Sunday, July 31, 2016

Weekend TTM Roundup: 7/25-7/30


Received On: 07/25/2016

My first return this week came from former Dodgers first rounder, Walker Buehler.
Walker Buehler was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the first round of the 2015 MLB Player Draft. I think I've said my piece about Buehler already. He was the Dodgers prospect I wrote an ode to this year. Go read my writeup on him in that post if you're interested.

Received On: 07/27/2016

Next up is former Yankees infielder Pat Kelly.
Pat Kelly was originally drafted by the New York Yankees in the 9th round of the 1988 MLB Player Draft. Kelly was an infielder (primarily a second baseman) who spent the bulk of his nine year MLB career. Kelly made his MLB debut in 1991 and had some good moments with the Yankees. Kelly retired in 2000.

Received On: 07/27/2016

Here is Orioles prospect, Randolph Gassaway.
Randolph Gassaway was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in the 16th round of the 2013 MLB Player Draft. Gassaway is a first baseman/outfielder who has some serious potential with the bat but hasn't quite been healthy enough to put it all together. Yet.

And those were my returns this week. Big thanks to Mr. Buehler, Kelly and Gassaway for the awesome autographs.

And as always thank you (the readers) for stopping by :).

Take care.

2016 TTM Count: 197

Sources:
*http://www.milb.com/player/index.jsp?player_id=621111#/career/R/pitching/2016/ALL
*http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/k/kellypa03.shtml
*http://www.milb.com/player/index.jsp?player_id=641599#/career/R/hitting/2016/ALL
*http://www.milb.com/player/index.jsp?player_id=641599#/career/R/hitting/2016/ALL

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Another International Box Break (BBM Dragons Dash)

I alluded to a trade between my friend Anco and I a while ago. In this trade we decided to send each other sealed boxes again. I sent him a sealed hobby box of 2016 Topps Archives, and I got a sealed box of 2016 BBM Dragons Dash.


Er, pardon me, Dragons Dash Autographed Edition.

Dragons Dash is BBM (Baseball Magazine)'s set for the 2016 Chunichi Dragons. This autographed edition seems to be even more special in that it has a guaranteed autograph (at least one per box) in addition to special designs on the base cards where they're covered in a blue tinted facsimile signature.

Much like the Hiroki Kuroda Homecoming set I traded with Anco-san for last time, the entire base set is already inside and the hit is at the very bottom.

Obviously what I'm aiming for with this break is an Shinnosuke Ogasawara autograph. He's the Dragons' number one prospect and (as of this post) this is the only product where you can find his certified autograph.

I was originally going to go through all 27 base cards but I think I'll cut it short this time. Instead I'll just show the key highlights (i.e. my favorite players, the notable Dragons and the hits). The other cards will probably be showcased at later times for different purposes (I didn't scan them all for nothing ;)).


Card number one is the very player I'm after, Shinnosuke Ogasawara. So already I consider this break a success. I have one more card of his than I did yesterday.

Take a moment here to look at the blue tinted design on the card. The design on the right is obviously the scales of a Dragon. I like it. It looks cool.


This is what the backs look like. The very top of the card features a profile picture and personal information about the guy. The space where it says "ROOKIE" is switched with 2015 (& career total) stats or the word "NEWCOMER" (if they're a foreigner who just came to Japan) on other cards. And at the bottom is a brief description of Ogasawara.

This particular bio basically says that Ogasawara is a rookie who was tested in the Koshien (the National High School Baseball Competition over in Japan which is basically their Superbowl in terms of cultural significance). The lower half of his body is very balanced, his precise left arm allows for him to throw a 150 kilometer per hour fastball. And he's got the strong "no fear" mentality.


Card number two is Shinji Tajima.

