A’s Pitching Prospects Start the Season Strong

The first full week of the MiLB season is in the books and the different leagues are handling out the first round of player and pitcher of the week accolades. The Oakland Athletics pitching prospects took home Pitcher of the Week awards in three different leagues.

Coming into the season the A’s had the 7th ranked Top Farm system by MLB Pipeline. The pitching prospects are led by A.J. Puk and Jesus Luzardo. However, Puk went under the knife to have Tommy John Surgery last week and Luzardo has had a very strong showing in his first two starts of the season.

Here is how the A’s prospects fared in the weekly awards (April 5th-15th):

California League, Pitcher of the Week: Parker Dunshee, Stockton Ports. Dunshee had 2 starts and only gave up 3 hits while striking out 14 batters. He won his second start at San Jose on April 12th and has yet to give up a run.

Midwest League, Pitcher of the Week: Bryce Conley, Beloit Snappers. Conley has tossed 10 scoreless and hitless innings to start the 2018 season. Conley tossed the first 6 innings of Beloit’s combined no hitter with Ty Damron and Josh Reagan finishing it off.

Pacific Coast League, Pitcher of the Week: James Naile, Nashville Sounds. Naile went 3-0 and has pitched 17 2/3 scoreless innings in 3 starts to begin the 2018 season. Naile has allowed 15 hits, only 2 walks and stuck out 15 batters.

This is just the tip of the iceberg for Oakland’s pitching prospects. The Stockton Ports starting pitching combined for 39.2 IP, 21 H, 2 ER, 9 BB, 59 K in the first 8 games. Bobby Wahl, Jeremy Bliech and Lou Trivino have each pitched in 3 games out of the bullpen for Nashville and have not given up a run. Jake Sachez, currently with Midland, has not given up a run in 3.1 IP with Midland and Nashville combined.

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Modesto Nuts, 2017 Cal League Champs

As I prepare for my first trip in 2018 to John Thurman Field, home of the Modesto Nuts. I can’t help, but think back to my last trip there in 2017. It was Friday, September 15th, Game 3 of the California League Championship. The Nuts would roll to an 8-1 victory over the Lancaster JetHawks, securing Modesto’s first title since 2004 when they were an affiliate of the Oakland Athletics.

As a life-long baseball fan, there are certain milestone events I have always wanted to witness in person. One of which is a team winning their league championship. I was fortunate enough to be among the 3,329 fans in attendance that night. This win completed the “perfect postseason” where the Modesto Nuts beat the Stockton Ports in the first round 3 games to 0 and the Lancaster JetHawks in the finals 3 games to 0. This was the Nuts first season as a Seattle Mariners affiliate.

Joe Rizzo, who was promoted to Modesto during the final week of the season, was named Cal League Finals MVP after hitting 7 for 13 (.538) with 1 HR and 4 RBI. The then 19-year old was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2016 draft out of Oakton in Vienna, VA. Kyle Lewis also had a strong series batting 6 for 14 (.429) with a 2B, 3B and 2 RBI. Lewis was the Mariners first round draft pick in 2016 out of Mercer College.

After the game I was fortunate enough to get a couple of autographs from the newly crowned champions. First was a Cal League Baseball signed by Kyle Lewis. Lewis was nice enough to inscribe 2017 Champs on the ball.

I was also able to get the Cal League Finals MVP, Joe Rizzo, on a Cal League Ball. Rizzo inscribed Cal League Final MVP on the ball for me.

All-in-all this was a great night to witness history. I am excited to have these 2 pieces of autographed memorabilia to remember that night.

Collecting Goals – March 2018

I have been thinking a lot about my card collection lately. I have a lot of Oakland Athletics cards, it is one of my passions. Recently, a new friend of mine Ben (Twitter @ourtradingcards) sent me a copy of his Oakland A’s master checklist.  Looking through this checklist, I realized that there are a lot of cards I don’t have. There are some sets that I never even knew existed.

I have decided that I am going to set collecting goals for myself each month. I am on a budget and I need to limit and focus my spending. This will help me save money for sets and hobby boxes I really want, like Bowman and Topps Pro Debut, while making progress on my Oakland A’s collection.

Each month, I am going to pick up a few Oakland Athletics Team Sets I do not have. One will be a Vintage set. Vintage I will define as pre-1980s cards. One will be a set from 1980-1999. One will be a set from 2000-2017. The final one(s) will be any team sets from new releases.

