Monday, December 12, 2016

Minor League Cards from Brady

I spent some time over the weekend putting away all the inserts from Brady's priority box.  It was nice to file away a huge stack of cards, but that was only a small dent in the pile.  I decided to tackle a smaller part of the package and highlight the minor league cards.

 I had no idea TCMA made minor league cards in 1978.  I have a few TCMA Cardinals from the late 1970s, but all of them were color shots.  I guess the minor league guys get second dibs from the card companies just like in real life.

Fast forward to 1990 and most minor league teams had some type of cards being produced.  ProCards and CMC produced massive sized sets back then.  The CMC set was 880 cards while the ProCards Triple A set was 700.  Ken Hill and Bernard Gilkey both had productive careers, but I cannot say I have ever heard of Roger Erikson.

The borders on these 1991 Classic cards are just down right horrible.  Makes me think of a piece of marble more than a baseball card.  I have heard of all these players.  Watson and Young both played a handful of seasons for some bad Cardinals teams in the early 1990s.  Brian Barber was a 1991 first round draft pick who appeared in 10 games in 1995 and 1996.  He was part of a Cardinals draft history in the 1990s that should be forgotten.  St. Louis had a thing for high school pitchers that never panned out.

Classic produced a number of minor leage sets in 1992.  Draft Picks highlighted more players who never produced for the Cardinals.  Classic Best at least had a handful of players like Young who reached the Majors.  He played 2 season in St. Louis before losing his first base job to Mark McGwire.

Classic add a 4 Sport brand in 1993.  Alan Benes is one of the few minor leaguers in the 1990s who made an impact for the Cardinals, but his career was short lived due to arm problems.  The Classic Best set reminds me of 1993 Fleer with the all gray borders. 

I like the full bleed photos of 1994 Classic Best Gold, but the player name is very hard to read.  That is Jason Hisey printed in gold over Cardinals if you could not tell.  No wonder the company did not last long with designs like this.

I am not for sure if Classic changed its name to Best in 1995, or if Best is a different company.  At least the card design is better.  Wagner was a 1994 first round pick who never reached the Majors.

Jumping ahead to 1999, Team Best produced cards.  Once again I am uncertain if this was the same company as Classic or Best, but the player still was less than uneventful.  Hutchinson appeared in 3 games for the Cardinals in 2001, 6 games less than he would start for the Cowboys in the NFL in 2002.  Just came into the minor league marker with a small 150 card set.  Most Cardinals fans know the Rick Ankiel story by now. 

SP Top Prospects chose to go back in time with its 2000 Ankiel card.  He made his MLB debut in 1999.  He is pictured as a member of the 1997 Triple A Memphis Redbirds.

MultiAd Sports created quite a few minor league team sets that were stadium give aways.  I am guessing that is what these 2004 and 2005 Jimmy Journell cards are.  He appeared in 12 games for the Cardinals in between 2003 and 2005 before he was out of baseball.

2006 Justifialbe highlighted the so called top prospects of each team.  In the early 2000s, the Cardinals changed their draft strategy from high school pitchers to players who were athletic.  Being athletic did not help Daryl Jones.  He played in the Cardinals minors for 6 seasons before being traded to the Reds in 2012.  I do not think he ever played in the Majors.

Finally in 2007 we saw some players that actually helped the Cardinals win.  Just Minors included future 2011 World Series champs Jon Jay and Jaime Garcia, both former Cardinals now but still in the big leagues.  Tristar produced 3 different minor league sets in 2007.  Overkill if you ask me. 

2008 was the first Elite Extra Edition set.  The quality of the card design has gotten a lot better since then.  Peterson is still bouncing around in the Brewers system.  His Cardinals claim to fame is being part of the Matt Holliday trade with Oakland.  Vasquez topped out in Double A.  Last I heard he was playing independent ball in nearby Marion, IL.

Elite added a little more to their design in 2009, but still lacked color other than the player's uniform.  Ryan Jackson played a handful of games for the Cardinals in 2012 before being placed on waivers in 2013.  I think he is still bouncing around Triple A with the Angels.

2010 Elite produced an insert set called School Colors that showcase minor league players in their college uniforms.  Swagerty is more famous for having a card with a Magic Johnson sticker auto on it than for playing baseball.  Cox is one of the few recent #1 picks that did not work out for the Cardinals.  He was their first round pick in 2010, but struggled to reach Triple A before he was traded to the Marlins in 2012 for Edward Mujica.

Elite did well with the 2011 Elite Series inserts.  I love the wood grain look on cards.  Tilson was traded at this year's trade deadline to the White Sox for Zack Duke.  He would make his MLB debut on August 2.  He managed to collect a hit before he tore his hamstring and miss the rest of the season.  I guess it is poetic justice that Duke will miss the 2017 season with TJ surgery.

 Last but not least is 2012 Elite.  Colored borders were added that spiced up the card somewhat.  Melchionda only played one season in the minors before retiring for reasons I do not know.  At least he was only a 12th round choice.

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