The rest of these guys are going to test my knowledge of the Dragons. Because, surprise surprise, I don't really follow the big league Dragons. According to the card Tajima led the Dragons pitchers in games pitched as a middle reliever. Based on what I could find out about him he's a power reliever who can throw 146-to-153 kilometer-per-hour split fastball. In addition he also a slurve and a shuuto in his arsenal. He was selected to the All Star Game back in his rookie year of 2012 and has apparently been picked to go again this year. Congrats on the Dragons' version of Dellin Betances.


Let's move from the NPB's Betances to the NPB's Rivera. Hitoki Iwase is the veteran who even casual baseball fans in Japan know. I assume. I'm just basing that off of how I know him and I wasn't much of a baseball buff in Japan.

The 41 year old Iwase has been a professional lefty reliever/closer for the Dragons since being drafted by them in 1998. Now I mentioned that he's like the Mariano Rivera of the NPB. He's spent his entire 18 year career with the Chunichi Dragons and he currently holds the all time NPB saves record with 402 career saves. Iwase missed the 2015 season with a left elbow injury but he decided to give his career as an active player another go for 2016. Iwase's only appeared in six games this season but hopefully he can keep going and become one of the oldest active players in Japan.


Yudai Ohno is the Dragons' ace (or so I've heard). His straight fastball is said to reach 151 kilometers an hour and is also said to throw a 100 kilometer per hour curveball, forkball, slider, and two seamer. Slowly but surely he's becoming one of the Dragons' dependable starters as he led the league in innings pitched last year. He's currently sidelined with an injury this year but he could make a return soon (based on what I've heard from his hardcore fans). In any case he's a guy who'll have opposing hitters go "Oh no" agin real soon.
BTW, try saying his full name out loud. Oh the vast number of puns he'd generate if he were in the US.


According to a Japanese contact of mine, Takuya Kinoshita here was one of the top five Dragons prospects coming into the 2016 season. According to them Kinoshita is the complete package. A strong and sturdy frame suitable for catching. Offensively he's known for his line drive power which spray the ball all over the outfield (although his line drives apparently go in the gap between center and right field the most). His arm is a cannon and it's been reported that he can throw the ball to second base in 1.8 seconds. With great accuracy too. He'll be a fun one to watch.


Here is one of the two foreigners in this set, Anderson Hernandez.
Hernandez was originally signed out of the D.R. back in 2001 by the Tigers. The biggest asset to his game was speed. But unfortunately he wasn't exactly the type who could steal first. Hernandez went to the Mets in early 2005 and later made his debut after doing fairly well in the minors. The middle infielder then went on to be a journeyman playing for the Nationals, Mets (again), Cleveland, Astros and Pirates. He's been with the Dragons since 2014 and he's doing quite poorly this year. At least he's got a fun jersey number though with the double-zero.


Here's another notable player for the Dragons franchise, Masahiro Araki.
The 38 year old Araki has been with the Chunichi Dragons since being drafted by them as a first rounder back in 1995 out of high school. In the early going Araki was more of a pinch runner type but after he learned how to switch hit he found himself playing a lot more. Especially after he found his power stroke he found his playing time increased nearly tenfold at second. Although he's never hit more than five home runs in a single season, he's amassed over 360 steals and has constantly been a threat at the top of the Dragons order. He's a five time all star.


Here we have the silver parallel (one per box), of Shuhei Takahashi.


These appear to be hand numbered to 60 (limited!) and the fact that I got this means that I need the base version (grr!).

Shuhei Takahashi is a 22 year old shortstop/third baseman for the Dragons. He's been with the Dragons since being drafted by them as a first rounder back in 2011. He's more of a utility guy who hasn't really hit much in the opportunities he's gotten. But he does have raw line drive power, if he can turn that into in-game power that'd be a huge help. Some tweaks and preparations for breaking pitches should help.


