Tuesday, June 13, 2017

A Card From Venezuela

It's now June, Luis Torrens has yet to receive an official baseball card from Topps or Panini or Leaf as a San Diego Padre. At this point he may end up getting a rookie card in Topps Update and that's it :P.

While I don't mind that, the anticipation has me a little antsy. I'm so close to adding a new Torrens card to my Torrenterion Collection after a three year a gap. Make it happen already!

Well actually, it did just happen the other day.

So there's the first Padres-era Torrens card I actually paid money for. I'm hesitant to call this card official because I can't see any MLB licensing info anywhere.

If you're wondering what this card is, it's one of the unofficial cards from Venezuela. If you've ever looked up players from Venezuela, chances are you've seen a few cards made exclusively for them.

And this is how Torrens gets his first 2017 card.

TBH I was a bit hesitant to add this to the Torrenterion collection because the quality of this card is a little below Gavin's awesome customs. But on the other hand this has the novelty of being an exclusive from a foreign country, those are always cool. Now I can say I've had a card shipped to me from Venezuela.

So the wait for Torrens' Topps RC continues, but here was a nice small treat to hold me over in the meantime.

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

Monday, June 12, 2017

Checking In On A Dodgers Prospect

The subject of last year's edition of "Ode To A Dodgers Prospect" was Walker Buehler. Last year's post was fairly simple to make because Buehler was on the DL after getting Tommy John Surgery shortly after being drafted in 2015. The key details to state back then were about his Vanderbilt career and how he was expected to perform once he came back.

Well it's been a year since then and Buehler has indeed come back. I thought it'd be fun to revisit how the Dodgers righty has fared since then. Also I thought it'd be just as fun (or at least neat) to see if the cards I picked up of his for fairly cheap have gone up in price.

So the key change since the last time I talked about Buehler is that he has returned from rehab and has made up for lost time.

He started the 2017 season in extended Spring Training where there was a lot of excitement for the Vandy product's return. In this article by MiLB's Josh Jackson, Buehler stated that his key objective coming into the season was to see how he could beef up his fastball-curveball-changeup combo. Sidenote, he also has a really good slider too (said to be in the 87-91 mph range according to Fangraphs' Eric Longenhagen).

Buehler's fastball post-TJS has been very steady (was in the mid-to-high 90's a lot in Spring Training) and has actually reached 100 mph at times this season, just ask the Tulsa Drillers themselves. That's impressive and a very positive sign as well.

The Dodgers are still very careful with him though. He's yet to pitch more than 100 pitches in a game and has been limited to around 70-80 pitches max per outing. Even with his short pitching leash, he can be downright dominant.

His best performance of the season so far is no doubt his outing on May 17th, Buehler made his second start in double-A (his first start was, okay), and flat out dominated. According to MiLB's Sam Dykstra, he threw 68 pitches (almost nice) and struck out NINE batters in three and two-thirds innings. Imagine how much more of a force he could be when he builds up more body strength and can go on even later in games.

His appearances after that didn't feature nearly as many K's, but he's slowly started being stretched out more from barely four innings to five full innings.

Doing research for this post has brought up a lot of rumors circulating about Buehler possibly being brought up to the big leagues by the end of the season. The Dodgers project to use up all of their starting pitching depth by next Thursday and bringing Buehler up in a relief role to speed up his development (ala Carson Fulmer) is an option.

If Buehler starts in the big leagues, I can see him being on a strict innings limit that forces Roberts to pull him in the midst of the no-no. Stealing Home will angrily drunk tweet about that I'm sure.

Whether or not that happens remains to be seen but with the innings limit the Dodgers have placed on Buehler from the start of the season, there is a window of opportunity to get a cup of coffee in the big leagues this September, then really make a case for himself as a frontline starter next year. He's got the pitches and polish to succeed. The question is his health (remember, he is still a Dodger) and his stamina.

Alright, now for the card centered portion of this post.

So last year I picked up three certified Walker Buehler autographs. Not really as investments, but more like as a long term project to see how prices fluctuate for an elite prospect that's not a Yankee.

