As I am only four card profiles into this adventure, it is very important to me that I keep the information as fresh as possible, for as long as possible. One of the things that will change quickly is that I will have less and less to say about the actual cards I am writing about, since I have already covered the base versions of all four sets and that’s what I mostly collect.
So the short term answer is to find the few parallels I have and focus on those in the coming weeks, just so I can have a slightly different angel to talk about with the coloring of the card. Hopefully that will help keep me interested even if nobody else is!
This week I chose to go with another prospect on the cusp of making it big, but who struggled with his first taste of Major League action last year: Jose Orlando (JO) Berrios. I will be taking a look at his 2016 Inception card that is the Purple Parallel, limited to 150 copies.
Berrios is the second player born in Puerto Rico that I have profiled thus far (preceded by the great Carlos Correa). Like Correa, Berrios was chosen in the first round, but at the 32nd overall pick instead of the first. Berrios was the second pick by the Twins that year, with Byron Buxton being the first. Admittedly, I knew a lot about Buxton heading into that draft but had not heard of Jose Berrios until this past year when he was touted as one of the most MLB-ready prospects in the game.
His first run in rookie ball went very well; he started 11 games, going 3-0 with 4 saves, 49 strikeouts and a 1.17 ERA. This was exciting enough to land him as the Twins #9 ranked prospect heading into the 2013 season.
Less than a year after being chosen by the Twins, Berrios pitched for his Puerto Rican national team in the World Baseball Classic. I could not find his statistics for the tournament, but I can only imagine he gained valuable experience and insight from being on a team that made it to and lost the finals against the Dominican Republic.
Unfortunately for Jose, his 2013 campaign was not as spectacular as was expected. In 19 games started (103.2 innings), his record was only 7-7 with an ERA of 3.99. He did, however, continue to rack up the strikeouts with exactly 100 over the course of the season, giving him a strikeout to inning ration or just over 1 per inning.
His work ethic and increasing command of his repertoire was continuing to impress scouts heading into the 2014 season, one in which he was the now the third ranked prospect in the system. Some of the things scouts have said about Berrios during his time in the minors:
- Berrios has a very lively and quick arm.
- He brings his fastball at 93-96 mph.
- Berrios' secondary pitches include a curveball that many have called a "slurve" and a changeup that he trusts [but] he has work to sharpen, and a changeup that is an out pitch for him.
- Berrios has a solid three-pitch arsenal, leading with a fastball that can reach 97 mph, but typically sits 93-95 with late life.
- Berrios is fearless and aggressive on the mound
- He overcomes his lack of height and weight with excellent athletic ability, quickness and very sound baseball instincts.
- Berrios in a word: Focused
It’s hard not to root for a guy who is described as focused and willing to overcome any physical obstacle in his way to achieve his goal! And it’s really great to read about a top prospect who is concerned about crafting pitches instead of relying on one great pitch.
The 2014 and 2015 seasons were years in which Berrios really began to shine as a prospect. Here are his basic statistics in mostlyh AA and AAA ball:
- 2014: G: 25, Innings: 140, 12-8, SO: 140, ERA: 2.76 (6 ER in 3 Innings at AAA, 18 ERA)
- 2015: G: 27, Innings: 166, 14-5 SO: 175, ERA: 2.87
As the competition level increased, it seemed Berrios always needed some time to adjust before settling in and raising his game to meet the demand. He was so good at the end of 2015 that the Twins had a debate about whether to bring him up of the run at the playoffs, but ultimately held off because of the career high 166 innings he had pitched already that year.
Going into 2016, Berrios had risen to the #2 prospect and the conversation was more of “when” not “if” he was going to get the call. That call came against the Indians on April 27. To that point, Berrios had amassed a ridiculous amount of awards and recognitions in the minors. The list looked like this:
- MILB.COM ORGANIZATION ALL-STAR x3
- MID-SEASON ALL-STAR x4
- PITCHER OF THE WEEK x5
- Baseball America TRIPLE-A ALL-STAR
- Baseball America MINOR LEAGUE ALL-STAR
- Baseball America HIGH CLASS A ALL-STAR
- Baseball America POST-SEASON ALL-STAR
To go along with these awards, Berrios was given the nod as a starting pitcher in the Futures Game at the All-Star Break in both 2014 and 2015. It’s hard to imagine how anyone could have been more ready to make the leap to the Big Leagues after all of that!
