Tag Archives: Best

I Was a Teenage Prospector: Frank Thomas

Thomas Minors

1990 Best

Frank was one of those guys that looked amazing right out of the gate, as soon as he was drafted, and put his cards pretty much out of reach until the scope of the early 90s overproduction became apparent. That’s part of why I treasured this Best card so much, even back then: so many people had Thomas’ 1990 Score and Topps, fewer had the Leaf, but I never saw this card in anyone else’s collection. I can’t remember exactly where I found packs of these cards, but I know that we found about half a box and, owing to the rarity, I convinced my parents to scoop up all the remaining cards.

The packs also contained some future stars such as Bernie Williams, Javy Lopez, and Luis Gonzalez, among others that I thought would be future stars at the time. The cards seem simplistic, but I think they’re actually pretty nice. Full-bleed shots were unheard of at the time, and while the font is a little low-rent and cheesy, it’s about what you would expect for that time. Better minor league cards were coming, and soon, but for now, this offered what I thought was an underrated look at an undiscovered country: the world of minor league baseball, which still fascinates me to this day.

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Expos and Nationals All-Bust Teams 3: The Showdown – Infield

Okay, so I had to figure out a way to weight these players against each other, given that the older players had more of a chance to pick up some WAR in the majors. So I decided that taking the overall minor league numbers and putting them through a major league equivalency converter would be the best answer. So, let’s take a look…


Thomas Pittman Vs. Larry Broadway

Pittman Mle numbers (best season): 12 hr, .195 BA, .216 OBP, .302 SLG

Broadway Mle Numbers (best season): 11 hr, .194 BA, .253 OBP, .320 SLG

I’m surprised it was as close as it was. The HR and BA are virtually identical, but Broadway has a slight edge in OBP and SLG. Even more interesting is that both of their best seasons were played in the Sally league. So Broadway wins…but it’s not a clear-cut victory.


Larry Broadway


Henry Mateo Vs. Seth Bynum

Mateo Mle numbers (best season): 3 hr, .209 BA, .245 OBP, .272 SLG

Bynum Mle Numbers (best season): 15 hr, .189 BA, .234 OBP, .325 SLG

Whew. That’s almost a push. Bynum has the advantage in power, but falters greatly when it comes to the batting average and OBP. I’m going to give Mateo the slight edge for his speed and stolen bases.


Henry Mateo


Hiram Bocachica Vs. Esmailyn Gonzalez/Carlos Lugo

Bocachica Mle numbers (best season): 14 hr, .263 BA, .331 OBP, .453 SLG

Gonzalez/Lugo Mle Numbers (best season): 2 hr, .228 BA, .275 OBP, .302 SLG

Easy victory.


Hiram Bocachica


Boi Rodriguez vs. Jake Smolinski

Rodriguez Mle numbers (best season): 8 hr, .187 BA, .239 OBP, .307 SLG

Smolinski Mle Numbers (best season): 4 hr, .188 BA, .241 OBP, .280 SLG

Wow, they’re pretty close to the same player, but Rodriguez had a little more power, so he gets the nod.


Boi Rodriguez

So, let’s look at how our combined team’s infield is shaping up:

  • 1B: Larry Broadway
  • 2B: Henry Mateo
  • SS: Hiram Bocachica
  • 3B: Boi Rodriguez

The Expos are solidly beating the Nationals so far in the infield. Tomorrow we’ll examine how the outfielders and catchers stack up.

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Expos and Nationals All-Bust Teams 1: All-Failure Expos

This is an idea that’s been kicking around in the back of my head for awhile, and, as I’ve now reached the 500th post, I thought it was time to do something special.

My plan is to separate the two eras, as it wasn’t fair to either team to lump them together. Entry 1 is the Expos; Entry 2 the Nationals; Entry 3 a Battle Royale determining who is the “better” (worse) failed prospect. When that’s done, I’m going to try to acquire some of these key rookie cards that I don’t already have.

The guidelines for this battle:

  • Player must have either been a hyped player or selected in the first three rounds.
  • Not going for a full 25-man staff. Five starting pitchers, but max three relievers. They’re already kind of failed prospects in some respect as most are converted starters.
  • I don’t have to own the key cards (yet). In fact, some may not be available. But I will make an effort to obtain them.

Without further ado…

  • 1B: Thomas Pittman – A Supplemental first rounder in 1997, Pittman was a high school first baseman who started with a .152/.264/.196 line in rookie ball and never progressed past High A. His career ended in 2001 with a .244/.301/.373 line. Yuck. Key Card: 1996 Roox Prep Stars. I was unable to find a picture of Pittman, so here’s a sample Roox Prep Star card.

  • 2B: Henry Mateo – He was seen as the heir apparent at 2B in Montreal behind Jose Vidro. I don’t think he was ever seen as a phenom or anything like that, but the thought was that he would be a serviceable middle infield guy, and it didn’t pan out. Not a giant disappointment like some of these other guys, just a mild blip. Key Card: 2004 Upper Deck pro Sigs auto

  • SS: Hiram Bocachica – Boy, did this guy have high hopes behind him. I’ve already covered him. Key Card: 1997 Bowman Chrome.

