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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

2002 Just Minors Gold Set - Cards 1-5

2002 wasn't that long ago, was it? It is long enough to tell if a minor leaguer has made it or not. Since you demanded it, I'm going to open up this set and go over each of the prospects in groups of five. There are some other goodies in here too, I'll space them out to build suspense.

This set is very different from the regular 2002 Just Minors set. Along with the gold borders, each prospect's picture is done in artwork by Noah Stokes. Noah is an artist from Dalton, GA who does a lot of sports themed art. He's got a cool blog if you want to check it out! The backs are kind of plain, there's a very light copy of the picture on the front with a short paragraph about the prospect. not much to look at, but I'll scan a couple of backs if you want. It's a classy looking set and the base cards, two filler cards and three 'special' cards would look nice in 5 plastic sheets.

The plan for the next couple of weeks is to post the prospect's card and see if he has made the bigs and how successful he has been. Most of the players featured are top 10 prospects for their franchise. Some have panned out nicely, some have flopped and many have gone on to new teams. Let's begin at the beginning...

Willy was the Dodger's #7 prospect in 2002 according to the back. He was a free agent signing in 2000 for a whopping $1.4 million. That money got the Dodgers 69 games from Willy before shipping him off to Atlanta with Denys Baez for Wilson Betemit (who will pop up soon). The trade was pretty bad for everyone involved. Betamit was flipped to the Yankees for Scott Proctor. Baez signed with the Orioles and bombed. Aybar was productive in Betamit's super sub role in 2006, but was suspended in 2007 for substance abuse problems and missed the entire year. He was traded to the Rays in '08 for Jeff Ridgway and held down third until Evan Longoria was ready. He his a big homer in the seventh game of the ALDS, but in '09 he looks to be stuck on the Rays' bench. He will be 26 this year and could come into his own with an injury or a new start on another club.

Career MLB totals: 200 games, 15 homers, .271 average, 77 runs, 73 RBI, 101 OPS+

Berroa made his debut in 2001 but still had his rookie eligability in '02. Angel broke out in 2003 and won the Rookie of the Year award over Hideki Matsui by only 4 points. He never came close to matching that performance however and lost his job to Tony Pena Jr. in 2007. He was traded to the Dodgers in 2008 for Juan Rivera and was a below-average replacement for Rafael Furcal. He is currently in the Yankees organization on a minor league deal.

Career MLB totals: 711 games, 46 homers, .260 average, 319 runs, 251 RBI, 50 SB, 77 OPS+

Wilson is a little frustrating for me. He was the Braves #1 prospect, but was rushed into a cup of coffee at age 19 in 2001. He then languished in the minors looking nothing like the 5-tool prospect everyone was high on before reappearing in the bigs in 2004. He was effective as a bench player in 2005 and 2006 providing some needed Chipper Jones insurance, but was swapped to L.A. in the Baez/Aybar trade. He seems to have regressed somewhat in partial seasons with the Dodgers and Yankees, and still hasn't quite hit his stride. He was traded to the White Sox this offseason in the Nick Swisher trade, and has a shot to win a starting job in Spring Training. Wilson is no longer a prospect at 27 (maybe), and is facing some make or break seasons ahead.

Career MLB totals: 496 games, 42 homers, .260 average, 145 runs, 151 RBI, 95 OPS+

Hank is the first All-Star in the set, and had a memorable game as he bopped the winning homer off a worthless Eric Gagne who thought it would be fun to throw heat instead of actually pitch. Hey, now it counts! Hank made his debut for the Rangers in 2002, but came into his own as their starting third baseman in 2003. He had another excellent year in '04, but slumped badly in '05 and '06. The past two years he has once again been effective when healthy, but unfortunately that hasn't been very often. Hank will be looking for a comeback year in '09 as the Rangers' DH, as Michael Young is moving to third to accomodate rookie Elvis Andrus at short.

Career MLB totals: 787 games, 127 homers, .274 average, 437 runs, 469 RBI, 104 OPS+

Tony was ranked as Boston's #2 ranked prospect in 2002, but he has so far had the least success in the set. He was sent to the Reds in '02 as the player to be named later in the Todd Walker trade and was later picked up by the Nationals in the minor league draft. Tony played 56 games for the Nats in '05 but barely hit his weight and has not been above Double-A since. Tony played for the Tulsa Drillers last season and so far I have not been able to find out if he's got a job for '09 lined up yet.

Career MLB totals: 56 games, 1 homer, .177 average, 7 runs, 7 RBI, 30 OPS+


night owl said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one irked that Gagne went the "shock and awe" route in that All-Star Game.

I hadn't been so ticked off over an All-Star Game since Herzog left Hammaker in the game in '83.

steveisjewish said...

love this - can't wait to read the rest!