Thursday, June 7, 2012

On the signing front-May + edition

We hit the signing front for May along with a cameo appearance from the month of June....

First,sorry to anyone trying to contact me via email today.Gmail has having issues,which seem to finally be fixed. I will be getting back to all of you ASAP....

A short trip to the mailbox,which is usually thin pickings this time of year as the time that is spent on the mail portion of the show is spent on in person stuff,so these are usually people that were a little slower than most..

Former Giants and Cubs outfielder Gary Matthews Sr.
Former Cubs shortstop Don Kessinger

Larry Mize
Miller Barber

Former Lions defensive lineman and Webster star Alex Karras
Former Saints quarterback Bobby Scott
Former Bears and Buccaneers quarterback Gary Huff
Former Seahawks linebacker Ken Geddes
Former Packers defensive end and hall of famer Willie Davis
Former Chiefs quarterback Steve Fuller
Former Broncos safety Steve Foley
Former Vikings kicker Fred Cox

The Wilmington Blue Rocks hit Frederick for their first visit and the Blue Rocks had a few prospects,mostly notably Brett Eibner,Cheslor Cuthbert and Brian Fletcher,who in the case of Fletcher I missed,but the star of the show was a player that spent three years at Low A battling injuries.
Sam Runion was a pitcher with tons of cards in 2009-10 and finally reached the Carolina League.
It seems like most of the graphers present had massive numbers of cards and could not wait to fill spots in their collections.
Runion was super nice,signed everything for everyone,which was considerable and chatted a bit.
I do not know if Sam Runion will ever make the big leagues,but as a person and signer-he deserves it....

The Dylan Bundy show hit Hagerstown with the Delmarva Shorebirds and seemingly every grapher in the area and some outside of it showed up in the Hub City.
Bundy was a solid two per person signer and was nice about it.
Bundy figured out how to avoid the graphers on his charting days by leaving the outside door of the clubhouse,walking into the Muni parking lot and coming through the front gate.
I was able to get a card signed for my friend Corey in Tennesse (more from him soon) for his collection as I was leaving the Muni to go home and watch the Devils and ran right into Dylan,who graciously signed the card.
Bundy was promoted to Frederick after his Hagerstown performance and I saw his Frederick debut in person.
I have yet to try to get Dylan in Frederick yet since I have already gotten him on the two cards that I had at the time,although I am sure I will need him in the Delmarva and Frederick team sets along with his likely inclusion in the SAL and maybe Carolina top prospects.
The sad news is that he is reported to be down to one per now..
I did not need a ton of the Shorebirds except for the mainstream cards sine Aberdeen had been knocked out last year by the "SuperFan" for me.
Nicky Delmonico was super great,signed all for everyone every night as was Mychal Givens,who has always been great when I have seen him in the past.
I also talked to Nicky about his dad,the former head coach at Tennessee,who he told me was interviewing at West Virginia for their head coaching position.
With WVU going to the Big 12,one of the top baseball conferences,they will need to upgrade their program to compete with the bullies in that conference.
Other notable prospects included Jason Esposito,Parker Bridwell,who was annoyed by so many fans  screaming "Dylan" at him and Connor Narron...

I made a road trip with the perpetually people loving Kendall Morris to Altoona to see the Erie SeaWolves. I had next to no cards for Erie,but I went anyway,partially to get what I could signed and partially to keep Kendall company,although mainly because it always is fun to travel with someone that is as much of a people lover as I am!
I was able to get the few cards that I had signed,including a few extras that Kendall had given me.
Biggest catch was prospect catcher Rob Brantly,who signed one,but the best part was finally having the Ray Burris experience.
Keep in mind that Ray Burris has perhaps the worst reputation among signers,mainly because he not only doesn't sign (I'm fine with that,it really is their choice),but lectures you for ten minutes about why he does not sign,which not only does not result in an autograph,but keeps you from getting others because you cannot get away from Burris.
Kendall had said that he was going to ask him to sign and Burris walked by.
Kendall shouted "RAY!" like the old beer commerical "you can call me ray,jay etc",Burris turned looked and kept walking.
It really was too bad,I was hoping to finance my new car with the EBAY sale of that 1983 topps autographed Ray Burris card.....

