Recapping My 2016 MiLB Season

Last year I did a post at the end of the 16 games I spent out at a baseball park recapping my 2015 MiLB season. With the 2016 MiLB season now over for me, I wanted to once again post an overview of the games and of the autographs I received this year. In all, I managed to make it to thirteen baseball games this season. It was a great year, full of fun, and I thought I’d take the time to recap it all:

April 19th — Salem Red Sox Vs. Carolina Mudcats

Game one of the year turned out to be a rather good one. Before the game, I was able to get Rafael Devers and Joe Oliver to sign a couple of cards, as well as Andrew Benintendi (he amazed everyone and actually signed cards — something he claimed to never do) and Angel Berroa, who both signed a card apiece. The big miss on the day was Yoan Moncada, who ignored everyone. But I had already gotten him last season, so I wasn’t overly disappointed. After the game — which lasted 12 innings, and ran roughly four hours — I was able to get Braves top prospect, Dansby Swanson, to sign a 4×6 photo, in addition to a card:

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April 24th — Indianapolis Indians Vs. Durham Bulls

Following a good night five days earlier at the Mudcats, I was really looking forward to this game. I was able to get Mel Rojas Jr., Trevor Williams and Tyler Glasnow to sign a card before the game, in addition to Cory Luebke signing two cards. After the game, I ventured outside and picked up Jameson Taillon and Cole Figueroa on a couple of cards each, with Josh Bell signing one card after coming back from buying pizza. The biggest misses on the day were Jung-Ho Kang, who was rehabbing but didn’t sign for anyone, as well as Alen Hanson. But overall, it was a good evening for autographs:

DSCN7808May 12th — Buffalo Bisons Vs. Durham Bulls

I wasn’t sure how great this game was going to wind up, originally. The Bisons didn’t have a single one of the Blue Jays’ top 30 prospects heading into this game, yet I headed out to the ballpark anyhow. Things turned out to go amazingly; so good that I have to put it in two separate pictures. Before the game, I received three autographs from former Red Sox pitcher Bob Stanley, and two from Pat Venditte, David Aardsma, Fausto Carmona (now named Roberto Hernandez) and Alexi Casilla:

DSCN7809Then, after the game, I was able to do just as good as pregame, getting Matt Dominguez and Tony Sanchez to sign a card, with Domonic Brown, Jesus Montero and Drew Hutchinson all signing a handful:

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May 16th — Lynchburg Hillcats Vs. Carolina Mudcats

There weren’t a ton of top prospects on this team, with the main two players being Bobby Bradley and Justus Sheffield. Due to Sheffield starting the game, I was only able to get Bradley, Dorssys Paulino (on three cards) and Anthony Santander before the game. But after the game, Justus Sheffield was nice enough to sign a card, as well as Yu-Cheng Chang on a 4×6 photo:

DSCN7811May 31st — Scranton Wilkes-Barre Railriders Vs. Durham Bulls

I didn’t do all that well inside before the game, getting just Aaron Judge and Chris Parmelee (on two cards), but outside allowed me to redeem myself. There were probably around 50 people waiting around for Nick Swisher, who has always been a fan favorite — and Swisher didn’t disappoint. He stuck around for nearly ten minutes, signing autographs for everyone who wanted one, taking pictures, and simply being himself and joking around with the crowd. It was an awesome experience. After getting Swisher on two cards, I also obtained Cesar Puello and Jake Cave on a card, as well as Ben Gamel on a 4×6 photo:

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June 3rd — Gwinnett Braves Vs. Durham Bulls

The original plan for this game was to get the few autographs I needed from the Bulls’ players before the game, and then get the many players I needed from Gwinnett outside after the game. However, things didn’t go as planned. I was able to get autos from the Bulls before the game like I wanted, but a two-hour rain delay in the second inning lead to the game starting back after 9:30. For that reason, I decided not to stick around for the game, which ended up concluding at 12:15 in the morning. Even so, I was able to get J.P. Arencibia and Daniel Robertson on a couple cards, as well as Jaff Decker and Adam Kolarek on a card each; in addition, I got Austin Pruitt on an old program, and Richie Shaffer on a 4×6 photo that I was hoping to get Blake Snell to sign as well, but was never able to due to his callup to the Rays:

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June 26th — Lehigh Valley Ironpigs Vs. Durham Bulls

