Sunday, July 20, 2014

Where Are They Now? 2011 Pro Debut Part 6

Last year I began a new series of posts giving an update on Cubs prospects that appeared in Pro Debut during its inaugural 2010 season. Three years seemed like a pretty good amount of time to follow up. With the release of the 2014 set, I restarted the series a few Sundays ago with players from 2011.

Previous entries can be seen here:

Part 1 (Hak-Ju Lee and Brandon Guyer) can be seen here.
Part 2 (Reggie Golden and Hunter Ackerman) can be seen here.
Part 3 (Aaron Kurcz and Austin Reed) can be seen here.
Part 4 (Elliot Soto and D.J. LeMahieu) can be seen here.
Part 5 (Dustin Geiger and Dallas Beeler) can be seen here.

Nicholas Struck was drafted by the Cubs in the 39th round of the 2009 draft. In 2010, he played for both the Single A Peoria Chiefs (the team pictured on the card) and had a brief stint with the High A Daytona Cubs.

A hot start in Daytona in 2011 led to two more level changes, first to Double A with the Tennessee Smokies and then up to the Triple A Iowa Cubs. Struck spent the entire 2012 season in Tennessee with a 14-10 record and a 3.18 ERA and was the Cub Minor League Pitcher of the Year.

He started 2013 in Iowa but after going 6-8 with a 6.17 ERA, he finished the year back in Tennessee. Struck was released by the Cubs at the end of Spring Training this year but just a few days later was signed the Los Angeles Dodgers organization. So far this season, he has spent most of the time with their Double A affiliate, the Chattanooga Lookouts compiling a 1-5 record with a 7.29 ERA. He also spent two games with the Triple Albuquerque Isotopes.

Brett Jackson was another player who was in the inaugural 2010 Topps Pro Debut set. You can read my original write up here.

At the end of that post, I speculated Jackson would get a late season call up for 2013. Alas, he did not and the Cubs set a new roster size record regardless. Also as mentioned, he did split the 2013 season between Double and Triple A and rehabbed his injury.

This season, Jackson has spent the entire time in Iowa. In 67 games, he is batting .213 with 5 home runs and 18 RBIs. Not exactly September call up numbers if you ask me, especially with what else the Cubs have waiting in the wings.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

2014 Topps Factory Team Set - Philadelphia Phillies

After two weeks’ worth of All-Star teams, its back to regular team sets.

As a refresher, I started these before Series 2 came out so I’m just comparing Series One and Opening Day to the Factory Team Set (FTS) release.

Today, I have the Philadelphia Phillies. They had 10 cards in Series One, 10 cards in Opening Day and as usual, 17 cards in the FTS. Of the 37 “different” cards, how many were actually different? Let’s take a look.

Of the ten cards in Series One, nine of them showed up in the FTS.

Cole Hamels, Ryan Howard Carlos Ruiz

Domonic Brown, Ben Revere

Jimmy Rollins, Jonathan Papelbon

Cody Asche and John Mayberry were in Series One and the FTS, but left out of Opening Day.

Of the 10 cards from Opening Day, seven had already been used in Series One, and two new ones showed up in the FTS.

Chase Utley, Cliff Lee

With eleven different cards shown so far, that leaves five player cards that were new to the FTS (and presumably Series Two).

Marlon Byrd, Kyle Kendrick

Jonathan Pettibone, Darin Ruf

Freddy Galvis

And of the course, the stadium shot. I have seen more Cubs games at the Phillies’ old ballpark, Veterans Stadium than any other park but I have not yet been to Citizens Bank.

For those keeping count, one card from Series One didn’t make Opening Day or the FTS.

Ethan Martin didn't start the 2014 on the big-league roster so it’s understandable that he didn’t make the other sets.

And one card from Opening Day didn’t appear in Series One or the FTS.

Roy Halladay was granted free agency at the end of October last year and chose to retire in December due to a persistent back injury. He signed a one-day contract to retire with the Blue Jays so it makes sense here too that Halladay wasn’t included in the FTS. I did say that I wasn’t looking at Series Two for these comparisons but in this case, I did. Halladay is included so he gets a proper “sunset” card with complete career stats.

To answer my original question, how many of the 37 “different” Phillies cards were actually different. Seventeen from the FTS, one from Series One and one from Opening Day gives us a total of 19 different players. There a few Topps logo swaps (Lee, Papelbon and Rollins) but otherwise, 19 doesn't make for a real diverse collection.

But on a happier note (maybe) we also have the Phillie Phanatic from Opening Day.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

You're an All-Star, Get Your Game On, Go Play

Just a quick post today.

I need a tie breaker vote over on the "Mets - June 2014" post on my Horizontal Card Challenge blog. The sooner the better, thanks!