Let's start with the standard, the Bowman Chrome autograph. This also happens to be the refractor version BTW. I purchased this for $7 (shipping fees not included) because Buehler hadn't yet returned from Tommy John surgery. What are they going for now?

Well a few months ago they were in the $20-25 range but according to the even more recent eBay listings, they've sold for north of $30. That May 17th performance really boosted the value of these puppies (I assume). Either way, my buy low strategy was a success here. At worst the card is now worth triple what I got it for, and at best it's worth quadruple what I got it for. WIN!

Now here's the other card I picked up last year, this Bowman's Best Walker Buehler autograph (base version). I picked up two for like $7 off of COMC last year (one was shipped off to Night Owl Cards). Making this like $4 (the other one was dinged).

The prices for this one are largely inconsistent. I mean, just look at the last two completed listings there. For the most part the average comes out to anywhere between $4-5. I haven't lost money on this, but no real big gains here except for a few nickels. On the bright side, these are now going for $10+ on COMC, so... yeah. You're welcome Greg.

In retrospect I really should've picked up an unlicensed Panini autograph just to see how the prices on those cards fluctuate too. These two are both licensed Dodgers cards, which has an effect (albeit a small one) on their values.

But these two autographs have presented a very clear conclusion. Chrome is king. Buy Bowman Chrome autographs for cheap, they'll pay off better in the long run if the player has a rebound. And if they rebound on a big market team, $$$!!! Don't bother with the non-Bowman Chrome stuff like Best or Inception or any of that, Chrome is king.

And no, these cards are not for sale. Buehler is one of my favorite prospects. Go away.

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

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

A Miniature To Fill Time

So my post about the Japanese BBM cards from my friend Kimowota is taking a lot longer than I had thought. In the meantime I've prepared this filler post where I just show off my latest Luis Torrens acquisition.

At first glance it looks like your typical 2013 Bowman Chrome purple refractor. But as the title of this post suggests, this is the Bowman Chrome Mini version.


The standard size Bowman Chrome purple refractors were numbered to 199, but these mini purple refractors were numbered to a lot lot less.

They were actually numbered to five. Which is the number of hits Torrens has this year so far.

I managed to get the fifth one of this card in it's print run. Pretty neat.

I have no idea what else I need now (except the superfractor and two of the plates) but I'll worry about that another time. Right now, I'm just glad that I can keep adding more Torrens cards to my collection.

Speaking of Torrens, there's been a lot of developments for him at the big league level since I last blogged about him.

For one thing he's notched a few more career firsts like his first run.

And thanks to me he has a few All Star Game votes now.

Overall his stats are pretty down but that's to be expected. For one thing, Torrens is not ready. There was a reason the Yankees opted not to protect him from the Rule 5, they didn't think anybody was dumb/crazy enough to actually keep him after spring training (they were wrong and right at the same time). For another thing, he's getting sporadic starts in between like 4-5 consecutive Austin Hedges starts. The number one thing Torrens needed this year was consistent playing time. He's not getting it, and how that has an effect on him long term is starting to scare me. This isn't a slight on Hedges, who the Padres are more invested in for a lot of obvious reasons. It's more like me complaining to the void that AJ Preller is a shitty GM. Just watch, he (or whoever comes in to replace him after he gets fired) will mess up the rebuild.

Anyway, there's still some hope that Torrens returns to the Yankees, but the Padres are so bad (they're basically the Angels without Mike Trout) that whether or not he's there wouldn't make the slightest difference. Plus there's that whole "the Padres have his contractual rights" thing and all. Consider this season a write off, I have :P.

But I'm not giving up my supercollection, ever. Because Torrens is still the best, no matter how bad the present may be.