Unfortunately, Berrios struggled out of the gate at the Major League level. Against the Indians, Jose only pitched 4 innings, giving up 5 Earned Runs, 2 Walks with 5 strikeouts. His final stats for his time in the Majors over the course of the season were not good:
- 3-7, ERA: 8.02, G: 14, Innings: 58, SO: 49
So, yes, incredibly disappointing for the young man. Yet the overall expectation is that he will right the ship (as he has on every single level he has pitched) and establish himself as a mainstay in the Twins pitching rotation. He is also planning to pitch for his country again in the upcoming World Baseball Classic.
According to an article on MLB.com, “Berrios worked with pitching coach Neil Allen on his arm action late last season, as there was some worry he was tipping pitches, particularly his changeup; hitters could see his grip when he took the ball behind his back before his delivery. Berrios said he has cleaned that up and is feeling comfortable with his new arm path.” So there really is a lot to look forward to with Jose! Here’s to hoping he make a big impression during the WBC and gets another crack at MLB hitters all season long!
Look of the Card:
So as I said at the top of the article, one of the reasons I chose this card was because it is a numbered parallel and so has a slightly different color scheme to discuss. In all honesty, though, the purple parallel is probably the least interesting of the 2016 parallels since is just a purple and black background, instead of purple, blue and black.
This is another instance of the card looking better in person than on a screen; the depth of the colors and the way they play against the color of the jersey just does not come through on the screen at all. That being said, my mind is biased with this card because the Twins are always a purple color in my mind’s eye. So there is just something about the “purple on purple” that just feels strange about this particular card.
I do think the silver stamp on the bottom left tends to stand out better with the Purple Parallel though.
The pose that Berrios strikes in this card is very similar to Jose De Leon from my previous post. It shows the righty in a state of follow-through after throwing a pitch. Whereas De Leon’s face was rigid with incredibly focused eyes, Berrios’s mouth is open as if exhaling to give his pitch a little extra “umph.” His eyes are not staring straight up from the card, as were De Leon’s, but the focus and intensity is no less.
The ripples on his jersey, as well as the obvious momentum he has from his push-off leg give credence to the idea that the ball jumps from his hand.
I like Jose’s signature better than most that I have looked at so far. The big looping J is something I identify with, and at least you can make out the better portion of his name for the duration of the of the ink.
All-in-all, I have mixed feelings about the Purple Parallel. I like that it’s not a crazy departure in color (like the 2014 /50 Pink Parallel), but at the same time the purple just does not do it for me. It’s possible I am just over-influenced by the Twins purple connection, so I will have to see if I have any other Purple Parallels to compare to down the road.
Since I am writing about the /150 parallel, I decided to include that particular card in my research into the purchase history of the 2016 Berrios Inception. Here is what I found.
The range of current asking prices on Ebay looks like this:
- Base: $4.24-$12
- /150: $9.99-$15
So obviously the asking price on Berrios can fluctuate according to typical Inception standards, though I would venture to say the range does not feel quite as large as others I have looked at. As for completed, the various final prices for these continues to amaze me. For the Purple Parallel (/150) final prices were as low as $0.99 to a Best Offer accepted on a listing that was $9.99. The base version has sold from $2.99 to $4.25 since mid November. Overall there were 9 sales of the base and/or Purple Parallel over Berrios in that time frame, while the /5 card count Inception Origin card sold for only $26.88.
Honestly it feels like those of us who have bought low on Berrios are in for a great deal by the time all is said and done!
Right now on COMC, there are only a few listings for this card.
- Base - 2 listed for $4.24 and $4.50
- Purple Parallel (/150) - 1 listed for $9.99
I have to buy more credit on COMC before I can look at sales history again, sadly. Hopefully I can set aside some money to do that in the very near future. I am down to just a few cards left to finish the 2013 set, but only one is available on COMC for an acceptable price!
In the end, Jose Berrios is another Inception prospect that I really believe will be big time. His track record proves that he always rises to the occasion, even if the beginning is bumpy or ugly. And yes, last year was very ugly for him in the Majors. I am very excited to watch him this year; to see if he earns a spot out of the gate or if he will work himself into a spot once the season has started. Either way, it should be fun to watch!