And good luck to Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo who are representing the Cubs and the National League tonight in the All-Star game. This is Castro's third selection and Rizzo's first.

If I can get a photo of Jeff Samardzija in his All-Star gear, I might make something up for him too. For those living under a rock, Samardzija made the All-Star team based on his work with the Cubs. But after being traded to the A's right before the break, he is ineligible to play. *Sad trombone*

Monday, July 14, 2014

Mark Prior Monday - 2005 Leaf Century

When I think of Leaf, my first thought is that they were the Donruss version of O-Pee-Chee. Canadian parallels. Sure, it was kind of neat to find a Cubs card every now and then, but I didn't seek them out. Then in 1990, they came out with their own standalone set, powered by a Frank Thomas rookie card, and released sets for a few more years.

Then it goes dark for me as I exited the hobby for a little bit. When I came back, it seemed like Leaf had reinvented themselves as an upscale brand. Or maybe that was just the direction the hobby was headed. Limited serial numbers, relics, boxes that came with memorabilia. No wonder that was a short re-entry into the hobby for me.

As far as I can tell, 2005 was the only year they released Leaf Century. I kind of like it. I usually prefer the home pinstripes but the black and white background with the player kept in color really pops, at least on this Mark Prior card. The postmark down on the bottom with the city and year the club was founded is a nice touch. Inserts for the set include actual postage stamps on the cards with autographs and/or relics.

The hobby boxes had 10 packs with 5 cards in each pack. With perfect collection, it would take at least four boxes to complete the 200-card base set. But I couldn't tell you what that would cost because as of this writing, there aren't any boxes on eBay or Dave and Adam's Card World. I couldn't even find a team set (any team) for sale on eBay, let alone a complete set.

The Cubs were heavily represented in the set, coming in at 12 cards.

18 Moises Alou
21 Sammy Sosa
50 Nomar Garciaparra
108 Andre Dawson
116 Aramis Ramirez
131 Greg Maddux
134 Kerry Wood
146 Matt Clement
160 Derrek Lee
161 Mark Prior
162 Carlos Zambrano
189 Todd Walker

By comparison, the Diamondbacks only had one (Randy Johnson). The Rockies and Tigers only had two and the defending champion Red Sox only had 10.

Aside from the Prior, I surprisingly have no other cards from this set. A hunting I will go.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Where Are They Now? 2011 Pro Debut Part 5

Last year I began a new series of posts giving an update on Cubs prospects that appeared in Pro Debut during its inaugural 2010 season. Three years seemed like a pretty good amount of time to follow up. With the release of the 2014 set, I restarted the series a few Sundays ago with players from 2011.

Previous entries can be seen here:

Part 1 (Hak-Ju Lee and Brandon Guyer) can be seen here.
Part 2 (Reggie Golden and Hunter Ackerman) can be seen here.
Part 3 (Aaron Kurcz and Austin Reed) can be seen here.
Part 4 (Elliot Soto and D.J. LeMahieu) can be seen here.

2011 Topps Pro Debut #321 Dustin Geiger

Dustin Geiger was drafted by the Cubs in the 24th round of the 2010 draft and played in 35 of the AZL Cubs' 55 games in the Arizona League. He played, and continues to play, both corner infield positions. The emphasis seems to have gone from third base to more games at first later in his career.

In 2011, Geiger played for the Single A Peoria Chiefs, was mostly used off the bench and returned to the Arizona League when the season was over. Geiger re-joined the Chiefs in 2012 and split time at third with Wes Darvill.

There was a big jump for Geiger in 2013 as he was the primary first baseman for the Florida State League Champion Daytona Cubs. I don't know how familiar some of you are with minor league playoffs, but the division winner of the first half of the season plays the division winner of the second half and the winner of that plays the winner of the other divisional match up. The Daytona Cubs defeated the first half winners, the Dunedin Blue Jays two games to nothing to advance to the finals against the Charlotte Stone Crabs. The Cubs took the est of five series with their three victories being shutouts.

Geiger has moved up to Double A Tennessee Smokies for 2014 and is the main first baseman again.
2011 Topps Pro Debut #275 Dallas Beeler
I probably should have timed this one better with his MLB debut two weeks ago but I couldn't find the card. I knew I had it but then I remembered it was with my autographed cards and I never got a replacement unsigned copy for my team set.

A big deal was made when Beeler made his debut that he was a 41st round pick. He seemed to have gotten stuck for a few years in Double A Tennessee Smokies before bumping up to Iowa this season.

He has a career minor league record of 17-21 but despite taking the loss in his MLB debut, he had a pretty solid outing. He pitched 6 innings, giving up only four hits and one run.