  • 3B: Boi Rodriguez – My description of Rodriguez when I reviewed 1990 Best: “Boi Rodriguez was someone who could do a convincing impersonation of a prospect, but never really hit enough to get a cup of coffee in the majors. It also didn’t help that as a corner infielder he never slugged above .446 in full-time action.” Key Card: going with the 1990 Best card here.

  • C: Nelson Santovenia – Hard to believe, but this guy was a touted prospect at one point. I always thought of him as a guy who took up space in my junk wax packs, but he was a highly drafted catcher that just never lived up to the space Gary Carter left. Key Card: 1991 Topps Desert Shield

  • OF: Glenn Murray – Another guy I’ve already talked about. Key Card: 1995 Signature Rookies Auto

  • OF: Chris Schwab – Chris was the very first failed prospect covered on NatsTown! You can view his story here. Key Card: 1994 Bowman

  • OF: Josh McKinley – Another one I’ve already covered: “McKinley was the Expos’ first choice in the 1998 draft, so big things were expected of the guy. It seems he was a pretty well-regarded amateur player who played with Austin Kearns and Michael Cuddyer in the 1997 World Junior Championships. Unfortunately, it seems that he couldn’t hit in the minors. At all. His highest OPS was a SLG-heavy .834 in 2003.” Key Card: 2004-05 USA Baseball National Team Alumni Sig

  • SP: Clint Everts –Everts was picked in the 2002 draft ahead of Prince Fielder, Scott Kazmir, Nick Swisher, Zack Grienke, Cole Hamels, and Matt Cain, just to name a few. To this day he has not made the major leagues. He’s still 25, so I’m sure it will happen eventually, but he amply demonstrates the risks of picking a high school pitcher so high. Key Card – 2003 Topps Blue Chips Autographs

  • SP: Tavo Alvarez – Already covered him as Failed Prospect #6. Key card- Tough choice. Nothing really stands out; ended up going with his 1993 Fleer Ultra.

  • SP: BJ WallaceFailed Prospect #17. Not sure if he was a bad choice or bad luck. Key Card- 1993 Bowman

  • SP: Josh Girdley – The failed prospect so nice, I’ve featured him twice, once as a Failed Prospect, and once as an autograph. Key Card – 1999 Topps Traded Autograph

  • RP: Don Levinski – I never even realized Don was an Expos prospect; I remember him as an Orioles relief prospect in 2004, but sure enough, he was a 2001 second-rounder who got dealt first to the Marlins, then the Orioles. I only ever had one card of him, but I saw him pitch for Frederick in 2004 during what would be the beginning of the end of his career. Key Card – 2004 Bowman’s Best auto

  • RP: Nate Minchey Failed Prospect #11. He did at least make the majors for awhile, I suppose. Key card – 1988 O-Pee-Chee Draft

So that’s our all-failure Expos team. Let’s recap:

  1. 1B – Thomas Pittman (Never made majors) Career WAR: 0.0
  2. 2B- Henry Mateo (Made majors as Expo) Career WAR: -0.7
  3. SS- Hiram Bocachica (Made majors as Dodger) Career WAR: -1.1
  4. 3B – Boi Rodriguez (Never made majors) Career WAR: 0.0
  5. C – Nelson Santovenia (Made majors as Expo) Career WAR: 0.8
  6. OF – Glenn Murray (Made majors as Phillie) Career WAR: -0.6
  7. OF – Chris Schwab (Never made majors) Career WAR: 0.0
  8. OF – Josh McKinley (Never made majors) Career WAR: 0.0
  9. SP – Clint Everts (Never made majors) Career WAR: 0.0
  10. SP – Tavo Alvarez (Made majors as Expo) Career WAR: -0.3
  11. SP – BJ Wallace (Never made majors) Career WAR: 0.0
  12. SP – Josh Girdley (Never made majors) Career WAR: 0.0
  13. RP – Don Levinski (Never made majors) Career WAR: 0.0
  14. RP – Nate Minchey (Made majors as Red Sox) Career WAR: -1.0

That’s right, Nelson Santovenia is the MVP of this sad squad. We’ll look at the Nationals soon.

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    Expos Auto: Everett Stull

    1996 Best Autographs

    1996 Best Autographs

    I’ve covered Stull as a failed prospect before, so I just wanted to show his auto here.

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    Michael Barrett: The Early Years

    I realized last night that I have a considerable collection of cards from Michael Barrett’s early career.

      1999 Team Best Autographs

    1999 Team Best Autographs

    1998 Arizona Fall League Prospects Gold

    1998 Arizona Fall League Prospects Gold

    1998 Bowman

    1998 Bowman

    1998 Bowman Chrome

    1998 Bowman Chrome

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    1990 Best Jacksonville #7/7


    Boi Rodriguez was someone who could do a convincing impersonation of a prospect, but never really hit enough to get a cup of coffee in the majors. It also didn’t help that as a corner infielder he never slugged above .446 in full-time action.