Here are the team set I am planning to purchase for March 2018
Vintage: 1954 Bowman
1980-1999: 1988 Mother’s Cookies Oakland Athletics SGA
2000-2017: 2009 Upper Deck
New Releases: 2018 Topps Heritage (02/28), 2018 Donruss (03/07), 2018 Topps Opening Day (03/14)

Note: Topps Gypsy Queen, Inception and Tribute also release in March, but I will likely be saving those sets for pickup in April. March is a release heavy month.

Vintage
I chose the 1954 Bowman as my Vintage set because it is a simple design that I have always liked. There are 14 cards in this team set and I already have 2 in my collection: Bobby Shantz (#19) and Alfred Robertson, Jr (#211)

1980-1999
The Mother’s Cookie Cards are some of my favorite cards. For the most part they have a full-bleed design (no borders), good profile photos and a nice glossy finish. These are typically limited in quantity (approximately 15,000 sets each year) because they were a Stadium Give Away (SGA). I chose the 1988 set because it is one I have been wanting because it was the first year I really followed the A’s. I’ve been a fan since 1985, but didn’t really start following intently until late 1987.

2000-2017
I chose the 2009 Upper Deck because I’m pretty sure my Local Card Shop (LCS) has this team set and I want to support them while picking up something I need.

The sets in these goals will not be all that I buy, but they will be the primary focus of my spending.

Spring Training in Full Swing on Monday

The pitchers and catchers reported this past Wednesday. Position player reported to camp today. The first full-squad workouts begin on Monday. This is an exciting time of the year for sure!

The Oakland Athletics will kick off their 35 game Spring Training Schedule (including split squad games) on Friday in Mesa, AZ against the LA Angels of Anaheim. The Spring schedule will conclude with the annual Bay Bridge Series March 25th-27th. One game in Oakland and two in San Francisco.

Lineup Card: Stockton Ports vs. Modesto Nuts – July 28, 2017

I have always wanted to get a lineup card. I have seen people at Banner Island Ballpark with ones from previous games getting them autographed. I have never been lucky enough to get one from a coach or manager. Towards the end of the season I was at a Modesto Nuts game and in the team store they were selling game-used lineup cards. They were $25 and the proceeds went to the charity fund. I thought it was a decent price, but I didn’t think much about buying one until I noticed one detail: they were autographed by the Nuts players. This was a deal I couldn’t pass up.

I looked through the cards to find ones where they played Stockton. I found a couple and settled on the one from Friday, July 28th. I wasn’t at that game, but it turns out that I was at the game the next day. I went with this card for 2 reasons. The first is that Sheldon Neuse, Oakland’s No. 13 prospect, went 3 for 5 and hit his first 2 home runs in the Athletics organization. Neuse had come over from the Washington Nationals with Blake Treinen and Jesus Luzardo in the Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson trade on July 16th. The other reason is that Seattle’s No. 1 prospect, Kyle Lewis, is on the lineup card (on the bench) and he autographed it.

As you can see, I have since framed the lineup card with some autographed cards of some players on the Ports. I don’t think I am going to get the Ports players to sign the lineup card. At this point it will be too difficult. Many of them will likely not be on the team next year.

 

Vintage Friday: 1933 Goudey – Leroy Mahaffey

Occasionally I will purchase vintage cards. To me, vintage means cards that are pre-1980. Even though cards I bought as a kid are pushing 30 years old, I have a hard time accepting that they are considered “vintage.”

A few months ago, I picked up my oldest baseball card. It is a 1933 Goudey of Leroy Mahaffey, pitcher for the Philadelphia Athletics. This is a genuine card. There are many reprints available for cards from this era, including some really convincing “aged” reprints.


img_4776It is unfortunate that there is a crease across the middle, but cards from this era can be quite expensive in better condition. I knew this going into the purchase and the card was priced accordingly.

Mahaffey pitched for the Philadelphia Athletics from 1930-35. He compiled a 64-43 record with a 4.82 ERA. He also pitched for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1926-27 and the St. Louis Browns in 1936.

One interesting story about Mahaffey involves New York Yankees slugger Babe Ruth. On June 7, 1930 Mahaffey got the start against the Yankees. During the previous six games, Ruth hit eight home runs. On that day Mahaffey struck out Ruth four times. Mahaffey never gave up a home run to the legendary slugger in fourteen appearances against the Yankees.

Reorganizing the Website

Times change. People change. Websites change. I want to keep this website up and running, but I don’t have time to post the type of content that I initially envisioned. So I decided last week to rededicate this website to my baseball card collection and Oakland A’s memorabilia.