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

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Month-End TTM Roundup: 5/8-6/3

Received On: 05/08/2017

My first returns this month came from Sir Hensley Meulens.
Last time I got a return from Sir Meulens, I wrote about his career from an MLB perspective, this time I thought I'd write about his time in Japan. Starting with how when he first signed up for the Chiba Lotte Marines in 1994, he was the very first foreigner from The Netherlands to play in Japan. Meulens had a pretty okay debut with the Marines and he signed with the Yakult Swallows the next year. With the Swallows, Meulens took a few steps back (he led the league in strikeouts) but he hit a career best 29 home runs and did his part in helping the Swallows to their Central League title and Japan Series title. He stayed with the Swallows for one more season in 1996 then came back to the US. Based on what I was able to find, Meulens was well liked in Japan. Past teammates and staff note how he did his best to learn Japanese and tried speaking Japanese with everybody (at that point Meulens had already learned English, Spanish, German and Dutch/Papiamento so one more language wasn't going to hurt). I also found out that Meulens was bullied a lot by rapist/sexual predator Mel Hall, both in the Yankees org and in Japan (they were teammates on the Marines in 1994), so much so that Hall had to be warned by management to stop being a dipshit.
Anyway, it's always awesome to get back a return from Meulens. His life is amazing and I'm hoping that at some point a big baseball aficionado writes about it and turns it into a book. Then again, it might take a while since his story is still going on, and will keep going on for many more years. May the Meulens story continue forever.

Received On: 05/10/2017

Next up are a couple I deemed long shots from Ben Lively.
Ben Lively was originally drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in the fourth round of the 2013 MLB Player Draft. Lively was later traded to the Philadelphia Phillies in the Marlon Byrd trade. Lively is armed with a low 90's fastball, a slider, changeup and curveball. He projects long term to be a back end of the rotation starter who can eat up a lot of innings. Think Joe Blanton but better. Lively is already up in triple-A and could be up in the big leagues soon, making him one of the first in the Phillies youth movement to rise up through the ranks.

Received On: 05/13/2017

Here's an awesome return from Orioles righty Cody Sedlock.
Cody Sedlock was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in the first round of the 2016 MLB Player Draft. Sedlock is armed with a low 90's fastball, a slider, a curveball and a changeup. His slider is his second best pitch and his development of the curveball and changeup will determine whether he can reach his ceiling as a very serviceable middle of the rotation starter.
This also marks the first time I had a TTM request come back where the player signed his name in Japanese. I usually write the people I'm sending requests to's names in Japanese and Sedlock likely copied that for this lol. Thanks Cody.

Received On: 05/13/2017

My next return is my very first 2017 Bowman TTM, courtesy of Sandy Alcantara.
Sandy Alcantara was signed by the St. Louis Cardinals as a non-drafted free agent in 2013. Alcantara spent two seasons in rookie ball and then made huge strides in 2016 has he played in both single-A and high-A ball. Alcantara is armed with a mid-90's fastball that can reach 100 mph, a changeup and curveball. His ceiling is said to be that of a front of the rotation starter (like a really good number two starter), and as he makes the necessary adjustments to control his offerings, he could be a dominant starter for years going forward. So yeah, just your typical Cardinals prospect. Also, Alcantara is already in double-A this year. He could be in the big leagues as early as next year(!).

Received On: 05/15/2017

Here is a return from Reds outfielder Taylor Trammell.
Taylor Trammell was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in the competitive-balance round (end of the first round) in the 2016 MLB Player Draft. Pretty much every scouting report I've read on him says he's a bonafide five tool player, with his speed being his best tool at the moment. Trammell had a great pro debut last summer, hitting for consistency while also displaying great patience and plate discipline. Trammell is 19 (going to be 20 this September) so the power isn't quite there yet, but when he grows his frame and that power does come in, watch out. The Reds have a unique and exciting prospect on their hands here. Good luck Trammell!

Received On: 05/15/2017

Next up is Yankees prospect Nick Solak.
Nick Solak was drafted by the New York Yankees in the second round of the 2016 MLB Player Draft. The second baseman is quietly having a very nice season in high-A Tampa and is a hidden gem in a farmsystem loaded with elite middle infield talent. By pure talent and good results, Solak has managed to still be on several top Yankees prospects lists (usually in the later half of the top 20). If he were in any other farmsystem, he'd be a top 10 prospect easily, but in the Yankees' loaded one? Unfortunately someone has to take the fall. Whether or not Solak stays with the Yankees after future roster crunches isn't clear, but as of right now it's reasonable to think Solak can be a very solid everyday big leaguer. He'd be a fixture in NL Central lineups for a decade I'll tell you that much.

