MLB Pitcher Tommy Hanson Passes Away

On Monday, November 9, 2015 Major League pitcher, Tommy Hanson passed away. He was 29. On Sunday Tommy was rushed to the hospital because he was having trouble breathing. He passed away from catastrophic organ failure. The exact reason that led to the failure is unknown at this time.

Tommy pitched for 5 years in the majors. From 2009-12 with the Atlanta Braves and with the LA Angels of Anaheim in 2013. In 121 starts he posted a 49-35 record with a 3.80 ERA.

After being granted free agency by the Angels, Tommy tried to latch on with the Texas Rangers and the Chicago White Sox in 2014, but did not make either club. In May 2015 Tommy signed with the San Francisco Giants. In 15 starts with the San Jose Giants and the Sacramento River Cats, Tommy went 4-6 with a 4.76 ERA.

I was fortunate enough to see Tommy pitch for the San Jose Giants in Stockton back on June 30, 2015. That night he pitched well, striking out 5 in 5 innings. The only blemish was giving up a solo home run to Branden Cogswell.

After he was done pitching Tommy was nice enough to stop on the ramp leading to the clubhouse and sign some autographs for a couple fans. That night he signed the 2 cards I brought with me. Thank you Tommy.

2011 and 2014 Topps cards autographed by Tommy Hanson

2011 and 2014 Topps cards autographed by Tommy Hanson

 

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TTM Success 12/12/2014: Rob Picciolo

Last Friday, I received a TTM success from former Oakland Athletics shortstop Rob Picciolo. Rob played 9 season in the majors with the Athletics, Milwaukee Brewers and California Angels. He was a coach in the San Diego Padres organization from 1990-2005 and with the Angels from 2006-13.

Rob signed 4 cards for me: 1981 Fleer, 1979, 80 & 81 Topps.

TTM Autographs of Rob Picciolo

TTM Autographs of Rob Picciolo

Showoff Sunday: From the California League to the Major League, Part 1

The past 2 Showoff Sunday posts have been about former Major League players who are now coaches in the California League. Today we take the opposite approach and look at players in the California League that have made it to the Major Leagues. This is the first of 2 parts in this series.

I have only been collecting autographs in the California League since 2011 so not may have risen through the ranks. Here are some of the big names that have.

Dan Straily, Oakland Athletics
As many of my readers know, Straily is one of my favorites. I have many fond memories of him as a Stockton Ports. Not only watching him pitch, but being able to talk to him at time before games. Here are a couple of items I had autographed during his time on the Ports.

Dan Straily Autographed Cards

Dan Straily Autographed Cards

Dan Straily Autographed California League Game Used Ball

Dan Straily Autographed California League Game Used Ball

Dan Straily Autographed Ticket Stub

Dan Straily Autographed Ticket Stub

A.J. Griffin, Oakland Athletics
Griffin joined Stockton about 6 weeks into the 2011 season from the Burlington Bees, the Athletics Class A Full season affiliate before they moved to Beloit. He did so well that season he not only was moved up to AA Midland, but he pitched one game for the AAA Sacramento RiverCats.

A.J. Griffin Autographed Card

A.J. Griffin Autographed Card

A.J. Griffin Autographed Ticket Stub

A.J. Griffin Autographed Ticket Stub

Michael Choice, Texas Rangers
It pains me to list Michael Choice as a Texas Ranger. Choice was the 2010 No. 1 Draft Pick of the Oakland Athletics. There were high hopes for Choice to be a big part of Oakland’s future. However, a glut of outfielders and specific needs forced the Athletics to shop Choice this past off season. Fortunately, Michael Choice did make his Major League debut as an Oakland Athletic.

Michael Choice Autographed Card

Michael Choice Autographed Card

Michael Choice Autographed Ticket Stub

Michael Choice Autographed Ticket Stub

Grant Green, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Green was another No. 1 Draft Pick (2009) that the Athletics sent packing last year. Green was a highly touted prospect who never really settled into a position. His hitting was unquestioned, but the huge question mark was his defense. He didn’t really have a defensive home and that is why Oakland moved him last year.

Grant Green Autographed Card

Grant Green Autographed Card

C.J. Cron, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
I was surprised to find out that C.J. Cron made his major league debut this season. I had lost tabs on him and then I suddenly saw his name pop up in my Twitter feed. I remember watching him play for the Inland Empire 66ers in 2012, he was a legitimate threat back then. I was able to get these 3 cards signed by Cron.