I have already started to add pages about sets in progress, including lists of cards I need. I plan on adding more info about my large and still growing autograph collection, as well as pages for players that I have in my personal collection (PC).

I will still occasionally us this as a forum for news and info about the Oakland A’s or their Minor League System, but for now I will be utilizing this site primarily for my collection.

As always if you have any comments please feel free to post them!

MLB Authentic Memorabilia: Jharel Cotton 08/14/2017

I went to an Oakland Athletics game on September 26th and I picked up another MLB Authentic baseball. This time I got a ball from pitcher Jharel Cotton. The game was on August 14, 2017 against the Kansas City Royals.

I chose this ball because Jharel Cotton is one of my top two favorite pitchers on the A’s right now. He was bounced around a little bit this year between AAA Nashville and Oakland. He has started to come around as of late and I think he is going to be a solid starter next year.

This ball had a lot of “life” in it. It comes from the Top of the 6th inning and was used against three different batters. The Authentication details are below.

Cotton JC366237 Details

The first batter was Jorge Bonifacio, who struck out on a 2-2 count. Next was Alcides Escobar who hit an infield single on the second pitch. Finally this ball was popped up to second base by Alex Gordon. Both the single and the pop up was fielded by Chad Pinder. Again there are a lot of details in the Authentication which is one of the things I love about these items.

2017 Donruss Optic Blaster Box Recap

Note: I found this recap in my notebook from a couple of months ago. I was going to post this, but I never got around to it. Normally I would add some photos, but at this time I am only going to post the recap. 

Blaster Configuration:
6 packs per box
5 cards per pack
Pink parallels average 6 per box

Breakdown:
Base cards (1-165): 17 cards, no duplicates = 10.3% complete
Prizm Cards: 4 cards
Pink Parallels: 6 cards

Oakland Athletics card:
Khris Davis – Diamond King

Notable Players:
Aaron Judge – Rated Rookie
Mickey Mantle – Diamond King
Mickey Mantle (base)
Anthony Rizzo
Trevor Story
Bryce Harper – Pink Parallel

Prizm Cards:
Mike Trout – Diamond King
Josh Bell
Nolan Arenado
Troy Tulowitski

Pink Parallels:
Nolan Arenado – Diamond King
Tyler Glasnow – Rated Rookie
Gavin Cecchini – Rated Rookie
Zack Greinke
Kenta Maeda
Bryce Harper

Insert:
Elite Series: Adrian Beltre

All-in-all this was a fun break. I was disappointed that one pack only had 4 cards in it. Always good to pull an Aaron Judge, which I have since sold. I have always liked Donruss and I like the fact they are doing a Chrome version of their base product.

With that said, I likely would not buy another blaster box at the regular retail price. I don’t feel as you get your money’s worth with this product. However, I think most Chrome product comes across this way to me.

MLB Authentic Memorabilia: Bruce Maxwell 07/14/2017

I have made it a goal for myself to pickup a piece of MLB authentic memorabilia whenever I go to a Major League Baseball game. Ideally, I would like to pick up a ball or something from that particular game that I attended. However, if that does not work out, then it should be something from one of my favorite players.

On September 23rd, I went to an Oakland Athletics game with my Brother and my Nephew. I picked up my first authenticated ball. This ball comes from a game on July 14, 2017. It was a double hit off the bat of Bruce Maxwell against Cleveland Indians pitcher Carlos Carrasco.

Maxwell JC353510 Ball I chose this ball because Bruce Maxwell has always been one of my favorite players. I first met him in 2013 when he was promoted mid-season to the Stockton Ports. He has always been nice to me and my family. When Bruce was in Stockton, he would come out to the field early an talk with us for a few minutes before he had to go stretch. Even now as a Major League player he will still talk to us if we see him at a game. I know Bruce understands that things like this mean a lot to people and that is why he is a fan favorite.

The cool thing about the authentication is that you can go to the MLB Authentication Website and get details of the “life” of the ball. He are the details for this particular ball.

Maxwell JC353510 DetailsThere is a lot of information here such as type of pitch, pitch speed and the count. In this case it even includes the hit launch angle, hit speed, distance and who fielded the ball.

This is the third MLB Authentic item I own. I am really happy to have it in my collection. Tomorrow, I will post the ball I picked up at the A’s game on September 26th. My first two items are a couple of bats thatI picked up at the A’s Fan Fest back in January. I post about those at a later time.