Here's the probably last notable name for the Dragons, Masahiko Morino.
Morino was drafted by the Chunichi Dragons in the second round of the 1996 NPB Player Draft. Early on his career he was the infielder who played everywhere (mostly shortstop) but as the years have gone on he's found less playing time at demanding positions like third and short and more time at second and first. At this point Morino is a full-time first baseman and he missed a big chunk of 2015 due to a thumb injury, but he's still got the power. At the very least he's above average offensively this year (despite some contact issues) but considering how he's a 37 year old coming back from an injury, it's interesting to see how much longer his career can last (hopefully a lot longer, he needs to keep driving Araki home).


The last card in the set is former big leaguer Dayan Viciedo.
Viciedo's having a great year in Nagoya this year as the Dragons' everyday cleanup hitter. He leads the team with a 0.229 ISOP (that's a boatload of power), stat courtesy of ProYakyu NullData OkiBaSho. One of the more notable moments (IMO) involving Viciedo is how he forgot his uniform one time and he had to wear the jersey number 103 during a game. Love it.

Alright, now we've reached the end. What's our guaranteed autograph? Is it Ogasawara?


No, it's Tetsuya Tani.


It's numbered 14/30 (super limited!). Tani has been basically a utility guy used all around the infield, although his primary position is at second base.

Well it's not Ogasawara but I think it's rather cool nonetheless. This is the very first BBM autograph I've ever acquired and I find it grand. I'll just have to look for Ogasawara autographs the next time I go to Japan.

Anyway big thanks to Anco-san for this fun break.

Big thanks to ProYakyu NullData OkiBaSho (プロ野球ヌルデータ置き場) for supplying me the latest sabermetrics for the NPB guys too. Seriously, check it out, it's great! Although the site is in Japanese so it might take a good second to navigate it.



I'll close out this post with these two cool rookie cards that Anco-san threw in with the box for me. My Ogasawara PC went up three-fold in one package!


No wait, I'll close my post out with this traditional foldable Japanese hand fan (called a "sensu") Anco-san sent me. Very classy. I tried to return the favor with a picture of a girl in a bikini and a squishy monster pen (not so classy).

Anyway this was my latest box break and international trade.

あんこさんいつも大変ありがとうございます。またいつかトレードをしましょう。

As always thank you for stopping by and take care :).

Monday, July 25, 2016

Bummer In Brooklyn

Yesterday was a pretty hot but also pretty mixed day.

No Ticket Stub, I Misplaced Mine

I went to go see the Staten Island Yankees take on the Brooklyn Cyclones in Brooklyn yesterday. This time with my girlfriend, who wanted to see me be a complete fanboy for once (although my fanboyism was mild at best due to how I only really went after one player for an autograph this time).


My lone autograph was Carlos Vidal.
Vidal was signed by the New York Yankees as an international non-drafted free agent back in 2014. Vidal's an intriguing prospect, he's an outfielder who is very solid both offensively and defensively. Vidal seems to get comparisons to former Yankees outfielder Ramon Flores, and Flores himself was a guy who screamed "fourth outfielder who carves out a ten year career in the NL" so that's good for Vidal. Vidal had been out for this year since May with an unknown injury and was playing with the Staten Island Yankees on a rehab assignment. Although on this particular day he was out of the lineup.

And maybe the game would've been better if he had been playing instead because the game was pretty bad.

This was my girlfriend's first ever baseball game and I was hoping the Yankees and Cyclones could put on a pretty interesting match. Instead we got a really long snooze-fest. By the two hour and thirty minute mark, the game was still in the six inning. As a guy who's seen entire innings end in ten minutes, this is sub-optimal. And it's not like those long innings were occupied with tons of action. It was filled with tons of bad pitches and base runners that almost never came home. Blarg. I was so unamused and worried that my girlfriend was bored to death that we decided to leave early. Especially after seeing Brooklyn establish a comfortable three run lead.

After we left, the Yankees went on to lose 0-3. :P.

