I have almost lived in the Raleigh-Durham area for ten years. Just a little short. I have had the chance to see some really good baseball talent pass through the area during that time, but one of the real standouts was Rays outfield prospect Delmon Young. You heard me right, Delmon Young.
Most collectors and baseball fans do not associate Delmon with being quality, but he was the number one overall pick in the 2003 amateur draft and was consistently at or near the top of the Baseball America rankings for much of his minor league career which concluded in Durham with the Bulls. Delmon played two half seasons in Durham and showed good pop with the bat, but he had some trouble taking pitches. There was also this episode......
Delmon made it to the Bigs and spent time with the Rays, Twins, Tigers, Phillies, and returned to the Rays last year. He asked to skip a minor league stop in Durham. Hmmm. Despite all that has happened to Delmon over the years I still kind of pull for him. It's hard to be a really high draft pick and then turn out to be just a serviceable Major League player. What would have been a good performance out of Delmon? I am not sure, but sadly I see the same thing happening to Tim Beckham.
Delmon did make it back to Tampa last summer and still had a few good swings in his bat.
This spring Delmon is auditioning with the Orioles, but still shows signs of being the same old Delmon. So far in 42 at-bats Delmon has 0 walks and 10 strikeouts. Classic Delmon. I would really love to see Delmon continue his baseball career, but have a feeling we are nearing the end. Seriously, I am not sure how he can make the team.
One of the positives that can result from a player not living up to their potential is the inevitable fall in the price of their baseball cards. Delmon was a high dollar player/prospect from the time he was drafted until 2007ish. Rookie autographs were often north of $100 and were highly desired and popular. I did not buy any because it's a $100 card of Delmon Young. If I had an extra $100 back then perhaps I would have taken the plunge, but I am glad I did not.
Now, it's fun to sit back some days and pick up Delmon cards from his high end era for a fraction of their value at their peak. I actually managed to pick up two cheap Delmon cards this months. One of the cards was purchased for less than $10 and the other was a throw-in to finish a trade. Ten years ago this would have been $200 most likely.
I especially like the bottom Bowman Xfractor which is numbered out of just 250. Really cool card back in the day and I would like to think it's still a pretty cool card. With the way the hobby works there are plenty of other players whose cards are in the same boat as Delmon. Brien Taylor and Mark Prior are two names that pop up quickly in my mind, but I am sure every card collector could name a few. Anybody remember the Joe McEwing craze in 1999?