2017 TSR: An Immigrant, A Judge And Other Rookies

This might sound like the lead-in to a joke about the current US President, but I promise, it’s just a lead-in to the latest pack of 2017 TSR custom cards.

Since I wasn’t quite happy with how the first two batches of customs looked online, especially on phones, I’m trying a couple of tweaks to the design this time around.  These may end up sticking, or they may end up being “variations” that will be worth thousands and thousands of bitcoins someday.

Anyway, on to the first custom…

I’ve been aware of Gift Ngoepe for a couple of years because I’ve been telling a South African friend “Hey, there’s this guy in the Pirates’ system who’s from South Africa!”  She doesn’t care, but I’ve kept her updated anyway… and earlier this week, Gift Ngoepe made his debut with the Pirates.

Despite coming from a country where few play baseball, Gift literally grew up around the game;  that’s because his mother worked as a clubhouse attendant for a South African baseball team called the Randburg Mets, and they lived in the team’s clubhouse.

The first draft of this post had a custom of the Yankees’ 6’7″ Aaron Judge.  I wasn’t happy with the way the custom came out, but in that original draft I said “One of these days I’m going to find a good shot of him standing next to one of his teammates, and a combo card will ensue.”

Thanks to Brett Gardner’s 3-run homer yesterday, “One Of These Days” is today!

One of my goals for this year’s set is to have some combo cards which are more interesting than the typical Topps “two guys standing around first base waiting for the next pitch” combo.

Rookie Amir Garrett and the Reds were flying high for a while at the beginning of the season, but have since come down to Earth.

Garrett had a 1.83 ERA and 21 K’s in his first 3 starts before getting shelled by the Brewers in his 4th.

I’d heard about this Athletics pitcher Andrew Triggs who was, after his first three starts, 3-0 with a 0.00 ERA (and he pitched 7 shutout innings against Houston last night). I was thinking that his name sounded ever so vaguely familiar… and then I found out why. He spent 2015 with the Orioles’ AA team.

Because the Orioles have pitching coming out of their ears (sarcasm alert) and because the O’s can’t seem to acquire enough guys who have that valued combination of homers and strikeouts (even more sarcasm), they dropped Triggs off the 40-man to sign Pedro Alvarez. The A’s picked up Triggs on waivers, he split 2016 between Oakland and AAA Nashville and here he is in 2017, 4-1 with a 1.84 ERA and a 0.92 WHIP. Yes, he’s 28 years old so he’s not exactly a prospect, but stats like that would be vastly preferable to the “Which Ubaldo Jimenez is showing up today?” situation there is now.

I’m in my sixth year of posting customs, and one thing I’ve attempted every so often is a series I call “Dude need a card!”, with the general idea being to feature players who have been ignored by Topps and Panini. I’ve decided to revive the “Dude!” series with a focus on Mets and Orioles.

Mets catcher Rene Rivera is technically a backup, but he gets into his share of games because of his skills behind the plate, even if he doesn’t have offensive stats that impress.

Rivera is in his second year with the Mets and started last fall’s NL Wild Card game, but his only Mets cardboard appearance so far is in 2016 Topps Update.

The Oriole “Dude” is a little bit of a stretch, as he has appeared in the 2017 Topps retail Orioles team set and should appear in Topps Series 2, but given the paucity of cardboard since his MLB debut in 2015 I declare that Mychal Givens is a dude who needs a card.

Givens was a shortstop during his first three years in the Orioles organization, but was converted to a reliever and that was what got him to the Majors. This year, he’s pitched 12 innings in 10 appearances, is 3-0 with a 1.50 ERA, a 1.000 WHIP and has 11 strikeouts to just 3 walks.

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