Thursday, August 17, 2017

2013 Lance McCullers

Another week, another Astro profiled!  This week, it’s everyone’s favorite curveballer, Lance McCullers!  McCullers was one of the very first Inception cards I owned, thanks to @jstephens2482 a little while back!  Little did he know what a journey he was sending me on!  So a big thank you to him!  

When reading up on Lance McCullers, I kept shaking my head as I realized just how much people knew about him long before I did!  Honestly, when I first received the card I had never even heard of McCullers.  He was still a little way from taking his place in the Majors.  But I am so glad he did and so glad I have this card!  

Before I go on, I want to give a huge Thank You to Gibson Sports Memorabilia for their support of this blog!  Because of Josh and what he is building at GSM, I have some great stuff headed your way on this blog!  I am also partnering with them for some opportunities to continue writing and exploring the collecting hobby in brand new ways!

Player History:

Just reading about McCullers’ early accolades was really fun.  Obviously he is the son of a former Major Leaguer, so some of that comes as no surprise. 

 According to MLB.com, McCullers was the 2012 Gatorade National Baseball Player of the Year going 13-0 with an 0.18 ERA and 140 strikeouts.  The following organizations all named McCullers as a High School All-American: ESPNHS, Baseball America, Rawlings, Perfect Game, MaxPreps and Louisville Slugger.  And the year before, he had been named the Jackie Robinson Award Winner as the country’s top rising senior.  

 So why was he drafted 41st overall (the same exact spot in the draft that his dad was drafted)  and not higher?

The simple answer is that scouts saw a lot of talent and a really good arm, but they did not know if he had that “It factor”; that something that would put him over the top.  One scout wrote shortly before the draft that McCullers looked to be a No. 3 type starter, or that he could be a bullpen workhorse along the lines of Brad Lidge or Francisco “KRod” Rodgriguez. It’s interesting to note that that same scout added “as long as McCullers stays healthy.”  

Here are a few quotes about McCullers from scouting reports: 

  • Understands nuances of pitching but still shows as more of a thrower than a pitcher. Has depth of arsenal to be tried as a starter.    
  • Mid-rotation potential with more control than command, or closer potential if moved to relief    
  • The fastball and curveball both could settle in as plus-plus pitches with dominating potential. His change-up lacks substance and his command/control are flat out poor right now with only modest projection.

So really it just seems like the baseball world wanted to watch and wait to see if McCullers could pull off being a Major League son of a Major Leaguer.   I’d say the proof is in the pudding.  Despite battling the anticipated injuries, McCullers has flourished since being called up in 2015 (going 4.2 innings, with 1 earned run and five strikeouts against Oakland in his debut) and was an All-Star in 2017.

Here’s a quick look at McCullers’ stats in the Majors. Note that he has averaged over one strikeout per inning in his career.  Not quite Jose Fernandez stuff, but still pretty awesome:



Look of the Card:

There is a lot to like about the look of this card, but one thing in particular I don’t like: his hair.  I know it’s the cool thing for ballplayers to have the long, bushy hair coming out of their hat right now, but I am just not a fan.  Since being called up to the Astros, McCullers has been very clean cut and stylish, so I imagine he probably saw this card and knew he had to change the hairstyle!  

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s look at the good aspects.   One thing I really like about this card is the balance.  If you notice, McCullers is holding the ball up in the air, fairly close to the middle of the top of the card.  And if you draw a line down the card from there, you get a sense of how balanced McCullers is at the moment before he unleashes what appears to be a curveball or some other off speed pitch with movement.  You can see his thumb tucked under the ball and his two fingers straddling the seem; this is not a fastball.  Maybe somebody with a better eye for pitching can correct me if I am wrong. 

The look on his face is another example of what I believe to be collected confidence: McCullers has absolute faith in where this pitch is going to go.  It isn’t an intense, laser focused look, but it’s also not lackadaisical.  It’s what I imagine Greg Maddux probably looked like for most of his pitches.  The strength and force of the upcoming pitch is foreshadowed by the taught muscles in the forearm of his glove hand.  That’s what betrays the violent force of nature known as McCullers’ curveball that’s coming.  

One final note about the card: the style of his signature tells me that this is someone who practiced his signature as a kid.  This is completely surmising, but as a kid with a father who played in the MLB and has a name that doesn’t flow well in a signature, I imagine Lance spent more than a few minutes as a kid mastering the pen strokes of his John Hancock. I like the jagged look of all the up and down strokes in contrast to the big loop of the opening L.  Very cool.  I would love a chance to watch him do this in person some day!  