I had been looking forward to this game since last season, when the Phillies had so many top prospects in Double-A that I assumed would make the jump up to Triple-A in 2016. I wound up seeing the Phillies’ top three prospects (all in the top 100) on the team. I obtained three autographs from Jake Thompson, two autographs each from Nick Williams, J.P. Crawford and Ben Lively, as well as an auto from David Buchanan, James Russell, Darnell Sweeney, Emmanuel Burriss and Darin Ruf. So, all-in-all, everything went very well, despite missing out on a few key players such as Andrew Knapp and Edward Mujica due to a combination of bad luck and mental errors:

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July 6th — Syracuse Chiefs Vs. Durham Bulls

Trea Turner was the obvious standout of this game, sitting as the number nine overall prospect at the time. Before the game, I wasn’t able to get Turner, but instead got A.J. Cole (he surprisingly signed, despite being the starting pitcher), Matt Skole and Michael Taylor (on a couple cards), who had just been sent down. After the game, I was successful in getting Trea Turner to sign a card outside, along with Pedro Severino, and Austin Voth on a 4×6 photo:

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July 25th — Durham Bulls Vs. Toledo Mud Hens

I was most looking forward to seeing Steven Moya at this game, who I saw last year but wasn’t able to get. However, he didn’t sign before the game. Instead, I began the day by snagging former Cubs’ pitcher Jeff Pico on a few cards, and proceeded to get Dean Green on a 4×6 photo, as well as Dixon Machado and Casey McGehee on two a piece, with Jacoby Jones, Argenis Diaz and Jordan Valdespin each signing one for me. Then, outside after the game, I got Bobby Parnell, John Hicks and Steven Moya (finally) on two cards:

DSCN7819August 2nd — Carolina Mudcats Vs. Winston Salem Dash

There was really no pressing reason for me to attend this game, other than the fact that I hadn’t been to a Mudcats game in around three months, and I was missing it. (And, of course, I knew it would be my last game there of 2016.) Even so, I made the most of it, getting autographs from 2016 first-round draft pick Zack Collins, as well as Telvin Nash, Jose Bautista (not THAT Jose) on three, Brett Austin on a card, and Jordan Stephens on a photo. After the game, I got Travis Demeritte on a couple cards, Braxton Davidson on a card and Sal Giardina on the program for the night:

DSCN7820August 7th — Gwinnett Braves Vs. Durham Bulls

I had already seen Gwinnett once this season, but I was trying for autographs from the Bulls players at that time. This time around, I was solely going for Gwinnett, as they still had a great team. I ended up doing fantastic, getting Omar Infante, Matt Lipka, Rio Ruiz, Aaron Blair, Rob Wooten, Jason Hursh and John Gant before the game:

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Then, after getting Ryne Stanek following the final out, I ventured outside and obtained a signature or two from Matt Wisler, Michael McKenry, Reid Brignac, Chris Ellis, Matt Duffy (on the blank-auto card), Curt Casali, Eury Perez and another from Rio Ruiz:

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August 19th — Norfolk Tides Vs. Durham Bulls

I don’t really have that much to say about this game. My mind wasn’t completely in it, and it still bugs me. For that reason, I only got five autographs, from Christian Walker, Trey Mancini, Andy Oliver, Pedro Beato and L.J. Hoes. The end.

DSCN7823August 29th — Columbus Clippers Vs. Durham Bulls

I wanted to end the season with a bang (especially after doing so poorly at the last game), and I did just that. Before the game, I was able to get Steve Karsay, Bradley Zimmer, Ronny Rodriguez, Collin Cowgill, Ryan Merritt, Michael Choice and Erik Gonzalez on a varying number of cards. Then, after getting Jake Hager and Casey Gillaspie immediately following the game, I went outside and picked up an autograph from Cody Anderson, Giovanny Urshela and Yandy Diaz, on a 4×6 photo:

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By the Numbers

Though you could take the time for yourself to add it all up, I figured I’d make things a bit easier. Here’s a numbers recap of my 2016 MiLB season:

Games attended: 13

Win-loss record for the home team: 7-6

Total runs scored (Home Team-Visitor): 53-40

Top 100 prospects seen in person: 16

Autographs from top 100 prospects: 13

Total autographs: 156

Total miles traveled to & from games: 1,240

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2014 Players’ Choice Awards

The 2014 Major League Baseball Players’ Choice Award winners were announced last night on MLB Network. Unlike the BBWAA awards, these awards, as the name would suggest, are voted on by players from around baseball each September, when they receive a ballot to make their picks for each category. Six categories in all, American League players vote for American League players with National League players voting for National League players, with the exception of the Marvin Miller Man of the Year award and the Player of the Year award, in which players from both leagues vote for a single player.