C.J. Cron Autographed Cards

C.J. Cron Autographed Cards

TTM Success 03/07/2014: 3 more from Spring Training

The day after receiving 3 success from Spring Training TTMs, I received a total of 4 more successes. 1 was from former Major League pitcher Rick Reuschel and 3 were from the second batch of Spring Training TTMs. The second batch was sent out on February 28th, so these three were a very quick turnaround.

The first was from Oakland Athletics reliever Evan Scribner. Evan was originally drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 28th round of the 2007 June Draft. One of Evan’s early highlight was in the 2012 regular season finale with the Athletics. He pitched 3 scoreless innings in the Division-Clinching win. Evan signed a 2013 Topps card for me. The autograph is really sharp and I like how the uniform number is inside the “S” of his last name.

TTM Autograph of Evan Scribnet

TTM Autograph of Evan Scribner

The next I received was from current Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim pitcher Hector Santiago. Hector was recently acquired by the Angels as a part of a 3 team trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Chicago White Sox. Hector was nice enough to autograph a 2012 Topps Update card.

TTM Autograph from Hector Santiago

TTM Autograph from Hector Santiago

The 3rd Spring Training TTM I received was from Don Baylor. Don is currently the hitting coach for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. He was a 2 time Oakland Athletics, playing for them in 1976 and once again in 1988. Don is one of 2 players to reach the World Series in 3 consecutive years with 3 different teams. 1986 – Boston Red Sox, 1987 – Minnesota Twins, 1988 – Oakland Athletics. Don autographed 3 cards for me: 1987 Fleer, 1988 Topps and 1988 Topps Traded.

TTM Autographs of Don Baylor

TTM Autographs of Don Baylor

Fun Fact: Eric Hinske was the other player to play in 3 consecutive World Series with 3 different teams. 2007 – Boston Red Sox, 2008 – Tampa Bay Rays, 2009 – New York Yankees. Interestingly enough all 3 teams are in the American League East.

 

Spring Training TTMs

Today I mailed my second batch of Spring Training TTMs. This batch consisted of 10 envelopes. Most are to current Oakland Athletics.  Two were sent to former Athletics who are current MLB coaches in other organizations. One was sent to a non-Athletics player. Here are the Spring Training TTMs I have sent out.

Batch #1 – Tuesday, February 18, 2014
Ryan Cook
Sean Doolittle
Tommy Milone
Derek Norris
Jarrod Parker
Eric Sogard

Batch #2 – February 28, 2014
Jesse Chavez
Josh Donaldson
A. J. Griffin
Jed Lowrie
Josh Reddick
Evan Scribner
Dan Straily
Don Baylor, hitting coach for LA Angels of Anaheim
Steve Henderson, hitting coach for Philadelphia Phillies
Hector Santiago, pitcher for LA Angels of Anaheim

I will be posting updates as I receive these cards back. I am considering a third batch of Spring Training TTMs. Not sure for who, but will likely be mostly non-Athletics since I have already sent to most on the Athletics who are confirmed signers. If you have any suggestions please post them in a comment!

A Look Back: 2013 Preseason Top 20 Prospects

With all of these posts about the current Top 20 Prospects in the Oakland Athletics organization, I wanted to look back at the same list only from the 2013 preseason.  We will talk about those who graduated from the list and those who have dropped off.  Here is the Top 20 Prospects list coming into the 2013 Spring Training.

1. Addison Russell
2. Dan Straily
3. Michael Choice
4. Grant Green
5. Matt Olson
6. Sonny Gray
7, Daniel Robertson
8. Renato Nunez
9. Miles Head
10. Nolan Sanburn
11. Raul Alcantara
12. Michael Taylor
13. B.J. Boyd
14. Vicmal De La Cruz
15. Bruce Maxwell
16. Arnold Leon
17. Beau Taylor
18. Drew Granier
19. Blake Hassebrock
20. Jefry Marte

When comparing this list to the current list 7 players have moved off the list.  3 players have graduated from the list and 4 players fell off.

The Graduates (3 players)
Dan Straily – After a strong rookie debut in August and September 2012, Straily was given another opportunity to show he belongs in the majors as a member of the Athletics’s starting staff. Dan made the starting rotation on Opening Day in place of Bartolo Colon who was finishing up a 50 game suspension from the 2012 season.  After Brett Anderson went down with an injury Straily made the case and remained in the starting rotation for the remainder of the season.

