Random autograph of the day: London Bradley

Drafted by the Cubs in 1992, one pick after pitcher Melvin Bunch and ahead of future Gold Glover Jose Cruz, Jr., Bradley spent all of three seasons and 102 games in their system before his career was over.

His 1993 campaign was solid, as he hit .301 in 49 games for the Single-A Peoria Chiefs, but beyond that, accomplishments were sparse. Considerable trouble was had in the field, as the third baseman posted a .847 fielding percentage his first campaign and a .884 mark overall. 

Random autograph of the day: Zach Duke

The career of Zach Duke was an interesting trek, one that started in his debut 2005 campaign and ran to 2019 (yes, astonishingly, he was still pitching).

He gave Pirates fans hope with his stupendous rookie campaign, going 8-2 with a 1.81 ERA in 14 starts; he finished 5th in Rookie of the Year voting, despite his truncated season. Those hopes were dashed by the next year, however, as he lost 15 games and led the league in hits allowed, then went 3-8 and 5-14 the next two campaigns, respectively.

In 2009, he made the All-Star team, despite going 11-16, leading the league in losses and allowing 231 hits in 213 innings. In fact, he did not post a winning record from 2006 to 2011, breaking that run with a 1-0, 8 appearance campaign with Washington in 2012.

But that brief stint with Washington, in which he had a 1.32 ERA, was a hint of things to come. From that point to 2016, he posted a 3.12 ERA, a 126 ERA+ and a 9.4 K/9 IP ratio in 260 games as an effective left-handed relief pitcher for five teams. That ERA is deceptively high, too—it would be lower if not for a clunker campaign (2012, 6.03 ERA) thrown in. The veteran with nine big league teams under his belt might have pitched his last pitch, as he is currently a free agent.

Random autograph of the day: Ross Ohlendorf

Ross Ohlendorf was one of those pitchers that never seemed to go away. You’d forget about him, because he was toiling on the farm, then he’d resurface with a big league club, post a few solid—or disastrous—appearances, then he’d disappear again.

Originally in the Diamondbacks system, he was part of the trade that sent Randy Johnson from the Yankees back to Arizona. His tenure with New York was mostly rocky, but after a trade to the Pirates, he posted a laudable 2010 line of 11 wins, 10 losses and a 3.92 ERA in 29 starts (no superstar names were involved in that deal [though Jose Tabata was a superstar-to-be when it went down]).

Two-thousand-and-eleven was a foil campaign, as he went 1-11, but with a still respectable 4.07 ERA. The wheels fell off in 2011 and 2012 (5-7, 7.94 line between Pittsburgh and San Diego), before he had a nice renaissance with Washington in 2013 (4-1, 3.28 in 60.1 innings). He did not appear in the majors in 2014, then like the journeyman he was, found himself with a new club in 2015 —the Rangers, with whom he had a 3.72 ERA in 21 relief appearances.

He finally found a stable role in the Reds bullpen in 2016, making 64 appearances and averaging 9.3 strikeouts per 9 innings, but his ERA of 4.66 enthused no one and his big league career was over after that. He finished in Japan in 2017, posting a 5.50 mark in 4 starts.

Random autograph of the day: Jason LaRue

Jason LaRue was a Reds fixture for many years, spending eight of his 12 major league seasons with the club; He spent 12 of his 16 professional campaigns in their system.

Though blessed with some pop—he hit as many as 16 home runs in a campaign —LaRue was a defense-first backstop. Leading the league in caught stealing percentage and runners caught stealing in 2001, with 60.9 and 42, respectively, his .991 career fielding percentage ranks 88th all-time among catchers, and he four times finished in the top 10 in catcher assists. Twice he was among the top 10 in double plays turned. But he wasn’t without his pitfalls back there— he paced the loop in passed balls thrice and finished second once and third once in errors committed.

He had some defensive versatility, too: He played 8 games at first, 5 in the outfield and 4 at third base; among those 17 non-catcher appearances, 4 were starts. He wrapped up his career with the Cardinals in 2010.

Random autograph of the day: Dominic DeSantis

Dominic DeSantis was drafted three times, last by the Phillies in the 20th round of the 1991 draft.

At 22, he was a senior citizen in the leagues in which he pitched in 1991, his first year, but his numbers were excellent: 1.98 ERA, 0.960 WHIP in 15 starts between Rookie ball and Single A, with just 17 walks and 79 hits allowed in 100 innings of work.

The next season, at A ball, he had a 2.71 mark in 133 innings, allowing just 123 hits and 29 BBs. Over the next two campaigns, his ERA jumped to 3.45 then to 4.57 — an occurrence more excusable when someone is moving up into the higher, more competitive ranks … but DeSantis was still in (high) A ball.

