2017 Spring Training TTMs Batch #1

So I sent out my first batch of Spring Training TTMs yesterday. For this batch I sent a total of 20 requests. 13 to Oakland Athletics, 2 to Houston Astros, 2 to Philadelphia Phillies, 1 to San Diego Padres, 1 to Minnesota Twins and 1 to Atlanta Braves. Quite a few of these players have a good track record for responses. A couple have no track record, so who knows if they’ll sign. Unlike last year, I’m not sending out a super long shot, like Mark McGwire. I took a chance and it didn’t work, but I only lost 1 card that I have a lot of so it’s not really a loss.

Here’s the breakdown:

Oakland Athletics
Sean Doolittle
Kendall Graveman
Jesse Hahn
Liam Hendriks
Ryan Dull
Jharel Cotton
Sean Manaea
Marcus Semien
Jaycob Brugman
Mark Canha
Jake Smolinski
Bruce Maxwell
Ryon Healy

Houston Astros
A.J. Reed
Kyle Tucker

Philadelphia Phillies
Pat Neshek
Matt Stairs

San Diego Padres
Travis Jankowski

Minnesota Twins
Hector Santiago

Atlanta Braves
Sean Newcomb

Sean Doolittle and Marcus Semien are very good at signing. I have received successes from Doolittle in 2014, 2015 and 2016. Semien in 2015 and 2016. 6 of the others on the list I have received successes from in the past. I hope to get a better success rate than what I had last year. 50 percent is a great return rate from active players, but I always hope for better.

Right now, I am planning a second Spring Training batch. I’m not sure how many I’ll send with this one. I’m always open to suggestions. So, if you know of some players with good track records, please comment below. I’m especially interested in guys who were in either the 2016 Topps Pro Debut or 2017 Topps, but I’m not limited to those.

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2016 Spring Training TTM Returns

With the 2017 Spring Training getting under way (combined with my absence from this blog), I thought it would be a good time to recap my 2016 Spring Training TTM successes. Last year I sent 2 batches of TTMs to Spring Training camps. The first was on February 16th and included the following players:

Mark McGwire
Sean Doolittle
Stephen Vogt
Billy Burns
Mark Canha
Jed Lowrie
Renato Nunez
Kendall Graveman
Daniel Robertson
R.J. Alvarez
Jesse Hahn

The second batch was mailed on March 1st and included the following players:

Marcus Semien
Jesse Chavez
A.J. Reed
Eric Sogard
Joe Wendle
Chris Bassitt
Max Muncy
Ron Washington
Juan Samuel

In total I sent out 20 requests. To date, I have received back 10 successes. A 50% success rate. Not quite what I hoped. Here is the list again with the date I have received the success.

Mark McGwire (long shot, I know)
Sean Doolittle – March 7, 2016
Stephen Vogt
Billy Burns
Mark Canha – March 1, 2016
Jed Lowrie
Renato Nunez
Kendall Graveman
Daniel Robertson
R.J. Alvarez – March 18, 2016
Jesse Hahn – April 1, 2016
Marcus Semien – March 10, 2016
Jesse Chavez
A.J. Reed – April 4, 2016
Eric Sogard
Joe Wendle – June 24, 2016
Chris Bassitt – March 25, 2016
Max Muncy – March 10, 2016
Ron Washington
Juan Samuel – March 10, 2016

I will update this list should I receive any more returns.

In spite of only a 50% return rate (so far) I still plan to send out a bunch of Spring Training TTMs this year. I currently have a batch of 20 ready to go. This batch contains 13 A’s players, 2 Phillies, 2 Astros, 1 Padres, 1 Twins, 1 Braves, but those details are for another post.

Spring Training TTM Batch No. 1 Ready

It’s that time of the year. Pitchers and Catchers start reporting this week and soon Spring Training will be in full swing. It is also the time where I send a couple of TTM batches to current Major and Minor Leaguers in hopes of getting their autographs on some cards.

This year my first batch is almost exclusively Oakland Athletics. Honestly this is no different than in years past. There is only one non-Athletics player and that is Daniel Robertson of the Tampa Bay Rays. As many know he was drafted by and played for the Athletics’ minor league system until he was traded prior to the 2015 season.

In the first batch there are 11 players/coaches that I am sending requests to. Usually my batches are in groups of 10, but I had a couple of extra stamps so I decided to add one more. 4 of these players are ones I have received TTM successes from in the past. 7 I have not sent to before. 1 of those 7 can be classified as “Why not? What’s the worst that could happen?” (i.e. Long Shot)

Here is the list of players in the first batch:

Sean Doolittle*
Stephen Vogt*
Billy Burns*
Mark Canha
Jed Lowrie*
Renato Nunez
Kendall Graveman
Daniel Robertson
R.J. Alvarez
Jesse Hahn

The Long Shot:
Mark McGwire

From time to time I see successes from Mark McGwire so I figured why not? What’s the worst that is going to happen? I lose 1 card. The potential reward far out weighs the risk.

