Monday, January 26, 2015

A Notch Down

There are so going to be a lot of new faces next season on the Rays, which means I am also going to see a lot of change with my local team the Durham Bulls.  The biggest change will be the switch in managers after Charlie Montoyo, who managed the team for eight seasons, left the Bulls to become the new third base coach for the Rays.  Last week the Bulls named Jared Sandberg as their new manager.  Bulls fans rightly seem excited about their new leader as he has shown great skill in working with some of the Rays lower minor league teams.

With the big league roster, and the Triple A roster, somewhat of a toss up at this point I have decided to go down a notch or two in the Rays system to find a player to collect this off season.  I decided to work a little bit on last year's Rays Minor League Player of the Year Winner Johnny Field.  I actually saw Johnny Field a few years back while he was playing here for USA Baseball.

Field attended the University of Arizona and was on the College All-Star team.  While playing for the Wildcats he helped lead the team to the 2012 College World Series Championship.  Honestly, at the time Field did not stand out for me on that team which also featured Carlos Rodon, Trea Turner, Marco Gonzales, and some guy named Kris Bryant.  Pretty impressive group of players.

Last year in two stops, Bowling Green and Port Charlotte, Field hit .300/.376/.488 with 12 home runs, 8 triples, and 36 doubles.  Seems a safe bet that Field will reach the Durham Bulls sooner than later, so we are to the point where I am out looking for his cards.  I added one back in November, but picked up two more in the last month.

My two latest adds are both USA Baseball cards.....

First up is this autograph from the 2013 Panini USA Baseball set.  Kind of an interesting card since it is a rehash of the Certified Brand which was made by Pinnacle in the late 1990s.  It was actually a Leaf product at some point in the early 2000s, but Pinnacle went bankrupt and obviously someone owns the rights to all of the old products even if it is two different companies now.  The card is limited to just 299 copies, and while it is a sticker autograph, it is really well done.  

This last card is from the 2012 edition of Panini's USA Baseball autographs which were released within the Prime Cuts set.  While the Prime Cuts set was a bit of a disappointment, the USA Baseball autographs were incredible.  Pretty simple design with the player standing in front of a flag, not Rex-Kwon-Do in face flag, but a flag with an on-card signature.  Lots of other good players in this set besides Johnny Field.  

Both Field autographs were very affordable, but there are still several other autographs of this Rays Minor League Player of the Year that I would love to add to my collection.  Most of them are USA Baseball autographs, but hopefully Topps will put a few of his autographs in the 2015 products.  At least give me one in Bowman or Topps Pro Debut.  

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