Received On: 05/16/2017

Here is my very first ex-Dragons TTM return from a gaijin, Jim Barieri!
Jim Barieri was originally signed as an amateur free agent by the Los Angeles Dodgers prior to the 1960 season. After spending a few seasons in the minors Barieri made it to the big leagues in 1966, appearing in 39 total games as an outfielder and pinch hitter. Barbieri stayed in the Dodgers system for three more years after that but he went to go play for the Chunichi Dragons in 1970. With the Dragons his nickname was Babi (which rhymes with papi for the record), he hit nine dingers with the Dragons but announced his retirement before the year had ended. Kinda sad, but I'm still glad to have this return from Barieri all the same. Especially with the inscription I asked of him :).

Received On: 05/16/2017

Next up is a very shiny Aaron Slegers.
Aaron Slegers was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the fifth round of the 2013 MLB Player Draft. Slegers is a very solid right-handed starter for the Twins. With a low-90's fastball and a solid changeup and slider to accompany them, Slegers projects to be a very serviceable back of the rotation starter in the big leagues. He has the stuff to be pretty good for the Twins so hopefully he can also be part of the Twins' youth movement in the upcoming years. Slegers is already in triple-A so he is knocking on the door. Good luck Aaron!
Sidenote, this is the very first black wave cards I've gotten signed.

Received On: 05/18/2017

Here's a return from White Sox righty Dane Dunning.
Dane Dunning was originally drafted by the Washington Nationals in the first round of the 2016 MLB Player Draft. Dunning is armed with a low-90's fastball that can reach 96 mph every now and then, along with a slider and changeup (both of which are work in progress pitches). Dunning went to the Chicago White Sox as part of the haul that Washington gave up to acquire Adam Eaton last winter. Thus far into 2017, Dunning had dominated the competition in single-A well enough that he was brought up to high-A, where he is still going strong. Best of all, now he's working with Zack Collins, the White Sox's top catching prospect. If you're in Winston-Salem, go see the Dash just for them.

Received On: 05/18/2017

Next up is former big leaguer, John Orton.
John Orton was drafted by the California Angels in the first round of the 1987 MLB Player Draft. Primarily a catcher, Orton made it to the big leagues in 1989 and spent parts of five seasons with the Angels. After his playing career ended, Orton went into managing and coaching. Since almost the start of the new millenium, Orton has been with the Chicago White Sox organization in various roles. In the past he was a manager, a roving instructor, and various other jobs. As of 2017 he's a catching coordinator in the system. I assume Zack Collins is a top priority for him.

Received On: 05/22/2017

My very first signed 2017 Bowman Chrome came from another top Cardinals prospect, Harrison Bader.
Bader was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the third round of the 2015 MLB Player Draft. Where he stands in the Cardinals farmsystem varies on who you ask but he's usually in the top 10, maybe even the top 5. Bader projects to be a jack-of-all-trades (master of none) type of player. Basically your quintessential Cardinal. He'll be good and serviceable and Cubs/Brewers/Reds/Pirates fans will all groan at how the Cardinals turned a third rounder into a good player. Interestingly enough, if he makes it to the show, Bader could be Drew's Hot Corner's second (semi-)local guy who made it to the big leagues. And for me too, although I'm a bit more farther out. That should be fun.

Received On: 05/26/2017

Next up is Rockies prospect Garrett Hampson.
Garrett Hampson was drafted by the Colorado Rockies in the third round of the 2016 MLB Player Draft. Hampson is a very capable hitter who hits for contact more than power (although Coors will help with that anyway), and he is also very patient as he can draw walks every now and then. A shortstop/middle infielder, Hampson may be blocked in the future by the likes of Trevor Story and Brendan Rodgers, but Hampson may have the bat and natural skills to make it to the big leagues anyway as a second baseman (or possibly third baseman). Good luck Garrett.

Received On: 06/01/2017

Here is a pleasant surprise return from Rays lefty, Blake Snell.
Blake Snell was drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays in the first round of the 2011 MLB Player Draft. Since then Snell made top prospect rankings in the Rays org for pretty much every year during the next half decade. Armed with a low 90's fastball, a slider and changeup, Snell is expected to be a fixture in the Rays rotation for years to come. He showed glimpses of it last year, but this year he got off to a rough start and has been sent down to triple-A for a much needed tune up. The Rays are historically very good at developing pitchers so it wouldn't surprise me if Snell rebounded and became a nuisance to the Yankees for the better part of the next decade.