From the Player

This week,  I am changing up the last segment of the profile.  Instead chronicling the value of the card in the few ways I can, I want to try and get into the mind of the player I am profiling.  Try to find some way to make him more relatable to me and the people who read this.  I got some really good feedback regarding the post about Mark Appel and how that resonated with people.  Most players will not be so open and honest about their inner lives, so each will I will try and find something unique about the player.  

One of the things I had heard a long time ago in passing was that the Astros targeted McCullers specifically for the spin rate on his pitches.  I found an article on USA Today about the science behind spin rates and how McCullers immediately bought into the analytics of spin rate with the Astros.  

When asked about using the data, he responded by saying “I thought it was real cool from the get-go.  Some guys, they throw 90, and they throw fastballs by everybody. And you’re like, ‘How does that happen, when I’m throwing 95 and I’m getting my fastball hit around the park?’ Or, ‘Why are some guys’ curveballs better than others?’” It’s clear that McCullers has a very solid mental approach to the game.  Even though an early scout called him more of a thrower than a pitcher, it’s obvious that McCullers set out to be a pitcher in every sense of the word. 

One of the worries, of course, is the possibility of overloading a player’s head with statistics, scouting reports and other things that cloud the mind and get in the way of focusing on the next pitch.  To this McCullers said “I’m not overthinking anything,” he said. “This is concrete stuff. It’s not ten different opinions given to me, where I have to kind of go through and decide which I want to run with. This is 100% accurate stuff that has been proven to work, and that’s why I’m so excited about it.”

You have to love a player who combines talent with preparation, always trying to be better and willing to be coached in new and unique ways.  Definitely makes McCullers worth following…if he can stay healthy!  

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Friday, July 28, 2017

2015 Colin Moran



Welcome back!  I know I apologized last week for doing two Minnesota Twins in a row, but that actually inspired me for what’s to come these next few weeks.  Houston Astros.  Three in a row.  
So get excited. 

This week I decided to look at Colin Moran; both because he got his first call-up of the year (second chance in his career at the Majors) and then immediately took a foul ball to the face which necessitated a trip to the DL.  

Reading about Moran was a reminder of why I love this project so much.  I really had no idea about who he was before being drafted and what it was that made him such a potential prospect.  Part of it is because he played at North Carolina.  I have a bias against UNC baseball because they benefitted from one of the worst strike three calls in the history of the College World Series; a call that essentially eliminated my Rice Owls from the last time they had a shot at winning the CWS.  Obviously I still haven’t let go of that. 

Player History:

Information about Moran really starts with his junior year at UNC.  That year he batted .345 with 13 HRs and 91 RBI, earning All-American honors and recognition as a finalist for the Golden Spikes Award. He lost the award to a guy named Kris Bryant, who you might see profiled on this site some time in the near future. 

Why was 2013 the real breakout year for Moran?  Because 2012 was the beginning of an interesting pattern. 

He broke his hand in 2012 and missed most of the season.  In 2015, Moran had his season completely thwarted by a fractured jaw suffered by an errant throw while sliding into second base.  And just now in 2017 he fouled off a ball and fractured his face.  This guy can not catch a break.  

Moran was drafted 6th overall by the Marlins in the 2013 draft but was a part of the trade that sent Jarred Cosart to Miami and also brought Jake Marisnick to Houston in 2014.  At the end of that year he was already ranked the No. 7 prospect for the Astros. 

The scouting reports on Moran all said pretty much the exact same thing: he has a very high Hit Tool, and everything else is average.  I read that over and over again.  Here is a good example from one source of what everyone was saying about Moran in 2013: 

  • Approach is sound with good pitch recognition and a plan at the plate. Picks up spin early and shows willingness and discipline to lay off borderline pitches. Attacks pitches he can drive. Barrel stays in the zone a long time. Has ability to adjust barrel to meet the ball, regardless of movement. 
  • Rarely fooled. Uses the whole field well. Excellent plate coverage. Lots of line drives and good, hard contact. 
  • Potential plus hitter with high OBP thanks to approach and willingness to work counts. Hit tool should mature quickly against pro pitching.The guy can hit. He has the approach, discipline, simple swing, plate coverage and bat speed to hit for a solid average against high-level professional pitching. 
  • He will find the gaps with regularity and he will have 10-15 home run power just by virtue of him driving mistake pitches and some of his doubles carrying over the fence

And then in 2016 when he got his first call-up: 

  • Moran has a simple swing that generates lots of contact but little power. His bat speed is merely average, but he controls the strike zone well and uses the whole field. Defensively, he has limited range, but he’s otherwise solid and should be able to adequately handle the hot corner for Houston.

