on to Wally Westlake, who is just slightly older than Eddie Robinson; while both are currently 91 years old, Wally was born slightly over a month before Eddie.

RIP Dave, thanks for taken the time to sign for me (and many others) over the years.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Orioles Spring Training Autographs- GM, Manager, Coaches, Instructors...

I'm continuing to plow through the Spring Training Autographs I got on my trip a couple weeks ago. I'm nearing the end of them, but have a few more long-ish posts before it's all over. Try to stick with me.

My dad and I saw Dan Duquette sitting in the stands at both games we attended and my dad went over and got me his autograph. I don't particularly collect the autographs of GM's but when it's that easy, I can't say no.

Buck signed for the fans after the first game we attended and I happily upgraded his autograph in my collection to include my preferred personalization. 

I also added Rick Peterson's autograph(s) for my coaches collection, although I'm not sure what his exact title is, I know he is working with pitchers on their mechanics. 

Up next are a few current minor league coaches & instructors who have coached at the MLB level at some point over the years.

Don Werner briefly filled in as one of the many bullpen coaches last season. He made a funny comment about the inset photo in this card making it look like he had a mustache, something he claims to have never had in his life. 

Gary Allenson was the third base coach fill-in late in the 2010 season after Juan Samuel left the organization. 

Brian Graham currently runs all of the O's minor league operations. He briefly was a Major League coach during the 2000 season. He made a funny comment about my old school card, and I don't think he sees too many of these anymore. 

Up next are a few former Orioles players who are currently coaches or instructors. Neither seemed to particularly be in the mood to sign but stopped nonetheless. 

 And a few guys who never played for the Orioles...

Ron Johnson is the new Tides manager and looked shocked when I asked him to sign. His cards are few and far between and he seemed genuinely pleased be asked to sign.

I don't know what Jesus's current title is but he's been around the organization for years. Both of these cards are at least five years old.

And, finally, Milt May is some sort of Spring Training instructor at the minor league camp. I saw him there last year but didn't have any of his cards, so I made up for it by getting these three gems signed this time.