The holiday season always seems to be the time for some baseball players to catch up with their fan mail. (As someone who was still sending out Christmas cards this week, that never fails to amaze me.)
Earlier this month, I sent out autograph requests to about 40 major league and minor league players in care of their team’s spring training camps.
Today, I got my first two signed cards back in the mail.
Eddie Butler is one of the top five prospects in the Colorado Rockies’ minor league system. The soon-to-be 24-year-old right-hander made his major league debut last season with mixed results. With luck, he will overcome the difficulty of pitching more than half of his games in hitters’ parks and have a good career.
Nick Tepesch is a 26-year-old right-handed pitcher for the Texas Rangers. He’s struggled over the past two seasons, but has shown promise at times.
Last month, I asked you to help me organize my baseball cards by making trades that let me clear out some of my unneeded ones. Gary sent me a pair of autographed cards in exchange for a stack of Oakland Athletics.
Gene Clines spent 10 years in the major leagues, but his playing career was before my time. He is probably best remembered for his time in Pittsburgh, where he won a World Series ring in 1971. Clines also played for the Cubs and Texas Rangers in addition to the Mets. In 1979, Clines retired as a player and immediately became the Cubs’ first base coach. He’s remained in baseball since then, taking coaching jobs and front office positions with the Astros, Mariners, Brewers, Giants and Dodgers.
Jamey Carroll spent parts of 14 seasons in the major leagues despite not making his major league debut until the age of 28. Carroll started at second base in the Montreal Expos’ last game in 2004 and was part of the original Washington Nationals team in 2005. He also played for the Colorado Rockies, Cleveland, the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Minnesota Twins and the Kansas City Royals. Carroll went to spring training with the Nationals this year, but did not make the team.
We’re in the middle of the annual period where minor league baseball teams can change which major league organization they are affiliated with if their agreements have expired. This year, there seems to be a bit more activity than usual.
You can read Josh Levanthal‘s rundown of all the changes at Baseball America, but I’m just going highlight the changes that might be of interest to us in the New Jersey area.
The Colorado Rockies signed a two-year Player Development with the New Britain (Conn.) Rock Cats of the Double-A Eastern League. New Britain had been affiliated with the Minnesota Twins for the past 20 years. The Rockies had their original Double-A affiliate in the Eastern League, the New Haven Ravens, from 1994-98. (New Britain visits Trenton for a four-game series Aug. 31 – Sept. 3, 2015)