Honestly, people in general seem to not really know what makes Moran successful.  He just keeps getting it done despite working with average (or worse) tools overall.  It’s truly fascinating. 

 Despite the injury plagued career (even before July 22 of this year), and a really bad 2016 overall (he went 0-13 to start his career when called up last year), Moran was still a top 20 prospect for the Astros and got a second shot at the Majors when Carlos Correa went down with an injury. Sadly, it was in his second game that he fractured his face (it’s really fun to type that even though I feel really bad for him and can’t imagine how much it hurt).  Here are Moran’s career stats for his two cups of coffee in the Majors:




Look of the Card:

Moran’s appearance on his 2015 Inception card seems to really mirror his potential as a baseball prospect.  There doesn’t appear to be something super special, yet it’s obvious he is a ballplayer.  

My eyes are immediately drawn to the lack of an outsized feature.  There are no tightly wound muscles, no super intense or goofy looks on his face.  Even in this picture, his follow through looks as though it was an easy swing that made smooth contact and he is just watching where it will fall.  

The fact that he is wearing the blue sleeve and white gloves is a unique feature that I like, just something that I have not seen in many of the Inception cards. It’s especially interesting as I follow his right arm in the sleeve, down to the two gloved hands and then up the unsleeved arm.  Really interesting balance of colors.  

His signature is one of my favorites among the recent profiles for sure.  All I can make out are “CLM,” but they are clean and crisp.  I like it.  The flow of the letters is like his hit tool, smooth and easy, very clearly getting the job done.  

Card Value

So unsurprisingly, Moran's card value is pretty low on the whole.  I was surprised to see that the 1/1 parallel recently sold (and for probably less than $100).  What was more interesting to me was that you can buy the entire rainbow of the set except for the 1/1 on COMC.com for about $40 including shipping!  So if you are a big UNC fan or think Moran really has a shot, now is your time to strike!  Just don't injure yourself clicking on the Confirm Purchase too quickly...



Thanks again to Gibson Sports Memorabilia for their continued sponsorship! Please check out their inventory at:

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Thursday, July 27, 2017

Byron Buxton 2013 and 2014


Well, honestly I did not mean to go with Twins players in back to back weeks.  But I have been looking for a chance to write about Byron Buxton for a while now.  It is especially interesting to me though, now, looking at his career when juxtaposed with Miguel Sano from last week.  Whereas Sano seems to continue to rise, Buxton just cannot live up to his pre-draft billing as “the next big thing.”  

The funny thing is that, at first, it seemed like the Astros had made the wrong call by going with Carlos Correa as the first overall pick in the 2012 draft instead of Buxton.  Buxton’s minor league career started off hot while Correa’s was not so amazing initially.  But as the great Michael Scott of Dunder Mifflin Paper Co. once said, “My how the turn tables have turned.”  

Player History:

If you pay attention to baseball at all, you know the gist of Buxton’s story.  He was the No. 2 overall pick behind Carlos Correa, has tantalized scouts and fans with his athleticism for years, and has yet to made good on the promise he once posed.  He debuted in June of 2015 and has kept fantasy baseball players on a roller coaster ride ever since.   And because that story is so well known in the baseball work, I really just wanted to look at what was being said about Buxton before the draft and early in his career, and what’s being said now.  

Here are some quotes I found that were published before and after the draft back in 2012: 

  • Given his already advanced approach at the plate and ability to make hard contact, I wouldn't be surprised if he develops into a 20-25 home run each year type of hitter at the next level. More realistically, I'd say he's got what it takes to hit 15-20 home runs on a yearly basis in the bigs.  

  • Aside from his ability to cover, as one scout described it, "acres of ground" in center field, Buxton also boasts one of the strongest and most accurate arms of any player in the draft.

  • Arguably the most athletically gifted player featured in this year's class, Buxton consequently possesses deadly speed that he utilizes both in center field and on the bases.  