Grant Green – Grant was called up right around the 2013 All-Star Break and made his MLB debut with the Oakland Athletics.  His tenure was uneventful and short lived.  At the trade deadline Grant was traded to the Los Angeles Angels for Alberto Callaspo, a move that ultimately helped both clubs.  Grant found his stroke and started to get plenty of playing time proving that he does belong in the Majors.

Sonny Gray – Sonny was called up around the same time as Grant Green and the results were the polar opposite.  He excelled in 2 relief appearances prior to making his 1st MLB start. One of the memorable moments from the 2013 season for Sonny was his 1st Postseason battle vs. Justin Verlander of the Detroit Tigers. Gray matched him pitch for pitch with the Athletics winning the game in walk-off fashion in the 9th inning.

Dropped Off…For Now (4 players)
Michael Taylor – The aging minor league veteran has dropped off the list due to inconsistent results at the Major League level.  Taylor is a proven hitter in the Minors, however that success has yet to translate to the Majors and with the crowded outfield situation in Oakland he may be better suited to hookup with another organization.

Bruce Maxwell – With the trade of Max Stassi in the 2012 off season Bruce became the Athletics’s top catching prospect, and at this point he still is.  Bruce may have dropped off the list, but he did not fall far.  In his 1st full season Bruce batted .275 earning a promotion from Class A to High A ball halfway through the season.  Bruce is not only a force at the plate, but behind the plate as well.  He handles a variety of pitchers very well and is quickly becoming a great game caller.

Beau Taylor – After Bruce Maxwell, Beau was the other catcher on the Top Prospect list.  He excelled in the 2012 season advancing 3 levels, Vermont Lake Monsters to Stockton Ports to Midland RockHounds in a short time.  Beau had a difficult year at the plate hitting only .191 in 76 games.  His defense behind the plate is what keeps him ranked as a Top Prospect, but just not in the Top 20.  With a strong 2014 Beau could return to the Top 20 list.

Jefry Marte – Acquired by the Athletics in December 2012 from the New York Mets, Jefry was quickly labeled as a Top 20 Prospect.  He had a strong showing in 2013 batting .278 with 17 doubles in 66 games for the RockHounds, but with the new Draft Class and stellar performance from some unlikely players, Marte dropped off the Top 20 list.

Oakland Athletics Magic Number: 2

2

With the combination of the Oakland Athletics resounding victory over the Minnesota Twins and the Kansas City Royals narrowly defeating the Texas Rangers, the Magic Number for the Athletics to clinch the AL West Division slides down to 2.

The Athletics will look to wrap up the division this weekend before the home crowd prior to heading out on the road to take on the LA Angels in a 3 game set starting on Monday.

Athletics drop 2 of 3 to Angels, but maintain West lead

The Oakland Athletics dropped the final game of the series on Wednesday afternoon in a frustrating loss the LA Angels.  The Athletics were 2 outs away from securing a 4-2 victory when usually reliable closer Grant Balfour gave up a 2-run home run to Josh Hamilton to tie the game.  The Angels would go on to score 1 run in the top of the 11th inning to take a 5-4 lead, which would hold up to give them the victory.

However, the Athletics maintain their 6.5 game lead over the Texas Rangers.  They received help from the Tampa Bay Rays as the had their own extra inning victory over the Texas Rangers by the score of 4-3.

The Minnesota Twins come into town for the 1st time in 2013 to play a 4 game weekend set starting Thursday.  These are the final 4 regular season games for the Athletics and they still have a chance to clinch the division at home.

Series recap:
Monday, September 16th
LA Angels 12
Oakland Athletics 1
WP: C.J. Wilson (17-6)
LP: Jarrod Parker (11-7)

Tuesday, September 17th
LA Angels 1
Oakland Athletics 2
WP: Grant Balfour (1-3)
LP: Michael Kohn (1-3)

Wednesday, September 18th
LA Angels 5
Oakland Athletics 4
WP: Juan Gutierrez (1-4)
LP: Jesse Chavez 2-4)
SV: Ernesto Frieri (35)

Oakland Athletics Magic Number: 6

6

With the walkoff victory for the Oakland Athletics on Tuesday night the Magic Number falls to 6.  The Athletics look to reduce that number today against the Los Angeles Angels in the finale of the 3 game set.  The Athletics also hope to get help from the Tampa Bay Rays as they play the Texas Rangers tonight in Tampa.