*Received prior successes.

Billy Burns to Get 1st MLB Start Against Astros

In the series finale versus the Houston Astros, the Oakland Athletics will start rookie Billy Burns in center field. With Coco Criso still out with a neck strain Bob Melvin has said that Billy will start against left handed pitchers. Billy will be starting and leading off against the Astros LHP Dallas Keuchel.

Billy was called up from AA Midland RockHounds on Monday after the Athletics had to place Craig Gentry on the 15 day DL with a broken hand. He has played in both games of the series. He pinch hit on Monday night (o-1) and was a defensive replacement in Tuesday’s comeback win. This will be Billy’s first start.

Billy was acquired by the Athletics in the trade that sent reliever Jerry Blevins to the Washington Nationals. The Athletics took a long look at Billy during Spring Training. He played in 26 games and hit .306 (22 for 72) with 8 walks and 10 stolen bases. For the RockHounds Billy was batting .250 (91 for 364) with 44 walks and 51 stolen bases. In 2013 with the Potomac Nationals, Billy hit .315 (170 for 444) with 72 walks and 74 stolen bases.

Player Profile: Seth Frankoff

Seth Frankoff, relief pitcher
Sacramento River Cats

2014 Stats (through 7/15)
2-2, 4.31 ERA, 15 saves, 31 games, 39.2 IP, 50 strikeouts

Seth Frankoff was drafted by the Oakland Athletics in the 27th round of the 2010 June Draft. Since that time he has been making a slow, but steady climb through the Athletics’s farm system.

Seth began the 2014 season with the Midland RockHounds (AA). A couple of weeks into the season he established himself as the closer of the staff. Seth notched 15 saves in 27 games en route to a Texas League All-Star selection. In his All-Star appearance Seth pitched a scoreless 8th innings striking out one batter.

His success in the closer’s role during the first half of the season for the RockHounds, earned Seth a promotion to the Sacramento River Cats (AAA).

Since his promotion he has pitched in 4 games for the River Cats. He has struggled posting a 15.00 ERA in 6 innings. However if history is any indication, we will see Seth’s ERA drop over his next few outings.

During the 2014 Spring Training, Seth made one appearance with the Oakland Athletics. That came on March 6th where Seth pitched 1 inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks. He gave up 1 hit, struck out 1 batter and earned the win.

After the 2013 season, Seth was selected to pitch in the Arizona Fall League for the Mesa Solar Sox. In 12 games he posted a 1.42 ERA with 3 walks and 15 strikeouts.

2013 was a breakout season for Seth as he spent the entire year with the Stockton Ports (A Advanced). In 48 games he posted a 2.78 ERA with a record of 2-0 in 48 games. In 74.1 innings for the Ports, Seth struck out a career high 93 batters.

In 2012 Seth pitched the entire season with the Burlington Bees. This was where he made the conversion from being a starting pitcher to a relief pitcher. It was in this transition where Seth really found his place on the pitching staff. That season Seth started in 9 games and was 1-3 with a 9.17 ERA. After the transition he pitched in 27 games posting a 4-4 record. What was significant was that his ERA for the rest of the season was 2.51, giving him a 4.83 ERA on the season.

Seth’s first full season in profession baseball was 2011. He started the season with the Burlington Bees (A Full Season). He pitched in 5 games tallied a record of 0-1 with a 11.25 ERA. He came back in June with the Vermont Lake Monsters (A Short-Season). In 14 starts he was 6-3 with a 2.34 ERA and struck out 63 in 73 innings. Seth pitched 2 complete games that season both against the Connecticut Tigers. One was on June 23rd where he gave up only 1 run notching his first victory of the season. The other was a shutout that came on August 26th.

Seth earned the New York-Penn League Pitcher of the Week honors for 2 consecutive weeks on August 29 and September 6, 2011.

Addison Russell to Miss At Least One Month

Oakland Athletics’s Top Prospect Addison Russell will miss at least one month due to a grade 3 strain (tear) of the right hamstring. The current injury is believed to be higher up on the leg than the injury that hampered his Spring. Addison came out of Friday’s game with the Midland RockHounds because of a cramp like pain.

Prior to coming out of the game Addison was 5-7, 1 HR and 2 RBIs with the RockHounds. This Spring Addison was 7-25 in 12 games with the major league camp.