  • True potential for all five tools in an extremely athletic and explosive body. Projects for plenty of hitting ability which should allow his speed and power to play on offense. Defense and arm strength show well now and could improve more with experience. Hard worker. Will have some significant adjustments to make as a professional. Lacks consistent experience against top flight competition and will need to adjust to big velocity and quality secondary pitches. Hitting mechanics and natural instincts with the bat should allow for those adjustments to be made. Potential game-changing player that in a centerpiece on a championship level club.

Given these takes by scouts and people’s whose jobs it is know these players, it’s not hard to imagine how high the expectations really were for Buxton.  And at first, he delivered well.  By the mid-season report of 2013, Buxton was ranked as the top prospect in all of baseball.  He was also selected as a starter in the Future’s Game.

But here we are, 4 years after that Future’s Game.  Even though Buxton is still only 23 years old, the future is just not as bright.  On scout wrote at the beginning of this season:

  • Once the most regarded prospects in Major League Baseball, Twins centerfielder Byron Buxton has struggled with too many strikeouts, too few walks and minimal power for a player of his athleticism. His slash line of .168/.248/.253 is likely a source of great stress for Buxton and Twins fans alike

It was actually surprising that I could not find a lot of analysis as to WHY Buxton has struggled so much.  Maybe there is some stuff behind paywalls that I cannot access, but for the most part people have just written Buxton off as an almost-failure.  So I asked Scott Welsh from the “In This League” fantasy baseball podcast for a summation of Buxton’s problems.  Here is what he had to say:

  • Everyone says not all prospects pan out. When you look at the top prospects from 2015 you have Buxton surrounded by Bryant and Correa. Buxton was the one many said was can't miss. He still has that elite speed, but a huge hole in his swing. Pitch recognition has been an issue in the majors. Though his walks have improved, his avg still continues to struggle. He's only 23 and has the tools to turn it around, but no longer is he in the same stratosphere of a player as Bryant or Correa.

In the end, the common refrain is that there is still time for Buxton to figure it out.  Here’s hoping he does! 

Look of the Card:

It’s funny how often this week’s profile makes me think of last week’s!  Whereas all three of Miguel Sano’s cards showed different perspectives of the player, both of Buxton’s cards show roughly the same moment of action.  

Each card shows Buxton finishing the follow through on his swing, and in each photo his hands are finishing higher up than is typical in these kinds of pictures.  The look on his face and the position of his front leg is practically the same on each card, which I guess is a testimony to his consistency (there is definitely a joke there about consistently letting down his team…).  Even the color scheme is consistent with Buxton’s cards; the blue jersey for the cobalt background for the 2013 card and the gray jersey for the woodgrain background in 2014.  I am honestly not really sure what to make of that other than the card makers must have really liked that look on Buxton.

The autographs are pretty interesting to me.  The first one is so tight and small; it seems a little out of place for someone with as much fanfare as Buxton has had.  I really expected his autograph to look more like the 2014 version, which has more loops and a little bit more flourish.  I feel like a discussion of what a guy’s autograph means about the player would fit in perfectly in one of the early scenes of Moneyball.  Not sure there is any merit to it all, but it’s fun to think about. 

Card Value:

There was a time when it seemed that nobody would take less than $30 for any Buxton Inception (2013 or 2014).  Obviously that was when the prospect of his success was still sky high.  Even though a lot of asking prices still remain high on the Buy It Now listings, the auction listings show just how far he has fallen in terms of card value. 









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Thursday, July 20, 2017

2013-2015 Miguel Sano

 

Welcome back for another edition of A Very Simple Idea!  I am so thankful for anyone who has taken the time to read any of these posts and especially for the feedback I have been getting!  Any and all feedback is welcome as I want to continue to grow as a writer/blogger.

This week’s research was another example of why I love this project so much.  To me, I had never heard of Miguel Sano before last baseball season.  He made his debut in July of 2015, but it did not register on my baseball radar.  I had no idea what his journey through the minors entailed, how hot of a prospect he was, and how exciting of a player he would become!  It’s really a joy to dig in and see all this in my research!  

There are not many players that appear in three sets of Inception (Jose Berrios is the only other one I can think of off the top of my head); so I am happy to bring to you some info about a guy whose Major League career was a long time in coming! 

Player History:

Like a good number of players in the Inception sets, Sano was born in the Dominican Republic and signed as 16 year old with the Twins in October of 2009.  I was unaware of this until a couple of days ago, but apparently Sano is featured in the 2011 documentary called “Ballplayer: Pelotero.”  I know it used to be available to stream on Netflix, but no longer!  It seems merited, as Sano immediately became the Twins No.4 ranked prospect and the 94th ranked prospect in all of baseball! 