Received On: 06/01/2017

Here is Brewers righty, Corbin Burnes.
Corbin Burnes was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in the fourth round of the 2016 MLB Player Draft. Burnes has a low 90's fastball, a slider, a curveball and changeup. The last three are work in progress pitches. Depending on how well he develops his secondary pitches, his future can vary from a very good and serviceable middle of the rotation starter to a really good middle reliever. Either way, I expect him to be in the mix for Brewers pitching depth by this time next year.

Received On: 06/02/2017

Here's a pleasant surprise from Dave Eiland.
Dave Eiland was originally drafted by the New York Yankees in the seventh round of the 1987 MLB Player Draft. Eiland made his MLB debut with the Yankees a year later and went on to have a 10 year career in the big leagues with the Yankees, San Diego Padres and Tampa Bay Rays. After his playing career ended, Eiland went into coaching and was first in the Yankees org as a coach, eventually becoming the big league Yankees' pitching coach in 2008. Eiland was fired a few years later and is now currently in his sixth season of being the Royals' pitching coach. With the Yankees and Royals, Eiland has two World Series rings as a pitching coach.

Received On: 06/02/2017

My last return for this month came from Rays farmhand Ryan Boldt.
Ryan Boldt was drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays in the second round of the 2016 MLB Player Draft. Boldt projects to be a pretty competent center fielder in the future. A standout in high school who would've been drafted in the first round if not for injuries (he opted for college instead), Boldt has the bat to be a pretty good hitter on a future Rays team that (considering they're the Rays) will struggle with offense a lot. Boldt can hit for contact pretty well and as time goes it it's expected that he'll also hit for more power. With Kevin Kiermaier in the way Boldt may end up settling as a fourth or fifth outfielder for the Rays, but they'll make good use of him I'm sure.

And those were my returns this past month. Big thanks to Mr. Meulens, Lively, Sedlock, Alcantara, Trammell, Solak, Barbieri, Slegers, Dunning, Orton, Bader, Hampson, Snell, Burnes, Eiland and Boldt for the awesome returns.

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

Take care.

2017 TTM Count: 79


Friday, June 2, 2017

A Japanese Trade In 2017 Part 1: The Fab Five

Every year I do at least one international trade with a collector outside of the continental US. It's a great way to get a hold of some cards that are exclusive to other parts of the world. And in other cases, are great for obtaining objects exclusive to those other parts (like post cards or keychains).

My most recent trade was with a Japanese collector who goes by the name of Kimowota.

Our trade did not revolve around baseball cards. In fact, this was the very first trade I conducted where the focus was on something else.

You guessed it! Yu-Gi-Oh!

Of course there were other things in the package (we'd been working on this trade for weeks) that are more relevant to this blog like 2017 Baseball Magazine cards, but they'll be stashed away for future posts.

For now I just wanted to focus on the key cards that ignited this trade (on my side).

This Magi magi Magician Gal card was exclusively distributed with a magazine in Japan so getting one in Japan was literally my only option. Luckily I had Kimowota step in and come in clutch. Now I can officially devote a page to my Magicial Girl collection.

Up until this point I didn't have one of these cards of the Dark Magician Girl with her original artwork, so I asked Kimowota if they could get me one. They came through again. It didn't scan very well but this card is actually a cool refractor with Egyptian hieroglyphs all over. It's very cool.

Speaking of the Dark Magician Girl, I actually got card sleeves that have her on the back. Hell yeah! Now I can use these to store all of the Magician Girl cards I have. Unfortunately they're too small for any of my Torrens cards :/, oh well.

This is the White Wing Magician, another card exclusive to Japan (at least right now). I'm currently working on a deck focused on Clear Wing Synchro Dragon and this was a key card I needed. Glad I have it now.

This Crystal Wing Synchro Dragon is another key piece for my aforementioned Clear Wing Synchro Dragon deck. This card's American counterpart goes for north of $30 (on average). It's significantly cheaper in Japan so I got lucky with this :).