He got hit a little harder last week (6 hits, 4 runs) when he was recalled again following the Jeff Samardzija/Jason Hammel trade to Oakland but also suffered from another lack of run support. In his two starts, the Cubs have been outscored 7-1.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

2014 Topps Factory Team Set - National League All-Stars

With the All-Star game coming up, I thought I would go ahead and knock out the two All-Star Factory Team Sets from 2014 that supposedly feature 2013 All-Stars. Rather than compare Series One, Opening Day and the team set like I've been doing, I'm going to compare the set to the actual game. I'll go in order of the corresponding position number, starting with the pitchers and end with the outfield DH.

Last week, the American League lineup featured several players who didn't even make the squad. Let's see how the National League stacks up.


The American League set only had three pitchers. The National League matched that, and raised them two. The actual National League All-Star roster featured 15 pitchers, 8 of which were used in the game. Starter Matt Harvey was left out of the set. Clayton Kershaw pitched a perfect third inning. Jose Fernandez struck two in a perfect sixth. Craig Kimbrel gave up three hits and a run in the 8th inning. 

Adam Wainright made the team but did not play, while Stephen Strasburg was not a part of the roster.


The NL roster carried three catchers. Starter Yadier Molina was not featured in the set. Buster Posey replaced Molina in the sixth inning while Brian McCann didn't get into the game.

First Base:

The first NL starter to show up in the set is Joey Votto. He was replaced by Paul Goldschmidt in the 5th inning. Freddie Freeman made the roster and the set but not into the game while Allen Craig made the roster, came on as a pinch hitter in the game but didn't make the set..

Second Base:

Even though the NL had three second baseman on their roster and two that played in the game, none of them made the set. Brandon Phillips was the starter and was relieved by Matt Carpenter. Marco Scutaro made neither the game nor the set.


Troy Tulowitzki got the start at shortstop and was taken out for Jean Segura in the busy 6th inning switches. Hanley Ramirez? Not on the squad at all. Everth Cabrera was the third shortstop on the roster.

Third Base:

David Wright was the starter at third base and was replaced in the 8th by Pedro Alvarez, the only other third baseman on the roster.


From left to right, the starters in the outfield were Carlos Gonzalez, Bryce Harper and Carlos Beltran (who didn't make the set). Andrew McCutchen pinch ran for Beltran in the 4th, took over center field from Bryce Harper, who moved to right field.

Neither Giancarlo Stanton or Ryan Braun were on the roster.

Domonic Brown eventually replaced Car-Go in left field while Carlos Gomez filled in for Harper in right.

Designated Hitter:

Michael Cuddyer was the NL DH but didn't make the cut for the card set. Though listed as a first baseman on the roster, Allen Craig as mentioned earlier pinch hit for Cuddyer.

As with last week, I was not real happy with this set. Two positions completely not represented but four guys who didn't even make the roster? So here are the 17 who I thought should have been used to make this set.


With the American League, it was pretty easy to go with the starter, winner and closer. On the losing side, it was a little tougher to choose. I will go with the starter Matt Harvey, keep Kershaw and Fernandez and ditch the other three. It hurts a little to cut the horizontal Kimbrel card but he didn't have a great outing.


Again, I have to go with the starter here and add Yadier Molina to the set. He's been replaced for the 2014 All-Star game so that means he'll probably make next year's set. Posey stays unless I need the roster spot later.

First Base:

I'll keep starter Votto and Goldschmidt but ditch Freeman since he didn't make it into the game. That might save Posey's catcher spot.

Second Base:

Maybe Topps had it right at second base by not including anybody. I mean, a Red and a Cardinal? Blech.

I'm not a fan of Brandon Phillips at all but as the starter at second, he makes the set. I don't have his Series Two card so I had to use the Opening Day version. And with Matt Carpenter as the backup, he gets a card too.


I'll leave starter Troy Tulowitzki in at shortstop but I'll be damned if I have to make another NL Central card for back up Jean Segura. Ok, fine.

Third Base:

Starter David Wright gets to stay. And even though Pedro Alvarez is another NL Central guy, he had a nice horizontal card so I went ahead and gave him an All-Star logo too.


In the outfield, I'll keep starters Harper and Car-Go and NL MVP McCutchen. Right field starter Carlos Beltran is shown in a Yankees uniform though he was a Cardinal for the All-Star game last year so I will leave him out.

Designated Hitter:

The National League doesn't generally use a DH, but they did for the All-Star game. Cuddyer was snubbed in the real set, but gets a logo tacked onto his card here.

Last week, I made a couple of extra AL cards because I thought I would make the whole team. Since I knew I wasn't going to do that, I didn't make as many this week. The only extra I made should be pretty self explanatory.

Though he didn't get into the game last year, Travis Wood was the Cubs only representative. He didn't get an All-Star card in last year's Topps Update set either.

This year, the Cubs have two and a half representatives in Starlin Castro, Anthony Rizzo and Jeff Samardzija (the half). Go NL!