Random autograph of the day: Brandon Cromer

You might be more familiar with Cromer’s brothers, Tripp and D.T., both of whom reached the major leagues. However, Brandon had a strong baseball pedigree in his own right, being taken as a supplemental pick by the Blue Jays in the 1st round of the 1992 amateur draft. His 1994 season stands out for a negative reason — in 80 games and 259 at-bats in Single A, he hit just .135. That’s with a ‘1’. Astonishingly, the Blue Jays moved him up a level the next year anyway, where his averaged improved over 100 points to a still meager .237. Cromer never put it all together, so — though he hit 24 home runs his first and only full year at Triple A — he never reached the majors. A fourth brother, Burke, played a couple years in the minors, as well. 

Random autograph of the day: Ray Aguilar

Pitcher Ray Aguilar started off with such incredible promise, moving up the low- and mid-minors with ease.

Between his first three professional seasons, he went 16-7 with a 1.99 ERA in 81 games (21 starts). In 248 2/3 innings, he allowed just 191 hits, 61 walks and 11 home runs, while striking out 268 batters. He even won his first Triple A appearance. Granted, he was usually pitching at levels below his age group, however the numbers speak for themselves.

During his first extended stay at Triple A, in 2004, things began to go south — he had a 6.21 ERA in 9 starts, with diminished strikeout totals. Like many studs-turned-duds before him, he couldn’t recover, and though he went 12-7 in his final pro season, he never reached the major leagues. 

Random autograph of the day: Darrel Deak

Darrel Deak was drafted in the same round as Bobby Higginson, Mike Cameron and Kirk Rueter, but didn’t experience the same level of professional success—in fact, he never reached the majors. He had decent pop (as many as 18 home runs in a season) and, early on, showed a good eye at the plate (.423 OBP his first pro campaign), but he couldn’t make the jump to the bigs. The poor guy spent three full years at Triple A, but never earned a promotion. 

Random autograph of the day: Dan Cholowsky

Dan Cholowsky had a relatively long professional career, eight seasons, but most of his success was had in the low minors. In his second campaign, at Single A, he had 48 steals and a .307 average. Fast forward to his first trial at Triple A three years later, when he hit .218 in 76 games — quite a difference. The mid-minors didn’t do him well either, as he hit just .240 at Double A. He later became a scout.

Random autograph of the day: Dan DeMent

Though he went undrafted, Dan DeMent had a productive professional career. He spent 8 seasons in the minors, reaching as high as Triple A. His best season was 2005, when he hit .324 with 14 home runs and 52 RBI. I think we’ll be seeing a Dan DeMent big league debut yet—as a coach. He’s worked his way up the Rays’ ranks and spent 2018 and 2019 at Triple A. Now the club’s minor league hitting coordinator, Dement isn’t too many steps away from being part of Tampa Bay’s field staff.

Random autograph of the day: Adrian Burnside

Australia-native Adrian Burnside had a long professional career that spanned the globe. He played in the United States, Japan, Korea, Mexico and Australia, and though he didn’t find much success anywhere he pitched, a 15-year career is nothing to sneeze at.

Random autograph of the day: Clint Davis

Davis was a stunningly successful reliever early in his professional career, posting ERAs of 2.22 and 1.94 in his second-and-third seasons, respectively. But it looks like injuries and the higher level of play at Triple A did him in, as he missed a couple seasons and saw his ERA balloon at the upper level. He was a strikeout ace before it was cool, though — with the independent Rio Grande Valley WhiteWings in 1995, he averaged over 13 Ks per 9 frames.