Sunday, January 25, 2015

In Person Autograph - Dominic Smith

Serra High and Orange Lutheran are roughly 35 miles away from each other so it was an absolute shock when Dominic Smith made an appearance at the Orange Lutheran alumni game over the weekend. The 2013 Mets first rounder had been staying with former OLu alum Jason Martin and decided to tag along for the game. The surprise appearance required me to make the trek back home to dig out some cards to get signed. Smith was extremely polite and humble and had no issues with signing everything I had, which was a lot. It was great to get an autograph of a local player who plays on an East Coast team that I would otherwise not have had the chance to acquire.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

In Person Autograph - Kolby Allard and Lucas Herbert

With all the high schools across the country, the odds of having any one ball player making a Team USA roster are remote at best. What does that say about San Clemente High which happens to have TWO players from last year's 18Usquad? With my newly acquired Team USA base set from the previous post, I headed out to a fall ball game this evening in the hopes of snagging my first two autographs from the set, battery mates Kolby Allard and Lucas Herbert.

Allard is generally considered the top prep pitcher in the Class of 2015. If all goes well for him this season, he will never set foot on the UCLA campus. If that is the case, he will join a long list of UCLA signees who went straight to the pros. The autograph didn't turn out the greatest as it was signed in the dark.

Herbert is another UCLA commit, and the Bruins are expected to have a hole at catcher next season so there is a chance he winds up in school. An interesting tidbit from tonight's contest is that Lucas called his own game behind the plate. It's rare to see a college catcher allowed to call his own game, much less a high school catcher. I thought this signature turned out really well.

The base set also includes a team photo of the 15U, 18U, and Collegiate teams. It's basically a checklist that lists the roster on the back. In recent years, I've tried to get as many of the players to sign on their respective team card. The first two signatures took up a lot of space so I'm not sure how many more will be able to fit.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Box Break - 2014 Panini USA Baseball

The yearly Team USA products are generally one of my favorites. The autos and jerseys aren't that big a deal to me, as I am after the base cards to get IP autographs. For whatever the reason (perhaps the $90!! box price), I haven't seen as many of the base cards offered through the various online sources, and with the autograph season right around the corner, I've been getting a bit nervous.

The base set of 81 cards has been going online for ~$30 which seems a bit much to me. I've had a $100 Amazon Gift card from work just lying around, so I decided to bite the bullet and pick up a box for roughly $100 after tax and shipping. Sigh (I am rationalizing this as a free purchase). Trust me, boxes are definitely NOT my thing. Why spend money on a crapshoot when I can spend the same amount of money and knowingly purchase what I want? Anyways, the box arrived in the mail today, and here are the results:

Personally, I don't think the base cards have as nice of a design as last year's product, but beggars can't be choosers. Turang, Cameron, and Funkhouser look to be the top prospects from the 15U, 18U, and Collegiate teams, respectively. Turang is the son of former big leaguer Brian Turang, and Cameron is the son of long time major leaguer Mike Cameron.

Each box promises 9 "hits", 7 being autographs and 2 memorabilia cards. Of the 4 base autos I received, I was most pleased with the Garza and Molnar, two local products who I have seen pitch in the past. I have the ticket stub from Garza's first collegiate win for Cal State Fullerton, and I saw Molnar pitch a no-hitter last year. I happened to be scoring the game, and he signed the scorecard for me afterwards.
The three additional autos are of players I have not heard of before. I do like the look of the Gold AU, even if it is a sticker auto.
Last but not least are the 2 memorabilia pieces. I am not familiar with L.T. Tolbert (apparently he is committed to South Carolina), but the Jumbo Jersey Patch numbered out of 20 is probably my favorite card from the box. Just a beautiful looking card. 

It appears that around 20 of the 65 unique player cards are of guys that may be in my area this year. As such, I will try to keep a running track of any IP successes during the year.