I don't mind the Yankees losing part. Truth be told this team isn't very good since the roster shakeups took most of the good players away to Charleston and the replacements are, not great. I'm just bummed I couldn't have picked a better game to introduce my girlfriend to baseball. This game was so boring. It's the kind of bad game that justifies my decision to just leave games early after I've obtained the autographs. I think I'll just stick with movies, museums and plays (we've been wanting to see The Glass Menagerie for a while now actually) in the future for entertainment-centered dates. I hate baseball.

As always thanks for stopping by and take care :).

2016 IP Auto Count: 33

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Weekend TTM Roundup: 07/18-07/23


Received On: 07/18/2016

My first return this week came from my personal pick for the Yankees' sleeper prospect of 2016, Nestor Cortes.
Nestor Cortes was drafted by the New York Yankees in the 36th round of the 2013 MLB Player Draft. He was quietly having a great season last year (albeit in lower level leagues) and this year he's establishing himself as a nice surprise in the Yankees organization. Earning All Star nods in the S.A.L. (class a-ball). As of this writing he has a 0.79 ERA in over 68 innings pitched. That's insane. Some of those innings have come as a starter too. Armed with a fastball, curveball and slider, Cortes uses his pitches to great effect. Also he tends to strikeout more than four times the number of batters he walks. That's key too.
Cortes has been great up until now. It'll be interesting to see where he goes from here.

Received On: 07/18/2016

My next return were these two signed Sega Card Gens of Mike Pelfrey.
Mike Pelfrey was drafted by the New York Mets in the first round (9th overall) of the 2005 MLB Player Draft. Pelfrey zoomed up the Mets organization and made it to the big leagues by 2006. Pelfrey's Mets tenure was full of it's ups and downs, in 2010 he had a career year where he pitched a career high 204 innings pitched and was worth 2.6 fWAR with a 3.82 FIP (stats courtesy of Fangraphs). Not bad at all actually. But in 2012 he required Tommy John surgery and was out for most of the season. Following his Mets tenure he signed with the Minnesota Twins and endured a very rough patch. He signed with the Detroit Tigers in the 2014-15 offseason to a two year deal and could be back on the market this winter.

Received On: 07/18/2016

Next up is Astros righty Cy Sneed.
Cy Sneed was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in the third round of the 2014 MLB Player Draft. Armed with a fastball, slitter, change up and curveball, it remains to be seen whether Sneed can last as a starter in the big leagues but the talent and control is there for a good reliever at the very least. Sneed was traded to the Houston Astros in the Jonathan Villar trade.

Received On: 07/18/2016

Here is D-Backs prospect Tyler Mark.
Tyler Mark was drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the sixth round of the 2015 MLB Player Draft. Mark is armed with a fastball, slider and splitter. The development of that splitter could be the difference in his long term future being a reliever or a starter. The D-Backs are going to try Mark as a starter until he can't anymore, in which case his mid 90's fastball can play well in a relief role.

Received On: 07/18/2016

And here is Rockies prospect Javier Medina.
Javier Medina was drafted by the Colorado Rockies in the third round of the 2015 MLB Player Draft. Medina is noted for his good control on his fastball. He's very raw (he was drafted out of high school) and wasn't even able to pitch a lot prior to the draft due to regulations in his sports program but the Rockies scouts saw enough of his practice sessions to know that they like his potential. Could he be the best pitcher the Rockies have had since Huston Street? Who knows?

Received On: 07/20/2016

Woof! Here's a vintage return from Bobby Shantz.
Bobby Shantz was signed by the Philadelphia Athletics as a free agent back in 1948. For the first eight years of his career he spent it with the A's and the southpaw had himself a good stretch, even so far as winning the MVP award in 1952. The Yankees acquired Shantz in a trade prior to the 1957 season (a move that involved a lot of players). Shantz did fairly well (he earned his third All Star nod in his first year in pinstripes) and he went on to earn a Golden Glove for every year for the rest of his career. In late 1960 Shantz was drafted by the Washington Senators in the expansion draft and traded off to the Pirates two days later. Shantz floated around the big leagues playing for the Colt .45's, Cardinals and Phillies for the rest of his career.
BTW, s/o to The Lost Collector for giving me this Bobby Shantz.

