Category Archives: Blue Jays Prospects

Eddie Zosky

Zosky Gold leaf

Zosky was part of the 1989 draft, a draft class that got broad coverage in the 1990 Score set, igniting my imagination with what these kids could potentially do. Some of them went on to better things, like Mo Vaughn and Chuck Knoblauch (relatively speaking), and some never appeared in the majors. Zosky was one of those cup of coffee types, but I was a bit blinded because I was big into the Blue Jays at the time. I wanted to see Zosky thrive in the majors. He had a slick glove, after all, and shortstops really didn’t need to hit during that era. He could make it, right?
 
Well…no. He ended up with a 14 OPS+ career. That’s Tony Pena Jr.-esque. Maybe they should have converted him to a pitcher? Either way, I did manage to catch a few of the games he played in 91 and 92 and he looked great in the field but absolutely clueless at the plate.
 
Despite my Blue Jays fandom at the time, I never liked this card. I think it’s the lighting and that you can’t see his face very well – not to mention the photo is a bit blurry and for once the color composition on a Gold Leaf is not all that great. Still worth mentioning as part of the set, however.

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Junior Felix

Felix Leaf

Boy, was I a crazy Blue Jays fan when Junior Felix made his debut. The Blue Jays had just drafted John Olerud, and on top of that, I loved the Jays’ uniform designs. Who couldn’t love that bird and maple leaf design, I’d like to know? I first saw Felix in the 1989 Upper Deck High Numbers set, and while I loved that card, I was hoping to find a card that better represented the guy’s crazy stance.

 
He was a big power/big speed/big strikeout guy who had trouble with OBP. Of course, that was lost on me at the time, and I just saw the power and speed combination that was so desirable right after Canseco broke the 40/40 barrier. I thought he was going to be a big superstar, but he flamed out a few years later with the Angels. Ah, well. Can’t get them all. 

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Eric Lindros

Lindros Score

Does anyone remember the hype behind this card? Lindros was, of course, a GIANT hockey prospect at the time, and I guess Score decided to cash in by taking some pictures of Lindros taking BP at the Skydome. Nobody really believed he was a baseball prospect – not even me, and I was crazy into the prospects at the time. Still, there was something almost mythical about this card, in a “Bo with Pads” kind of thing. It was the cherry on top of the cake when it came to getting the 1990 Score Update set.
 
Of course Lindros was never heard of within the baseball community, and this was more of an oddity than anything. I can’t comment too much on his hockey career, but from what I understand it was brilliant but damaged by multiple concussions. A shame…could he have done more in baseball? I doubt it, but it’s fun to think about.

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John Olerud

Olerud UD

There is no card more iconic of a period of my life. The sight of this card makes a million memories burst forth, each stronger than the previous. I remember a brisk Fall day, standing outside my old brick middle school, trading cards with friends. I remember the great debates at friends’ houses between Olerud and McDonald (already covered here). I remember watching Olerud in Spring Training of 1990 and all the way through, him becoming my hero as time went on. He embodied all that I wanted to be at the time: class and dignity, with a quiet grace to just go out there and do the job. Too bad that’s not who I am, but I could admire it. I think in retrospect there was something reminiscent of my father’s work ethic, and that always meant a lot to me: shut up and do the job. My coaches even commented on it.
 
Olerud was my baseball hero for about five years or so; when I was having a hard time at the plate, I would dream about him giving me advice, and it usually helped me out. He was like a spirit guide to me. Why? I don’t know. Perhaps I was in a rough period of my life where my dad wasn’t really available and I needed a proxy of some sort. But I collected his cards obsessively, and still have a binder full of them that I’ll do something with eventually.
 
Just one thing though – he’s wearing a cap here with a bat. And he wore the helmet in the field. JUST ONCE I would have liked to have seen him wear the cap in the field. Sigh.

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Juan Guzman

Guzman Auto

Juan Guzman was one of the first baseball players that I ever saw up-close-and-personal-like. I guess it was summer of 1994, and a friend had somehow scored AMAZING tickets, right down the first base line, behind the first base dugout at Camden Yards, and like three rows up. I’ve never been so close to a game, and it spoiled me for years afterward. Anyway, I kind of remember Guzman coming over and signing autographs, but I DEFINITELY remember watching him warm up so close to us. I was amazed at how close the mound was to home plate. It seems a whole lot closer when you’ve got some flamethrower out there, let me tell you.
 
It took a lot of digging, and I thought it had gone down before the year of my high school graduation, but apparently not – July 31st, 1994, was the first time Guzman pitched at Camden. He didn’t exactly pitch a gem, but he got the win against a decent Baltimore lineup. Looking at that lineup, I feel pretty honored to have seen some of those guys: Devon White, Robbie Alomar, Paul Molitor, and John Olerud (my second time seeing my hero in action). Not to mention, of COURSE, Cal Ripken, Harold Baines, and Rafael Palmeiro, who I liked a lot at the time.
 
I also remember this game as a big deal for the neighborhood rivalry – Ben McDonald versus John Olerud – the ultimate answer to who was better. The victor? Well…Olerud went 2 for 3 with a homerun and a triple. McDonald? 6 ER in 5 innings. Olerud supremacy!

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Derek Bell

Bell Score

I covered Delino Deshields’ 1988 O-Pee-Chee card on my other site today, and as much as I’d love to write about Derek’s here, I think it’s better to offer some variety, so it is that we behold Derek’s 1990 Score Traded, his first mainstream card. Derek was one of the prospects that I first learned about in 1988, with his name mentioned in the same breath as Joey Belle when it came to being troubled. As a burgeoning Blue Jays collector, I was intrigued, especially by the Eric Davis comparisons that were being drawn; I was also really into Davis at the time.

Of course, finding the OPC card sent me over the moon, but I had to endure a few years’ wait after that for another Derek Bell card. It was an incredibly pleasant surprise to pick up the 1990 Score Traded set at a small coin shop in my hometown in 1990 (a coin shop that was the go-to-source for traded sets). 1990 Score had such a cool design, and though I was disappointed with the color scheme, I treasured all the random rookie cards in the set, including this Bell card.
 
This was also my first exposure to the conundrum of XRCs. I was confused at the time. Did the OPC card count as his rookie, or did this? Or would his 1991 cards count as rookies with both of these as oddities? I’m dismayed that this answer is just as, if not more, confusing than ever these days. I thought for sure it would eventually be answered. It makes me glad I got out of this rookie business.

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