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Mets Autograph of the Week: Mike Nickeas

 

Signed 2011 Topps Mike Nickeas card from my collection

Mike Nickeas made his major league debut last September, six years after the Texas Rangers chose him in the fifth round of the 2004 amateur draft.

Nickeas was born in Vancouver, Canada, while his father was playing for the Vancouver Whitecaps of the North American Soccer League. He grew up in California, graduating from Westlake High School in Westlake Village.

The Rangers dealt Nickeas to the Mets in the summer of 2006 for outfielder Victor Diaz, who had been compared to Manny Ramirez. (Diaz never lived up to those lofty expectations, though perhaps Chicago Cubs fans might disagree.)

Nickeas spent four years in the minors for the Mets before earning a September callup last year to provide some catching depth. He made his major league debut on Sept. 4th, catching Jenrry Mejia in his first major league start. He came on as a defensive replacement two days later, but didn’t really get another shot until the last week of the season.

Jerry Manuel started Nickeas in the first game of a doubleheader against the Milwaukee Brewers on Sept. 29th. He got his first major league hit – a single back up the middle – against Yovani Gallardo in the second inning of the game. Nickeas went 2-for-4 before coming out of the game in a double switch. He appeared in two more games, finishing the season with a .200 batting average.

This year, Nickeas made the Opening Day roster because off-season acquisition Ronny Paulino had to finish serving a suspension for failing a performance-enhancing drug test. Although he was only supposed to stay in the big leagues for a week or so, Nickeas got to stick around for the whole month of April while Paulino got ready to start the season.

Nickeas got his first major league runs batted in with a 2 RBI double off Rockies pitcher Jorge De La Rosa on April 14th. A week later, he hit his first major league home run off of Astros pitcher J.A. Happ.

In Buffalo, Nickeas was hitting .215 with 1 home run and 7 RBI in 35 games as of Sunday.

Topps included Nickeas in two sets so far this year. He shares a Topps Heritage card with three other rookie catchers, and he’s got a card all to himself in Topps Series II. I sent a copy of the latter card to Nickeas last month and got it back signed about ten days later.

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