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

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Showoff Sunday: California League Coaches – South Division

I’m a couple of days late with this, so we will call this the Wednesday Edition of Showoff Sunday. This week I will continue with the autograph collection I have amassed this season of the coaches in the California League. The focus of this post will be on the coaches in the South Division.

The teams in the South Division include Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, Inland Empire 66ers, Lancaster JetHawks, High Desert Mavericks and the Lake Elsinore Storm. At this point in the season only the Quakes, Mavericks and Storm have made the trip up north to Stockton.

During the first weekend of May, the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes made their one and only trip to Stockton. On the coaching staff is former MLB pitcher Matt Herges. He has been the pitching coach with the Quakes for a couple of years now. I have already had a few cards signed by Matt, so this year I only found one card of his that I did not have autographed.

Matt Herges Autographed Card: 2002 Bowman Chrome

Matt Herges Autographed Card: 2002 Bowman Chrome

From April 25-27th the High Desert Mavericks made their first of 2 trips to Banner Island Ballpark. The coaching staff consists of 2 former Major Leaguers: Max Venable (hitting) and Andrew Lorraine (pitching).

I was able to get these 4 cards signed by Max Venable.

Max Venable Autographed Cards: 1981, 1987 Fleer, 1986, 1987 Topps

Max Venable Autographed Cards: 1981, 1987 Fleer, 1986, 1987 Topps

At the time I only had one card for Andrew Lorraine to sign. I will be better prepared when the Mavericks come back to town this coming weekend.

Andrew Lorraine Autographed Card: 1996 Upper Deck Collector's Choice

Andrew Lorraine Autographed Card: 1996 Upper Deck Collector’s Choice

The other South Division team that has made the trip to Stockton is the Lake Elsinore Storm. The Storm made their annual pilgrimage to Banner Island Ballpark from April 21-24. To me the Storm has 2 of the bigger names in the California League coaching staff: Jamie Quirk (manager) and Jody Davis (hitting coach).

I was able to get 6 cards (5 Chicago Cubs and 1 Atlanta Braves) signed by Jody Davis.

Jody Davis Autographed Cards: 1982, 1986, 1987, 1990 Fleer, 1988 Topps, 1988 Score

Jody Davis Autographed Cards: 1982, 1986, 1987, 1990 Fleer, 1988 Topps, 1988 Score

I was also lucky enough to get 6 cards (3 Kansas City Royals and 3 Oakland Athletics) signed by Jamie Quirk.

Jamie Quirk Autographed Cards: 1981, 1987 Fleer, 1988 Topps, 1990, 1992 Mother's Cookies, 1991 Donruss

Jamie Quirk Autographed Cards: 1981, 1987 Fleer, 1988 Topps, 1990, 1992 Mother’s Cookies, 1991 Donruss

I will be posting updates as the 66ers and JetHawks come to town for the first time and the Mavericks come back to Stockton.

I will also be posting an update (really soon) on the California League North coaches as I have added more cards to that autograph collection.

Showoff Sunday: California League Coaches – North Division

In this edition of Showoff Sunday I will be displaying autographed cards of former Major League Players turned California League Coaches. At this time there are 15 coaches in the California League who have had Major League experience. The range of experience is anywhere from 1 or 2 seasons to more than 10 years.

For this post I will focus on the North Division of the California League which includes the Stockton Ports, Modesto Nuts, San Jose Giants, Visalia Rawhide and the Bakersfield Blaze. I will begin with the coaching staff of the Stockton Ports. Manager Ryan Christenson played with 4 teams including the Oakland Athletics and the Texas Rangers. I have had 12 cards singed by Ryan so far this season.

Ryan Christenson Autographed Cards Pic #1

Ryan Christenson Autographed Cards Pic #1

Ryan Christenson Autographed Cards Pic #2

Ryan Christenson Autographed Cards Pic #2

Ryan Christenson Autographed Cards Pic #3

Ryan Christenson Autographed Cards Pic #3

The pitching coach for the Stockton Ports is John Wasdin. John has MLB experience with 7 different team, but most notably the Oakland Athletics, Boston Red Sox and Texas Rangers. To date, I have been able to get 6 cards autographed by John this season.

John Wasdin Autographed Cards Pic #1

John Wasdin Autographed Cards Pic #1

John Wasdin Autographed Cards Pic #2

John Wasdin Autographed Cards Pic #2

Next up is the pitching coach for the Visalia Rawhide, Gil Heredia. Gil came up in the San Francisco Giants organization and played with 3 other teams the Texas Rangers, Montreal Expos and Oakland Athletics. I got 3 cards signed by Gil during Visala’s first series in Stockton (April 10-13, 2014).

Gil Heredia Autographed Cards

Gil Heredia Autographed Cards

The last cards I will feature on this post is the current San Jose Giants manager Lenn Sakata. Lenn is best known for his time with the Baltimore Orioles. He also played for the Milwaukee Brewers, New York Yankees and the Oakland Athletics. I got these 3 cards signed during the recent series against the Ports in Stockton (May 13-15, 2014).

Lenn Sakata Autographed Cards

Lenn Sakata Autographed Cards

There are a few other coaches in the Northern Division that I have yet to get autographs from this season. Those former players include Dave Burba (San Francisco Giants, Cleveland Indians), Tom Browning (Cincinnati Reds), Pat Kelly (Toronto Blue Jays) and Robby Hammond (Arizona Diamondbacks).

Next week I will feature the coaches in the California League South Division.