So those four cards (and sleeves) were the core of this trade. Now for the fun extras and bonuses in parts 2 and 3 (and maybe 4, if I make a part 4). Here's a little sneak peek for those...

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

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Taking A Page Out Of Dime Box Nick's Book

The other day I went to Chameleon Cards & Comics in NYC again. It's a nice little shop if you're feeling like dropping a lot of Benjamin Franklins on box breaks. Most of the time I just go there for supplies and for an hour or so of fun looking through their dime boxes.

You don't have to be Nick The Dime Box King, to appreciate how cool these boxes can be. There's a ton of fun to be had. You can also really understand why Nick has as many mini collections as he does.

Starting us off is one of my favorites from the lot. A Shigetoshi Hasegawa card where he looks like he's having the time of his life with that old Canon (E05 1d?) camera. I really wonder what he's looking at through the lens.

The back is just as fantastic as it features another one of Nick's mini collections, a player autographing something. That's always fun to see.

Here's a fun action shot featuring Maddux covering first in a weird pose. And possibly with a throwback uni (I wouldn't know because I don't know the Cubs' uniforms).

This is Upper Deck so of course the back is great too. This time we have Mad Dog sliding on the base paths.

Get you a man who can juggle baseballs in a suit.

Man, Upper Deck really did deliver with the photographs didn't they. No wonder Nick has a collection devoted to these rare pictures that feature equipment.

Getting a card of a HoFer is good. Getting a miscut card of a HoFer is great.

Mahlon Duckett, never played for any major league baseball team but he was a mainstay in the Negro Leagues in the 40's. Playing for the Newark Eagles and Homestead Grays. He even won rookie of the year honors in 1940. When this card came out, Duckett was working as the Secretary and Treasurer of the Negro League Baseball Players Association, at the age of 87. He unfortunately passed away in 2015, but we have this awesome A&G card to keep his legacy alive.

I'm very sure that this is a throw back. A pretty popular mini collection Nick and various others have had for years now.

This Bellhorn is a rare type of action shot where the runner avoids the tag. How often have you seen that on cardboard? Without sliding at that. It's an under-appreciated type of action shot in my view.

Same goes for the photograph on the back. These "I got it!" shots where the fielder is about to catch the popup is a shot I'd like to see more too. Even if you're Luis Castillo.

There's nothing really too special about this Crow except that the former Central League MVP (he was really good with the Giants during his career) is notable for his performance, and for his brawl with the Dragons' Masami Miyashita.

I remember watching a TV special where they had Cromartie and Miyashita reunite and both apologized for the incident.

Now we're heading a little into my turf, minor league baseball. Featuring future Baltimore Orioles longtime second baseman, Brian Roberts, as well as beleaguered big leaguer Andres Torres. Both are retired now and people who grew up watching baseball in the 2000's should feel old now.

Oh wait nevermind, we're out of my turf again.
I picked these out to make lame jokes about current big leaguers with the same names being traded. Sidenote, McCullers up there is the currently active Lance McCullers' dad.

Of course for 10 cents a pop, you don't pass up opportunities to acquire stuff for your trade partners either. This when Bay was Bae (I'm sorry, I'm trying to delete that, help!).

You thought you were going to get a full post from me without any current prospects? Ha! He's already a top tier prospect in the Jays system and will be a fun one to watch in the upcoming years. Also, this is a very deliberate pick since Vlad Jr. is the son of Vlad Sr. who Nick collects. Will he collect Jr. too?

Finishing off the haul will be my two cards from the 50 cent bin. This is supermodel Nina Agdal. I'm surprised she's not in a swimsuit considering how first pitches in Japan are sometimes thrown by models in swimsuits. I'm even more surprised since this was taken in California.

Here's a fun insert of Keston Hirua, who is draft eligible this year. He projects to go in the later half of the first round at the earliest and is seen as one of the better bats in the draft. He doesn't have a position at the moment due to injuries, but some see him as a potential middle infielder or centerfielder.

And rounding out this post will be the supplies I got, two magnet holders.

That was my little foray into dime boxes. It's always a ton of fun and I can really see why Nick has dedicated his hobby life to it.

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