Frederick hosted the new Carolina Mudcats,which were the old Kinston Indians.
The biggest catches were shortstop Tony Wolters and catcher Jake Lowery along with pitchers Kyle Blair and Jordan Cooper.
This night had a big rainstorm,so the hill at Frederick that leads to the bullpen had tons of slick grass and I was not going to traverse that hill in sandals on wet grass.
Thanks to Justin for getting Cooper for me,Justin is far younger and in better shape than I and he went down and got Cooper with his stuff.
I could keep seeing this conversation with the lovely Cherie-"I just blew out my ACL,but I got my Jordan Cooper cards signed!"
Thanks again Justin....

I had next to nothing for the Greensboro Grasshoppers because short season Jamestown did not have a 2011 set released.
The big catch for me was the Marlins first rounder Jose Fernandez.
I only had one card for Fernandez,who made it clear to all that he was signing two and only two.
Points for signing,not the friendliest player that I ever met,but such it is sometimes...
Josh Hodges was very nice as he signed everything on a day that he was the scheduled starting pitcher.
That rarely happens and Hodges was terrific as was Brent Keys.
Brent told me he did not have time,but would get me between games (DH).
Graphers hear that type of thing all the time and rarely does it come through.
Occasionally,but I bet the ratio is 8 to1 against the player coming back...
As the players left the clubhouse for game two,Brent told the player he was coming out with that he be right with him and came right to me and said "I told you I'd be back".
Thanks,Brent for remembering and I wish more players would 'remember'...

Time to say thanks to my new friend in Tennessee,Corey White for his help with the Southern League.
I met Corey on last years trip to Tennessee,we hit it off and we have been working together to try to help each other out.
Corey helped me with the prospect laden Jackson Generals (Mariners) and the Tennessee Smokies.
Corey has been able to get me two thirds of the Generals stud pitching prospects in Danny Hultzen and Tajuan Walker (I had no cards to send him on the third player James Paxton) along with Rich Poytress,Nick Franklin,Denny Almonte and a card that I thought to be long sent to the dust bin in the 2007 Carolina League top prospect of former Braves farmhand Eric Campbell.
It is always cool to get cards that have been around that long finally finished.
Among the Smokies were Trey McNutt,Logan Watkins (noted for his blowoff of us in Lake County in 2010) and former Hagerstown Suns Michael Burgess,who Corey reports has improved as a signer since his days in the Washington system.
Thanks to Corey for all of his help!!!

Next trip was back to Frederick for the first repeat team of the season in the Salem Red Sox.Winston-Salem actually had repeated earlier,but I did not hit the Dash on that trip in.
The biggest catches were two players that I had gotten in the past,but were very nice in Jackie Bradley Jr and Brandon Jacobs.
I love Bradley's autograph,one of the best around and that comes with zero sarcasm.
I did need Matt Barnes,who I had two of my cards and cards for Corey C.who was out of town.
Barnes pulled a stunt that I had never seen before as he walked around the stadium and came in through the other side to avoid the graphers.
That was a new one in Frederick for me and Barnes went around and then avoided people during and after the game.
Bill Cover and I finally tracked him down in the parking lot on the dead run as in I ran and then felt like I was dead!
I'm too old to run like that!
Kendall Morris filled in a few of the guys I missed (notable being Xander Bogarerts) when he returned the following night for the Red Sox-thanks to Kendall for those.

Bill and I traveled to Harrisburg for the Portland SeaDogs and were rewarded with a rainout!
We did manage to get a few players such as Anthony Ranaudo and Heiker Meneses to somewhat salvage things a bit....

The Kannapolis Intimidators hit Hagerstown to start June.Super strong team with top prospect Rangel Ravelo and former first rounder Keenyn Walker banging out card after card for all of us.
Second rounder Erik Johnson was another nice catch as was catcher Keven Smith,who was slammed into in a vicious home plate collision with the Suns Matt Skole that sent Smith from the game and onto the disabled list.
That led to Kevin Dubler being brought in from AA Birmingham to catch in Smith's spot and I was able to get his card from 2011 signed.
Kannapolis also featured former Oriole pitcher Jose Bautista,who I was able to get to sign a few more of his cards from his Orioles days.

I have been working on my Hagerstown Suns team set and most of the players have been very accomodating thus far.
So far,one was been very elusive,but I'll hang tough and get him!
Notable Suns thus far have been Alex Meyer,Matt Skole and Caleb Ramsey as well as former TCU pitching star Matt Purke,who signed both cards that I had for him.
I also was able to get former Suns first baseman that was rehabbing in Hagerstown Chris Marrero on his 2011 topps debut card.

Whew,this one took a while to type up.
Hope you enjoyed catching up on the month of May and Kannapolis in June..... 

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