The Athletics will take every precaution necessary with Addison as he figures to be the replacement for Jed Lowrie as early as next season. Having watched Addison play most of the season in 2013 I can say he will bounce back. However, don’t expect him to come back early, hamstring injuries have a tendency to linger.

TTM Success 03/17/2014: A.J. Griffin

A few weeks ago I received another Spring Training TTM success from Oakland Athletics starting pitcher A.J. Griffin. In his first full season A.J. was 13-10 with a 3.83 ERA. He accumulated 171 strikeouts in 200 innings pitched. He is currently on the DL and is on track to come back sometime in April.

A.J. signed 2 cards for me: 2013 Topps and 2012 Bowman Draft.

TTM Autographs of A.J. Griffin

TTM Autographs of A.J. Griffin

Spring Training Prospect Update 03/26/2014

With the Cactus League wrapping up today I thought I would wait until this time to do the final update for Oakland Athletics Prospects. The Athletics finish with a Cactus League record of 13-13-5. While there are some prospects who will be travelling to the Bay Area to play in the Bay Bridge Series, this will essentially be the final Spring Training Update.

Position Players
Anthony Aliotti, 1st base: 1-6, 1 2B, 1 RBI in 6 games
Billy Burns, outfield: 22-71, 12 runs scored, 10 stolen bases in 25 games
Chris Giminez, catcher: 8-33, 3 2B, 3 RBI in 25 games
Jose Martinez, 2nd base: 6-27, 3 RBI, 3 runs scored in 19 games
Bruce Maxwell, catcher: 1-4, 1 2B in 4 games
Billy McKinney, outfield: 5-13, 1 2B, 2 RBI in 12 games
Luke Montz, catcher: 7-24, 2 HR, 5 RBI in 13 games
Max Muncy, 1st base: 1-1, 1 run scored, 1 RBI in 1 game
Ryan Ortiz: 1-3 in 4 games
Shane Peterson, outfield/1st base: 2-12, 4 walks, 1 RBI in 10 games
Daniel Robertson, shortstop: 5-23, 1 RBI in 17 games
Addison Russell, shortstop: 7-25, 2 2B, 3 RBI, 1 stolen base in 12 games
Michael Taylor, outfield: 17-62, 5 2B, 3 HR, 10 RBIs in 26 games

Pitchers
Raul Alcantara: 4 IP, 2 SO
Ryan Dull: 27.00 ERA, 5 ER, 1.2 IP, 2 SO
Seth Frankoff: 1 IP, 1 SO
Arnold Leon: 2.13 ERA, 12.2 IP, 11 SO
Sean Murphy: 4.1IP, 2 SO
Zach Neal: 1 W, 3.2 IP, 6 SO
Drew Pomeranz: 1-1, 3.27 ERA, 11 IP, 18 SO
Nolan Sanburn: 16.20 ERA 1.2IP, 1 SO
Paul Smyth: 3 IP, 3.00 ERA, 1 SO
Jeff Urlaub: 1-1, 8.10 ERA, 3.1 IP
Michael Ynoa: 3 IP,9.00 ERA, 3 SO

TTM Success 03/11/2014: Jed Lowrie

On Tuesday March 11th, I received my 7th overall TTM success from Spring Training. I received signed cards from Oakland Athletics shortstop Jed Lowrie. This success came from the second batch I sent out.

Jed really came into his own during the 2013 season. He was originally acquired from the Houston Astros to be a backup to Hiroyuki Nakajima, a Japanese shortstop the Athletics signed between the 2012 and 2013 seasons. However an injury to Nakajima at the end of Spring Training opened the door for Lowrie and he took full advantage of it. Jed batted .290 with 45 doubles, 15 home runs and 75 RBIs in 154 games. The only player on Oakland’s roster to play in more games was third baseman Josh Donaldson who played in 158 games.

Jed Lowrie signed 2 2013 Topps Update cards for me. He also included a business card promoting his photography website: www.JL4photography.com

TTM Autographs of Jed Lowrie

TTM Autographs of Jed Lowrie

Addison Russell out with Hamstring Injury

Top prospect Addison Russell has been sidelined with a hamstring injury. He is projected to be out for at least a week. Addison suffered the injury as he was running out a double in the Top of the 8th inning of Monday’s Spring Training game against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Addison is the 12th ranked prospect by MLB.com and was batting .280 this spring with 3 extra base hits before sustaining the injury. In the interim, Hiroyuki Nakajima has been brought over from the minor league camp to fill in for Addison.

Addison is a key component of the Oakland Athletics’s future and they will be cautious about giving him enough time to recover. After a successful 1st full season with the Stockton Ports in 2013, he will likely start with the Midland RockHounds in 2014. Barring any injuries to any of Oakland’s shortstops, we will see Addison in Oakland towards the end of the 2015 season.