Though many players experience a career resurgence upon joining the independent leagues after struggling or stagnating in affiliated ball, such was not the case with DeSantis: He moved to the Northern League in 1994 to wrap up his career, posting a 5.86 ERA in 43 innings. 

Random autograph of the day: Mike Devaney

Mike Devaney holds a special place in my heart, because he’s a former Mets prospect, and I, of course, am a Mets fan.

He showed great potential in the early going, posting a 5-0 mark with 1.95 ERA in 14 starts his first professional season, 2004, and going 10-4, 3.88, while averaging just 7 hits allowed per 9 innings, in his second campaign. In 2006, he was 12-5 with a 2.13 mark, an excellent year indeed, before slipping to 6-9, 4.85 in his fourth and final season.

It’s odd the Mets didn’t give him another campaign to redeem himself, with 2007 being his first real struggle. Sure, he was 24 in 2007, but that is far from old. One wonders if injuries did him I’m, of that I’m not sure. Either way, he was 33-18 with a 3.24 ERA overall, a great line for someone who never made the majors. 

Random autograph of the day: Paul Ellis

Paul Ellis was a St. Louis Cardinals first round pick, taken 30th overall in 1990 between outfielder Midre Cummings and pitcher Brian Williams. Though he never became a recognizable face in the majors … because he didn’t reach them … he did become well-known at Double A Arkansas, spending three full seasons and two partial years there.

While he did not find much success in the affiliated ranks, he exploded in independent baseball: With the Western League’s Reno Chukars in 1997, he slashed .337/.464/.570 with 16 home runs and 75 RBI in 84 games. To that point, he had not hit higher than .255 or had more than 6 home runs in a season. That was his only year in indy ball, however, and was also his final professional campaign. Another point of interest: He did not steal a single base in 696 pro games.

Random autograph of the day: Kevin Mulvey

Kevin Mulvey is a former Mets prospect, a 2nd round pick later traded with others for star hurler Johan Santana.

Though he posted some decent numbers on the farm, Mulvey never pitched in a big league uniform for the Mets—and, in the long run, he barely pitched in the big leagues, at all.

New York shipped him to the Twins in February 2008, and by July 2009, he was on a major league mound. He spent 27 1/3 unsuccessful innings there, including just 1 1/3 with Minnesota, going 0-3 with a 7.90 ERA overall. The Twins shipped him to Arizona as the player to be named later in a deal for relief pitcher Jon Rauch in September 2009 and after a few more rocky appearances, he was back in the minors for good.

He ended his professional career in 2012 where it all began, in the Mets system. 

Random autograph of the day: Ryan Carter

For those who think these signatures look a little off, I believe they are ghost-signed—that is, someone other than Ryan Carter signed the cards.

Carter was drafted twice, initially out of high school in 1997, then in the 8th round out of the University of California, Los Angeles in 2000. He was taken in the same round as future pitching stars Dontrelle Willis and Brandon Webb, though such success was not in his professional future.

He played in the minor leagues from 2000 to 2003 and had modest success in the lower levels, striking out 132 in 138.2 innings in 2001. However, in his Double A debut in 2003, he went 2-7 with a 6.00 ERA in 17 starts in what would be his final season. 

Random autograph of the day: Phil Hughes

Phil Hughes was a Yankees uber-prospect coming up, a former first round draft pick out of California that rocketed through the team’s farm system. He was named Baseball America’s 39th-best prospect going into the 2006 season, and #3 going into 2007; Baseball Prospectus ranked him #2. Through his first four minor league campaigns, including a five-start stint at Triple A, he was 25-8 with a 2.09 ERA; In 275 innings, he had 311 strikeouts and just 171 hits allowed.

But the major leagues is a far cry from the minors, even Triple A. Though his debut campaign, 2007, wasn’t terrible, it wasn’t what fans were expecting—in 13 starts, he went 5-3 with a 4.46 ERA. After an awful sophomore campaign, when he went 0-4 with a 6.62 mark in 8 starts, he was relegated to the bullpen for 2009, where he had some success. In 51 appearances (7 starts), he posted a 3.03 ERA with 96 Ks in 86 innings.

Back in the rotation for 2010, he went 18-8 in 176.1 innings to earn an All-Star nod, before falling to 5-5, 5.79 in 2011. That pattern would define Hughes’ career—a good year, then a bad year, then a good year. He went 16-13, 4.19 in 2012, then 4-14, 5.19 in 2013. 16-10, 3.52 in 2014, 11-9, 4.40 in 2015. The wheels fell off in 2016, and from then on, he was a combined 5-10, 6.01 in 145.1 innings.

While he didn’t live up to his billing, his career was solid—he went 88-79 overall—and he had some noteworthy highlights. His postseason career, especially, had some excellent games, such as his 2010 ALDS start against the Twins. In 7 innings, he allowed no runs on 4 hits and 1 walk, while striking out 6 batters. He last played in the majors in 2018.