Thursday, April 13, 2017

First Week-On the Signing Front

Wow.Week one of the minor league season is now in the books and I figured I'd make a quick rundown....

Before I begin,I'll be doing another Q and A in the next day or two-drop me questions here,Facebook,Twitter or if we are actual friends- email.
I love the Q and A sessions and I have received some minor league baseball questions,so look for that soon!

I have three podcasts set for the baseball downtime,so the podcast will be back soon with three great guests-two returning and one new!

With all three teams that are close all opening their seasons at home in week one with one or two series,there was plenty to do and see,but the downside was that there will be eight days in between the last game and another game.

Let's start with the local bunch with the Hagerstown Suns.
I only attended one game for each series of the homestand-1 against the Asheville Tourists (Colorado Rockies) and the final game against the Lakewood Blue Claws (Philadelphia Phillies),as to be frank,I had games/teams in other locales that I wanted to do as well.

The chronically understaffed Suns didn't really change much at the Muni,but I didn't see anything to complain about as far as changes go,so things weren't that bad.
The Tourists featured two first round picks in 2015 (Compensation round) third baseman Tyler Nevin (son of former big leaguer and current Giants coach Phil Nevin) and 2016 first rounder (4th overall) fireballer Riley Pint.
I decided to go the Frederick Keys route on the Sunday,which was far more fun due to a great meal with Doug Hopkins afterwards,but in doing I missed seeing Pint,who reportedly was hitting 100 MPH on the radar gun against the Suns.
Earlier in the series,Pint signed all three cards that I had,but Nevin was missed as a grapher with a pile of cards and other items nailed Nevin and left the rest of us grasping for air.
Luckily for me,there was always Derreck Chupak,who in his visit later in the series,helped me with Nevin and was able to get him on all my stuff...
Other interesting additions was 2016 fourth rounder Colton Welker and former Ohio State Buckeye Jacob Bosiokovic,who chatted with me about the Buckeyes...

As noted,I attended just one game against Lakewood and the top overall pick in 2016 Mickey Moniak.
I suspected the Moniak show would attract graphers from the circuit for a crazy environment and I go to games for fun and relaxation-that didn't seem like fun to me.
I passed on Monday in order to do Fightheads and I thought Harrisburg with Bill Cover on Tuesday would be more fun even with a lesser team (Hartford) than battling graphers.
I hit the final game of the series with a grand total of just five cards-1 for the aforementioned Moniak and 4 for a reliever named Harold Arauz,
I had gotten quite a bit of the Blue Claws last year at Williamsport,the short season affiliate of the Phillies and with a few more additions from Doug Hopkins ( I did stuff for him in Harrisburg),I was left with just five cards.
I told Arauz that he was the main player that I needed tonight and he quizzically looked at me and said "Moniak?".
I said I had more for him (Arauz) than anyone and when he signed,my night was just about finished,
I wondered whether it was worth trying to join the crowd for Moniak (the graphing crowd was there for him,the actual crowd-not so much) and decided why not and he was quiet,but efficient and knocked my Bowman's Best card out.
I watched the game and enjoyed the quiet as noted earlier,the undermanned Suns staff wasn't able to do as many of the on-field skits as normal.
I decided to skip the bus crowd and went home as I had to leave for work within the hour.
The Suns early season six o'clock starts allow me to stay a lot more than later in the season when the games start at seven.
I'm planning on a different plan of attack for the hometown team this season.I'm going to try keeping things to just one or maybe two games a series,
I'm hoping that a small reduction in games will allow me to have more fun in Hagerstown...

I spent Sunday with the Frederick Keys and the visiting Carolina Mudcats.
The Mudcats are in their first year with the Milwaukee Brewers,who are new to the local circuit.
As a result,almost all of us have tons of cards for the Mudcats.
Mike Landucci had earlier added Trent Clark on his 2016 top 100 (Clark would be the only top 100 pickup of the opening week) for me,so I was able to add Clark on his Midwest League top prospect card.
I always love doing the league top prospect sets and except for the top 100 sets,those are always my top of the list to have signed.
2014 first rounder Kodi Mederios was very nice in signing a few different cards with the best additions being his 2015 Midwest and 2016 Florida State prospect cards and also nice was former sandwich pick Jacob Gatewood,who signed all 4 cards that I had.
The best get might have been promising hurler Marcos Diplan,who is fast moving up the top prospect charts.
Diplan signed his Midwest prospect card and his Pioneer league All-Star card and stopped to do it-very nice.
After a dinner with Doug Hopkins,I went home to watch the end of the Masters and skipped the Suns.
I always enjoy the Frederick Keys,the graphing access is usually great,the employees almost always friendly (there was one usher a few years ago as the exception) and I usually have a good time there,although I don't get to watch games there as much as I wish that I could.

Tuesday was spent with Bill Cover for the Hartford Yard Goats and we were met there by Fred and Mike Landucci.
I've never had a bad experience in Harrisburg and of the three stops,it's likely my favorite to watch a game in.
The AA game is a better quality game and moves faster as a result.
Harrisburg also has one other factor-my man Nate DeFazio.
Nate is my favorite employee among my minor league stops,always thanks me for coming to Harrisburg,talks for a bit and is pleased to see me (and Derreck when he is able to come),which is a welcome change from another spot-Ha Ha!!!
The Yard Goats weren't loaded with prospects,but a few interesting cards were inserted into the finished collection for mine (and Doug's)
Outfielder Omar Carrizales was extremely nice in signing three cards,starter Ryan Castellani pitched well in his start and signed two cards,before joining what appeared to be his family and former Texas Longhorn Parker French signed five cards (combined between Doug and mine).
I always like my Harrisburg trips and look forward to more as the year goes by.

I now have eight days off and after looking forward to the return of the game for the fall and winter,this break is a little longer than preferred.
Upcoming teams
Delmarva visits Hagerstown (Unsure on this,a very light prospect team,they make several trips to Hagerstown and not a lot of cards combined with other stops)
Salem visits Frederick-Will definitely be doing the Red Sox after missing many of those players at Greenville last year.
Lakewood and Charleston in West Virginia-First long trip of the year sees the Blue Claws again,a early chance to do the West Virginia Power and Blake Rutherford with the Yankee affiliated RiverDogs.
Reading visits Harrisburg-More cards than expected for the Fighting Phils with young outfielder Carlos Tocci and second baseman Scott Kingery.
Kannapolis visits Hagerstown-This one will be a missed series as I'll be in Charleston and Harrisburg before missing a 10;30 am game due to a work meeting.
Doug Hopkins is swapping his Reading cards for me to do as I give him my Kannapolis cards to work on...

Those games will take care of April and set the stage for May....

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