     Another member of the 90 Jacksonville team that never made the majors. Santana appears to have shown some promise in the lower levels of the minors, but fell apart as he progressed.


     Ah, a major-leaguer! Vander Wal was a serviceable but not great outfielder for quite some time, and made a dent with the Expos.


    And the final card of the set. Winston actually did make the majors in 1997 at age 30 with the Phillies. He ended up with 34 major league games and a 5+ ERA.

    Overall, a pretty fun little set, and definitely worth what I paid for it. It’s interesting to look back at these guys and see who made it and the paths they took to get there. I hope to pick up some more sets like these soon.

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    1990 Best Jacksonville #6/7


    Ah, yes. The classic knee pads and bats pose. I always wanted to see someone go to the plate like this, just to see what happened. Anyway, Bob Natal ended up sticking with the Marlins, playing five seasons for them as a mediocre backup catcher (is there any other kind?). In 1990, this kind of appeared to be his destiny, as he never hit for a particularly high average or had a high OBP.


    Penn was a flameout first baseman who was picked in the 8th round of the 1987 draft; what you see here represents the pinnacle of his career, as he was gone after 1990, having batted just .247 with a .687 OPS.


    Yorkis Perez is another player who eventually caught on with the Marlins after a short stint with the Cubs. As I recall, he was a mid-level prospect at the time more revered for his “stuff” than his numbers. But hey, he hung around in the majors in one form or another for 12 years, so he did something right.


    Hector never made the majors; this is also his apex, as he was done after this year. I’m not quite sure what happened to him, though, as he had a decent record and peripherals. Perhaps an injury long lost to the mists of time.

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    1990 Best Jacksonville Expos #5/7


    Jerry Manuel, current manager of the Mets. Guess he went a long way. Shame about the Mets this year…


    Edwin Marquez never made the majors….he was actually near the end of his rope careerwise when this picture was taken. He was finished in 1990.


    Omer Munoz is another career minor leaguer. He appears to have topped out later in his career, but never got so much as a cup of coffee.


    Chris Nabholz was a mid-level prospect when this card was issued, and of course he went on to have an okay ML career, nothing major, though. He stuck around in the majors for six years and went out with a winning record, though he also had a 97 ERA+.

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    1990 Best Jacksonville #4/7

    Okay, new format. No more obnoxious writeups. Let’s take a look at this chunk of the set…


    I had no idea Cesar Hernandez made the majors.  It looks like he didn’t have much of an impact, either.


    Bryn Kosco, on the other hand, never made the majors. He did mash some homers later in his career, but he didn’t appear to be very notable at all.


    Hah, I have no idea what’s happening in this picture, but Lewis did make the majors and had a slight impact.


    Wow, Bob Malloy comes from Arlington, Virginia. And he made absolutely no impact on the majors. Mediocre group today.

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    1990 Best Jacksonville #3


    1990 Jacksonville Expos Best #1
    Former Expo
    Position: Catcher
    Bio/Summary: Colbrunn was a huge Expos prospect at the time, and I would have died to have this card in 1990 rather than waiting for his later issues. He hit .301 with a .454 slugging in 1990, pointing toward the somewhat bright career he would have.
    Rating: 7/10 – It’s not that interesting a pose, but I’m absolutely fascinated by how dirty Colbrunn’s jersey and hat are here. What’s the story? Was this taken immediately after a game? If so, why not get a picture ingame? Either way, quite the intriguing picture. 
    1990 Jacksonville Expos Best #26
    Position: Coach
    Bio/Summary: Nardi only played one major league season, with the 1980 White Sox. I can’t find any information on his coaching career, so I’m guessing he never advanced to manager.
    Rating: 2/10 – I’m so ambivalent toward coach/manager cards. It’s sometimes interesting to see key managers who would go on to play a significant role, but most of the time they’re just this dreck. Who even cares?
    1990 Jacksonville Expos Best #5
    Former Expo
    Position: SS
    Bio/Summary: I’ve talked about this period of Cordero’s career a lot – so I’m going to give this one a pass.
    Rating: 6/10 –  Classic minor league card photography. Just a little too blurry and bright, but the kind of card I would have loved as a teenager.
    1990 Jacksonville Expos Best  #9
    Failed Prospect
    Position: OF
    Bio/Summary: Hansen has popped up a couple times recently, and I didn’t know much about him. He really wasn’t on my radar as a prospect in the day, which leads me to believe he was more organizational filler. He appears to have been able to hit for power, but couldn’t cut down on the strikeouts or get the average up. Oh, and he had an absymal walk rate: in 1993, the first year BR has walks for him, he had 18 walks to 103 strikeouts. Yeah. No wonder he didn’t make it.
    Rating: 4/10 –  Another one of those classic minor league shots, but you can’t see his face and the washout is just too much.

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