The winning player for each category is awarded a grant from the MLB Players Trust, ranging from 20,000 to 50,000 dollars, depending on the award that they win. The money goes to the winner’s choice of charity, with some players deciding to split up the money between multiple causes. This marks the 22nd annual Players Choice Awards, which began in 1992. Here’s a recap of the winners, with my thoughts on each:

OUTSTANDING ROOKIE AWARD ($20,000)

AL Nominees – Jose Abreu, Matt Shoemaker and Danny Santana

AL Winner – Jose Abreu

NL Nominees – Billy Hamilton, Jacob deGrom and David Peralta

NL Winner – Jacob deGrom

Although I feel that Dellin Betances should’ve been one of the American League nominees for Outstanding Rookie after the great season he had, I can’t argue at all with the winner. Jose Abreu had an unbelievable inaugural season, hitting 36 homers with the White Sox, and will likely be a big part of their future in the many years to come. On the National League side of the award, it came down to Billy Hamilton and Jacob deGrom for me. But although it was a close call, Hamilton hitting around .250 earns deGrom the award.

OUTSTANDING PITCHER AWARD ($20,000)

AL Nominees – Felix Hernandez, Corey Kluber and Chris Sale

AL Winner – Felix Hernandez

NL Nominees – Johnny Cueto, Clayton Kershaw and Adam Wainwright

NL Winner – Clayton Kershaw

All three American League nominees had incredible seasons worthy of recognition, but Felix Hernandez had the best statistical season of them all. Posting a career high 15 wins and a career low 2.14 ERA, Hernandez was the obvious choice. As was Clayton Kershaw. Taking home the Outstanding Pitcher award for the National League, Kershaw had a historic season with a miniscule 1.77 ERA, and there was no way that he wasn’t going to win this award.

COMEBACK PLAYER OF THE YEAR AWARD ($20,000)

AL Nominees – J.D. Martinez, Victor Martinez and Chris Young

AL Winner – Chris Young

NL Nominees – Tim Hudson, Casey McGehee and Edinson Volquez

NL Winner – Casey McGehee

Obviously the one award that a player least wants to receive, meaning that they bounced back from years of injuries or poor performance. (But the important aspect, I suppose, is that the player did in fact bounce back.) Winning the Comeback Player of the Year award for the American League was Chris Young (the pitcher, not the outfielder) along with Casey McGehee for the National League. Both players had tremendous 2014 campaigns, coming off recent struggles on both their parts.

OUTSTANDING PLAYER AWARD ($20,000)

AL Nominees – Mike Trout, Jose Altuve and Victor Martinez

AL Winner – Mike Trout

NL Nominees – Josh Harrison, Clayton Kershaw and Giancarlo Stanton

NL Winner – Giancarlo Stanton

Seemingly getting better and better each year, with plans to get even better in 2015, Mike Trout was the players’ choice for Outstanding American League player of the year. Scoring over 100 runs for the third straight season, and breaking the 30 homer mark for the first time in his young career, Trout could be taking this award home for many years. For the National League, Giancarlo Stanton received the honor. Despite an injury which cut his season short, players agreed that Stanton, with his incredible display of power, is the rightful winner.

MARVIN MILLER MAN OF THE YEAR AWARD ($50,000)

Nominees – Clayton Kershaw, Adam LaRoche and Anthony Rizzo

Winner – Clayton Kershaw

The Marvin Miller Man of the Year Award is given each year to the player most recognized for outstanding on-field performance and off-field contributions to his community. Past winners include Mark McGwire, Albert Pujols, Chipper Jones and Mariano Rivera, among many others. This year, the award went to Clayton Kershaw, whose ‘Kershaw’s Challenge’ looks “to encourage people to use whatever God-given passion or talent they have to make a difference and give back to people in need”. Combine Kershaw’s community contributions with his 2014 stats, and he definitely is the top choice for the prestigious award.

PLAYER OF THE YEAR AWARD ($50,000)

Nominees – Clayton Kershaw, Giancarlo Stanton and Mike Trout

Winner – Clayton Kershaw

Taking home his third award of the night, and bringing the total amount of money donated by the MLB Players Trust to $120,000, Clayton Kershaw takes dominance of award winning to a new level. Going 21-3 with a 1.77 ERA over the course of the season, Kershaw likely is just getting started. With the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) awards being given out next week, it’s almost certain that Kershaw will take home the National League Cy Young award — with many putting him in line to win the NL MVP as well.