Received On: 07/21/2016

Next up are another pair of assists from The Lost Collector, in the form of two Steve Farrs.
Steve Farr was originally signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates as a non-drafted free agent in 1976. Farr spent nearly six years in the Pirates org before being traded to the Cleveland Indians in 1983. Farr made his MLB debut the following year with the Indians. His rookie season did not go swimmingly and he was released before the 1985 season. He latched onto the Royals not long after and had a six year stretch as a decent reliever. He had a career year in 1990 when he won 13 games and pitched 127 innings pitched, all as a reliever. The Yankees signed him as a free agent the following year and he was... okay. After the Yankees he played for the Indians (again) and Red Sox before retiring.

Received On: 07/21/2016

Here's a rare Pirates return from Buccos prospect Michael Suchy.
Michael Suchy was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the fifth round of the 2014 MLB Player Draft. Suchy projects to be a major league caliber outfielder (at best) who might be more of a fourth outfielder type. He can hit for contact and has raw line drive power, but he does tend to strike out a lot. Defensively he is said to be solid and serviceable in the corner outfield positions but whether or not the bat will justify him being there is a question mark.

Received On: 07/22/2016

Woot! My first 2016 Pro Debut return courtesy of Miguelangel Sierra.
Miguelangel Sierra was signed by the Houston Astros as a non-drafted free agent back in 2014. Sierra is an intriguing shortstop for the Astros. Offensively and defensively, Sierra is solid. In the long term he projects more to be a offensively average, plus defender at shortstop. He doesn't exactly hit for power but if he can improve his contact rate he could be more than just a glove.

And those were my returns this week. Big thanks to Mr. Cortes, Pelfrey, Sneed, Mark, Medina, Shantz, Farr, Suchy and Sierra for the autographs.

And as always thank you (the readers) for stopping by :).

Take care.

2016 TTM Count: 194

Sources:
*http://www.milb.com/player/index.jsp?player_id=641482#/career/R/pitching/2016/ALL
*http://pinstripedprospects.com/yankees-top-prospect-44-nestor-cortes-11531
*http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/p/pelfrmi01.shtml
*http://www.fangraphs.com/statss.aspx?playerid=5203&position=P
*http://www.milb.com/player/index.jsp?player_id=605482#/career/R/pitching/2016/ALL
*http://www.minorleagueball.com/2015/11/20/9752080/astros-trade-jonathan-villar-to-brewers-for-cy-sneed
*http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/v/villajo01.shtml
*http://www.milb.com/player/index.jsp?player_id=664012#/career/R/pitching/2016/ALL
*http://m.mlb.com/prospects/2016?list=ari
*http://www.milb.com/player/index.jsp?player_id=663900#/career/R/pitching/2016/ALL
*http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/s/shantbo01.shtml
*http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/f/farrst01.shtml
*http://www.milb.com/player/index.jsp?player_id=657019#/career/R/hitting/2016/ALL
*http://www.piratesprospects.com/2014/06/fifth-round-pirates-draft-right-fielder-michael-suchy.html
*http://www.fangraphs.com/statss.aspx?playerid=sa829367&position=OF
*http://www.milb.com/player/index.jsp?player_id=658531#/career/R/hitting/2016/ALL
*http://m.mlb.com/prospects/2016?list=hou

Friday, July 22, 2016

Been A While...

Yesterday I went to my first baseball game at Staten Island in nearly two weeks. Woof, guess the drive's not as strong for me this year.


But I still went and I made the most of my time before the game to get autographs.
In recent times the Staten Island Yankees roster has shuffled around so many players that it's been crazy to try and keep up. A lot of players got called up to Charleston after so many Charleston players were called up to Tampa (unfortunately some Tampa guys were released). In this midst of the craziness was some awesomeness and some frustration.