Here is a quick progression of Sano during his time in the Minor Leagues:

Homered in his first at bat in 2010.  At the end of 2011 he was a Baseball America Minor League All-Star, ranking as the top prospect for the Twins and jumping all the way to the 23rd ranked prospect overall.  In 2012 he won the award for the Twins Minor League Player of the Year and moved to the 12th ranked prospect in baseball.  Sano was invited to play in the Future’s Game in 2013, starting at third base and batting fourth!  By this point he was the third overall prospect behind fellow Inception subjects Byron Buxton and Oscar Taveras.  He missed all of 2014 because of Tommy John surgery on his right elbow, but rebounded well enough to get his call-up on July 2, 2015.  

To me, that journey epitomizes the path of the Major Leaguer.  I think it speaks volumes about Sano that he began as a 16 year old kid and worked his way up through just about every level of the Minors, establishing himself and then thriving, before earning his spot on a Major League roster.  I just respect that a lot.  

In my research, the comparisons I saw that jumped out to me about Sano were with Adrain Beltre (surefire Hall of Fame candidate) and Giancarlo Stanton!  Why?  One word: power. 
One scouting report I read said that “Sano is first and foremost a power prospect, with some scouts even giving him an 80 on the 20-80 scouts scale.”  That’s amazing.  Over and over again I saw praise for Sano’s ability to hit the ball very, very hard.  Even when scouts criticized Sano (“HIs play was careless and inconsistent at times throughout the last couple of years…and he needs to strive to make improvements to his defense and plate discipline in order to blossom into an elite player”), there is no criticizing his power potential. 

It comes as no surprise then, that Sano was invited to the Home Run Derby this year and made it all the way to the finals.  Then of course he was Judged and found lacking…

Either way, I am more excited about following Sano for the rest of his career now.  I am highly impressed with what I have seen and read about him!

Look of the Card:

One of the first things I realized as I look at the 2013 Inception for Sano is that I just can’t deny that I love the dark jersey on the dark background of this set.  Every card in this set that has that combination just makes me happy.  I can’t give an analysis as to why for the most part, I just like it.  Though I do not like how in this particular picture, the white pants he is wearing disappear a little too completely.  To me it seems to throw the picture off balance more than the typical Inception card.  

The next thing I notice about this card is that I do get a sense of the power tool that I read so much about.  Admittedly, observing the card AFTER reading so much about his power undoubtedly influences how I see it.  But it’s still there.  It’s not hulking, raw power in the way of Judge or or guys from the Steroid Era.  Really it’s a lithe, compact, athletic power showing in this follow through.  The look on his face is not one of effortless concentration.  Instead I see his face as an outlet for the power surge that he just uncorked.  The back hand coming off of the bat also reminds me of Griffey Jr…something I used to emulate as a kid.

In the 2014 card, Sano is definitely a little thicker and filled out.  The overall impact of the card is very similar to the 2013 version, but there is much greater sense of control.  The follow through is not nearly as wild, but the strain on his face is evidence of the power being pushed into the swing.  Somehow, again, the coloring of the jersey on this card meshes perfectly with the background; the fading on this card works so much better than the white-on-white of the 2013 card as well.  And for me, the coloring of the sunglasses just adds a “cool factor” to the card as a whole.  In looking at the two cards side by side, I feel like Sano did a lot of “growing up” in the year between the two photos.  

The 2015 is honestly one of the most awkward cards that I have seen in any of the sets.  In it, Sano is a fraction of a second from unleashing a throw, presumably to first base.  But it has none of the control and ferocity of any of the pitchers I have looked or the fluidity of any of the infielders I have seen thus far.  The strain on his face in this card does not belie the power of a hit took, but of a guy struggling to get the ball to go where he wants it.   The angle of the card makes it look almost like he is leaning back and the angle of his arm in the picture is just awkward.  I am sure if the perspective were different or if it were taken seconds before/after it would be a much better card.  Overall just a poor presentation of a very good player.  What must he have thought when he was signing these cards?

Card Value:

As I peruse eBay for cards that I do not own, I am always struck when an unusual number of parallels are available for a player, or when his relic/auto is more readily available than the regular card.  Such is the case with Sano and has been for as long as I can remember.  Very interesting phenomenon in my experience.  




Of particular note is that you can buy a lot of 3 of the /10 parallels together on eBay, giving you 30% of that entire set of 10 for just $499.99!  Get on it people!  :)


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Wednesday, July 12, 2017

2013 Jose Fernandez 2013/2014 Oscar Taveras




Welcome back to the the 16th profile on A Very Simple Idea!  I got some feedback that the “themed” post was a good idea, so this week I will give it another try.  Unfortunately, the theme this time around is much less enjoyable, even if the players on the profile were a joy to read about.  
I knew that at some point I would need to write about Jose Fernandez and Oscar Taveras, but I really wasn’t sure how to approach each of their profiles.  After thinking on it for the last few weeks, it seemed only appropriate to write about them together, as the tragedy of their early departures and the resulting sentiments were all too similar. 
Before looking into the data on these guys, I admit that I did not have enough appreciation for what Fernandez was doing in terms of strikeouts and just how highly touted Taveras was.  I am sad that we will never get to watch them play baseball again, but am glad to be able to capture a piece of history for my collection with these three Bowman Inception autographed cards.
The goal of this post is to celebrate the players as they were on the field, not get into any discussion about their deaths or the circumstances surrounding them.  

Player History:

Some times I wish that I had stuck with Statistics as one of my college majors, because as I have gotten older I have really wanted to understand baseball analytics and the way players are scouted.  The debate on who to draft and why will always be a back-and-forth between statistics and “the eye test,” but sometimes it should just be obvious.  Now that I have a better sense of where Fernandez came from, I believe that his rise should have been seen from a mile away.

Without going into the significant story of how Fernandez ended up in America, I will start with the fact that he was a two time state championship winning pitcher from Tampa, Florida.  His senior year he was 13-1 with a 1.35 ERA in 16 starts.  This was good enough to be drafted 14th overall by the Marlins in 2011.

Here is a composite scouting report from prospect361.com regarding Fernandez:

When looking at Fernandez, it’s hard not to be impressed by the mature physicality of the body.  He’s 6-foot-2 and 240 sturdy pounds.  he carries himself very well on the mound, projecting that ever so elusive mound presence.  What exactly is that?…An attitude and look that he is in charge and belongs.  Fernandez has it and more…[his] arsenal is elite and he has the potential to be a top of the rotation starter with an ace ceiling.  

Ironically, the scouting report continues (this part was written just as Fernandez was being called up to the majors):

Do I believe he’ll be as dominating in the Majors?  No, but I also believe that he will hold his own with a chance to be very effective over his first few outings.  However, Major League hitters will quickly expose his deficiencies and this is when his inexperience could play a factor.  Will he be able to react to the adjustments?  The Marlins must think he can and I for one, can’t wait to find out.

And how did that turn out? Fernandez made his Major League debut on April 7th of 2013 against the Mets, allowing only one run on three hits (and of course eight strikeouts).  From there he became an All-Star and National League Rookie of the Year. Despite battling injuries over the course of 2014 and 2015, Fernandez compiled a career record of 28-17.  Over his 471 innings pitched, Fernandez amassed 589 strikeouts, giving him an astounding 11.25 strikeouts-per-nine rate. For perspective, Nolan Ryan’s k/9 rate was 9.54.  

Oscar Taveras was born in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic in 1992.  Sixteen years later, the Cardinals signed him as an international free agent.  From 2009-2013 he was consistently one of the best hitters in the Minor Leagues.  He garnered enough acclaim and attention that he was declared the batting champion of the MidWest League (A level ball) with a .386 average even though he was 31 plate appearances shy of actually qualifying!

In 2012 alone, Taveras lead all Cardinals minor league players in hits, doubles, triples, home runs, RBIs, slugging percentage and on base percentage.  He was also in the top five of batting average and runs scored.  He was the MVP of the Texas League All-Star Game and was a starting outfielder in the 2012 Future’s Game, batting third for the World team.  

2013 saw Taveras injure his ankle only 46 games into the season, but by this time, he was already one of the top ranked prospects in all of baseball.  Taveras was still able to make his MLB debut in May of 2014, going 1-3 with a home run.  Statistically, that season would not be amazing for Taveras, but it was assumed it was only a matter of time before he would have the same success in the Majors as he did in the Minors.  