First up is a guy I was really excited to finally get an autograph of. YANCARLOS BAEZ!
Baez was signed by the New York Yankees as a non-drafted free agent back in 2012 (the same class as Luis Torrens and Alexander Palma!). Baez is an intriguing infield prospect who is a switch hitter and line drive power that may or may not increase with time and growth.
I'm really glad I was able to get Baez's autograph on that Prizm Draft card after nearly three years of owning that card after pulling it myself.


Next were a pair of David Sosebees. Sosebee was drafted by the New York Yankees in the 28th round of the 2015 MLB Player Draft. He projects to be a reliever throughout his career as a professional and may be of some use for the Yankees.

The Photograph Used For This Custom Was Taken By Bryan Green of Pinstriped Prospects

Here is the newest catcher to join Staten Island, Jerry Seitz. Seitz was signed by the New York Yankees as a non-drafted free agent and arrived stateside last year. In an org that's trying to see exactly what they have in lower level catchers, it'll be interesting to see how Seitz fares in the mix. Josh Sabo of Pinstriped Prospects picked him as the fourth best catching prospect in the Yankees org this past winter.

The Photograph Used For This Card Was Taken By Robert M. Pimpsner of RMP Media and Pinstriped Prospects

Here is Timmy Robinson. Timmy Robinson was this year's 21st rounder for the Yankees. The center fielder had himself quite a night on this game as he went 3-for-4 with two home runs, five RBI and scored two runs. He was a pretty cool dude actually, he wanted to make sure everybody who was waiting for autographs got his (if they wanted it). And I guess he was rewarded for his generosity.


Next up I got Taylor Widener. Widener was the Yankees' 12th rounder this year. The righty has seen action out of the bullpen this year. Since turning pro he's thrown 12.1 innings pitched with ZERO earned runs and 20 strikeouts. 2.1 of those innings came on this day as well as five of those K's. He's good. He probably won't be in SI for much longer. He also got the win on this day.


Here is Brooks Kriske. Kriske was the Yankees' sixth rounder this year. Armed with a fastball that can reach the mid 90's and some work in progress breaking pitches. Kriske projects to be a major league caliber reliever (at the very least). Maybe even a dominant reliever.


And finally here is Ben Ruta. Ben Ruta actually attended Wagner College which meant that he played a number of games at Staten Island as an amateur. SI Live's Jim Waggoner had a good piece on Ruta's return to the ballpark where he spent a lot of time back in college.


The game itself was pretty good. Although I did leave after the top of the first.

Austin DeCarr was on the mound and starting for the Yankees. For some reason I always seem to see DeCarr starting whenever I go to a game. No complaints because I want to see what DeCarr can do. But it makes me think that no other starters exist at times, lol.

DeCarr when 3.2 innings pitched getting three k's and allowing three runs on six hits. Obviously the Yankees have him on an innings limit after his return from Tommy John surgery.


On this particular day rehabbing outfielder Carlos Vidal was with the SI Yankees. By the time I heard about the news I had already left my house and was headed to SI so I couldn't go home and grab his Pulaski card from last year. ARGH!

I think not signing for me jinxed Vidal since he went 0-for-4 with 3 k's. Oof. Hopefully he'll still be with the team when I see him next and he can sign for me then and have the greatest game of his life ;).

The Yankees managed to defeat the Tri-City Valleycats (the Astros' affiliate) 6-5. Mostly thanks to Robinson's home runs. Staten Island has a comfortable first place lead in the division for now (two games ahead of the Hudson Valley Renegades).

And that was my latest trip to Staten Island. As always thanks for stopping by and take care.

2016 IP Auto Count: 32

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

One Card, And Woof What A Card It Is...