The comments from the baseball world about each player were very similar in the days following their deaths.  Marlins President David Samson said that “Jose is a member of this family for all time, his story is representative of a story of hope, and love and of faith, and no one will ever let that story die.”  MLB Commissioner at the time, Bud Selig, said of Taveras: “Oscar, a young member of the Baseball family, was full of promise and at the dawn of a wonderful career in our game, evident in his game-tying home run against the Giants exactly two weeks ago.”  Selig was referring to the second to last hit of Taveras’ career, a pinch-hit game-tying home run in the National League Division Series that the Cardinals won with a walk-off home run in the ninth. 

Without a doubt, both Fernandez and Taveras will be continue to be missed by the baseball world  for a very long time.  I am thankful to have gotten to know them a little better though this blog and will always enjoy holding their Inception cards in my collection.

Look of the Card:

Long before I came close to finishing this set, I felt like the Fernandez Inception was one of the best looking cards in the set.  The colors of the Marlins black jersey combined with the detailed coloring of the logos on the jersey just really stand out on the cobalt background of the 2013 card.  The signature leaves a little to be desired - I have not compared it to other types of cards or years to see if he ever got better with this - but I do love the addition of his jersey number 16 at the end.  Love that move.  

All that really can be said about this card is that it does seem to embody the mound presence that Fernandez captured so perfectly.  There is nothing tight or tense about him in this moment before unleashing a pitch that was mostly likely about to be swung at and missed.  His face is relaxed, yet focused.  His body coiled but not tightly wound.  It absolutely projects self-confidence and the belief that this is the perfect pitch for the moment.  

The 2013 Taveras card contains much of the same feel to it.  In the photo, he has obviously just followed through on a ball that he connected with, as evident by his eyes tracking the flight of the ball.  This may sound sacrilegious to some, but it has a very Ken Griffey Jr. feel to the follow through.  Just smooth and complete. 

The mechanics of the 2013 card is fairly basic, though, as nothing else really stands out about the coloring, positioning or the signature.  Definitely not one of the best signatures I have seen; looks like the pen came up off the card as he finished the auto.  

Everything about the 2014 Taveras Inception is a little more intense.  The look on his face is not nearly as relaxed, and there is a spark in his eyes that is not present in the 2013 card.  The fact that the shot is from the opposite angle as the 2013 card show he is about to take off for first base, giving a greater sense of his athleticism. Even the signature seems a little more intense, as if he was paying more attention or pushing down on the marker a little harder as he scribbled his name.  I am also a fan of the flourish of the line through the name at the end!  For whatever reason, it gives an aura of completeness to the whole thing.

Card Value:

This is the first time that I have looked at three cards in one post, so I am hoping that the chart does not get too convoluted.  Here is a quick guide to the chart:

BIN - Buy It Now (to keep it simple I am not including auctions in the chart)
eBay Sales: eBay data is only available for the previous three months
COMC Sales: this covers the amount of times a card was purchased and changed hands, not necessarily that that number of individual cards were purchased

(Sorry for the formatting of the chart. I am still trying to figure out the best way to get this part down)


eBay Listings
eBay Sales
COMC Listings
COMC Sales
Jose Fernandez 2013
BIN listings: $21.99-$59.99
16 sold: $10.49-$44
1 listed for $50.25
80 total sold
Notes
There is an /25 parallel listed for $125 but a /10 parallel sold for $37 recently.
Oscar Taveras 2013
BIN listings: $7.95-$75.95
5 sold: $3.99-$15.50
8 listed: $7.75-$30.24
46 total sold
Notes
There is an /25 parallel listed for $59.99 but a /10 parallel sold for $17.88  recently.
Oscar Taveras 2014
BIN listings: $7.99-$50
4 sold: $2.25-$14.99
2 listed: $20.25-$24.50
43 total sold
Notes
An /99 Gold parallel sold for $10 recently.



I really wish I had data going back to when each of them passed away.  I remember shortly after Fernandez died that it was hard to get his Inception for less than $60 for a couple of months.  It was not too long before prices started coming back down into the $20s and then some even dipped down into the teens.  It really is an interesting phenomenon, the way prices surge when a player dies; probably worth looking into for someone with more time on their hands than I do!  

Thanks for hanging with me this week!  Next week, my plan is to look at the only player that I currently have cards for that span 2013-2015…Miguel Sano! 

Thanks again to Gibson Sports Memorabilia for their continued sponsorship! Please check out their inventory at:

@gibsonsportsmem
Check out their inventory on eBay here