The other day I received two bubble mailers from Bob Walk The Plank. One was filled with Indians cards for my friend Anco-san in Japan. This is like mere days after I had already sent out the package I had been assembling for Anco-san (#irony).

The other was meant for me and only contained one card. In a magnetic case at that. Add that to how this is a Bob Walk The Plank offering and that can only mean that this card must be good.

What could it possibly be? A rare Torrens? A rare Estrada? Turns out, it was even better than I could've hoped it would be...


WOOF! BARK! ARF ARF ARF!

Yes, BWTP sent me an Alex Rodriguez autograph. My first Mariners era autograph of him at that.

Just when I thought I had a decent Pirates filled package for BWTP almost ready for take off, this comes along and throws a monkey wrench in the whole procedure. *fart noise*

No complaints though. Anytime I get an A-Rod to add to my A-Rod collection is great, and A-Rod autographs aren't exactly cheap. Oy vey, how am I supposed to repay BWTP now? Maybe another in-person autograph of a Pirates legend with an inscription for their blog?

Also, shortly after I tweeted that I got this in the mail A-Rod hit a home run (he's getting closer to 700 HRs!). Because he's a God.

Relevant Music Video

Anyway thanks a ton for the A-Rod and Clevelands BWTP. I don't know how to return the favor, but I'll think of something.

As always thanks for stopping by and take care :).

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

TTM Reflections (PT. 1)

Because my TTM and IP autographs skew towards minor leaguers, it's easy for me to lose track of the player's career after I get their autograph. I don't mean to be rude but it happens when you're focusing on hundreds upon hundreds of players at a time. While I keep up with the daily going-ons inside the Yankees organization, I don't really get to do the same with other teams. Even if they're across town.

So today I thought I'd revisit some of my old TTM returns and IP autos from days gone by. More specifically, with the players who were minor leaguers when I sent (and received) these returns, but went on to become major leaguers (or at least made their MLB debut sometime afterwards). Because while it's common knowledge that not everybody makes it to the big leagues, some do.


Let's start with a big one. Can I get a "woof" from all of you Phillies fans?
Yes, there was a point when Franco was gracious enough to sign via TTM, that was back in 2013 when he was in the minor leagues and just starting to really gain attention. Fast forward to 2016, he's a key piece of the Phillies' rebuilding process and pretty much THE reason for Phillies fans to attend games (at least offensively).


Max Kepler is a really notable prospect in that he's one of the few (possibly only) baseball player in the MLB born and raised in Germany. Back in 2009 the Twins signed him to a $800,000 USD signing bonus, the biggest ever given to an international amateur free agent out of Europe (before Italy's Marten Gasparini broke it with his $1.3 million bonus). Since then Kepler has steadily climbed the ranks and prior to the season was seen as a top 100 prospect. Currently he's being yo-yo'd up and down triple-A and the big leagues. He's really good. He demolished the Yankees this year (although that's not saying much).


Yung Joc Pederson, before he had his hot 2015 start that made people call him a Rookie Of The Year candidate and earned him an All Star Game nod before the wheels fell off. Currently he's still a pretty serviceable outfielder. Although he was placed on the 15 Day DL last week.


Jose Berrios man, he's so so good. For the rebuilding Twins Berrios' development is key. And Berrios got his first taste of the big leagues earlier this year. His first four starts were a bit, ick, but that's probably just because of the whole getting used to the big leagues thing. He's still quite young enough to figure things out and turn out just fine. Although he's continuing to show that he has nothing left to prove at triple-A.


This R.J. Alvarez is special in that it was my first ever TTM return back in 2013. Yep, my first one ever. Anyway Alvarez has already been swapped from various teams. In 2013 he's with the Angels, in 2014 he's with the Padres, in 2015 he's with the Athletics, and here in 2016 he's with the Cubs. Still, the righty is still hustling as a reliever and he has the MLB debut (back in 2014) to show that he's at least been able to make it to the top.


Michael Fulmer was once a Mets pitching prospect, now he's a world-beating pitcher for the Detroit Tigers, with a bushy beard too. Fulmer is now the latest poster boy for why teams can get a ton in return at the trade deadline for a rental. Fulmer spent a few years in the Mets org before being traded to Detroit in the Yoenis Cespedes trade last year. For the most part that deal has worked out rather well for both parties. Cespedes got red hot for the Mets and Fulmer is an AL Rookie of the Year candidate this year. Or he would be if the Tigers were actually contenders (because that type of stuff matters apparently).


While the R.J. Alvarez was the first return I ever got, this Tommy Joseph was the first request I ever sent. At the time (2013) Joseph was the key prospect traded to the Phillies in the Hunter Pence trade (the one where Pence became a SanFran Giant). Joseph was seen as a top tier catching prospect who was a bat first, defense is okay catcher. However he kind of fell off due to various issues ranging from offensive struggles to eye issues. However Joseph did make it to the big leagues with the "why the fuck not?" Phillies and did see some success. Although he has been slumping in recent times. Still, this Joseph is special and a call back to the minor league scene in 2013.


Every now and then I tend to allow certain returns to get lost in the mix of really big TTM return sprees. This return from A.J. Reed from about two years ago is one of them. Depending on who you ask, Reed is one of the Astros' top 5 or top 3 prospects. Reed can straight up mash the ball with his plus plus power. He's also an all around good hitter as he can probably hit for contact and he also takes his fair share of walks. Defensively he's a solid first baseman, which isn't too great, but if his bat pans out it won't matter. Anyway, Reed has been in the big leagues for the last few weeks. His numbers at the big league level are kind of meh/bleh, but there's a lot of hope that AJ Reed can be the players the Astros thought Jon Singleton was going to be.


Tony Kemp, a former Vanderbilt outfielder turned Houston Astro.
Kemp climbed the Astros ladder diligently and was rewarded with a big league call up earlier this year. Kemp is a really solid second baseman who has speed, a good bat which hits for contact and takes a lot of walks. Kemp's in a tough spot with Jose Altuve in front of him at second base, but the Astros see the value in a guy like Kemp and have been transitioning him to the outfield.


Currently the Cleveland Indians are abundant with tons of good starting pitching, Danny Salazar here is one of those good starting pitchers.
Salazar's minor league career wasn't exactly the best. The D.R. native signed back in 2006 but his rise was slow. In 2010 he had to undergo Tommy John surgery and that just halted his development even more. However, Salazar managed to come back strong and changes like improving his breaking pitches have turned Salazar into one of the most coveted arms the Indians have. Salazar made it to the big leagues in 2013 and established himself as a bonafide starter in 2015. This year he was selected to his first all star team.


It seems so long ago that Dilson Herrera was a Pirates farmhand.
Herrera hails from Columbia and was a hitting machine in the lower parts of the minors. In 2013 Herrera was traded to the Mets in the Marlon Byrd/John Buck deal. Herrera projects to be a really good hitter for the Mets going forward. Defensively he's got some improvements to make but the potential is there. Herrera made his MLB debut back in 2014 but he's yet to play at the level again this year. He was picked for the Futures Game again this year though.


The most recent MLB call up in my TTM/IP collection to date here's Mets farmhand Seth Lugo.
Seth Lugo is one of the biggest and best draft steals in a while. Lugo was drafted by the New York Mets in the 34th round of the 2011 MLB Player Draft. Despite that he defied the odds and made it to the big leagues this year. This was despite a major surgery that took him out of action for all of 2012 too I might add. With his low-90's fastball, curveball, slider and change up, he became a surprisingly useful starter in the minors and although he's only appeared in relief at the big league level so far, it'll be fun to see how much better the Lugo story goes from here.

And that was my first batch of minor league TTM returns from guys who've actually been able to make it to the big leagues.

As always thanks for stopping by and take care :).