Tag Archives: 1989

Dual Prospects: Brad Pounders & Jerald Clark

1989 Fleer

1989 Fleer

Brad Pounders was retired by the time this card was issued, so he’s DOA, unless you want to count him as a potato farmer. Still, he appears to have been a big power prospect for the Padres in the mid-to-late 80s, hitting 35 home runs in A ball in 1986 and 31 home runs between AA and AAA in 1987. In fact, looking closer, he was something of a Three True Outcomes guy, having a .381 OBP in 1986 and 1987 with 129 Ks in 86 and 79 in 87. I’m a bit baffled to as why he gave up – he looks like a decent enough prospect, but
 
Jerald Clark is the focus of this card now, though there was probably a time when Pounders would have been the better prospect. A 12th round pick in 1985, Clark had smacked 18 home runs in 1987 at AA Wichita, but beyond that, he had shown some decent power, never OPSing below .810 up through 1988. Unfortunately, that didn’t quite hold up when he came up to the majors. He debuted in the majors in 1988, but didn’t stick until 1990, when he had a 195/250/317 line in six games. Long-term, though, he had a decent if not spectacular major league career, finishing with a .257/.301/.408 line careerwise. He had an okay eye in the minors – not quite sure why that didn’t translate, but I surely wouldn’t call him a failed prospect.
 
Card Rating: B/D. Good choice of prospects at the time; I certainly can’t fault Fleer looking back at the guys’ numbers. This could have been a really big card at one time. Pounders really brings down the overall value of their careers, though. Clark on his own I would rate a C/C+, but Pounders’ F brings down the grade overall. Not a valuable card, but interesting nostalgia.
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Dual Prospects: Luis De Los Santos & Jim Campbell

1989 Fleer

1989 Fleer

New feature for Teen Prospector…I want to look at the cards from the past that feature multiple rookies and grade them both on the quality of the prospects at the time as well as how their careers worked out. These cards have always been fun for me, even if they went nowhere, so I thought it would be excellent to take a look at them.
 
So, Luis De Los Santos first. Selected in the second round in 1984, he was a corner OF/1B/DH type who had shown almost no power but could hit for a decent if not spectacular average. My guess is that he was expected to develop into a power hitter, but it just never came; the most home runs he ever hit was six in 1988, when he earned his promotion to the majors (to be fair, he did hit .307 that year). In 11 games in 1988, he hit .091/.231/.227. How did that earn him this card? Haven’t a clue. Guess it was the AAA numbers. He fared a little better in 1989, going .253/.293 (ick)/.310 in 28 major league games at the age of 22.
 
Yes, that’s correct, he’s 21 in that picture. I can’t believe it, either. Anyway, he never did much better, only getting one more year in the majors in 1991, when he managed a 25 OPS+. He bounced around the minors for a couple of years, but was dropped out of organized baseball in 1993, at the age of 26.
 
Jim Campbell was one of a million men so named in major and minor league history. A 32nd round pick in 1987, it’s a little baffling as to why he even made this card. Sure, he went 6-0 with a 0.73 ERA in short-season A in 1987 at the age of 21 (no great feat), but he was a pedestrian 4-3 with a 3.60 at AA Memphis in 1988. What was Fleer looking at here? He wouldn’t even make the majors until 1990, when he went 1-0 with a 46 ERA+ in two games. And that was it for his major league career. Nice pick, Fleer!
 
Card Rating: F/F. Poor choice of prospects to begin with, and neither made a dent career-wise. Best used as kindling.

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Prospect Autos: Gregg Olson

1989 Topps

1989 Topps

Man oh man, there was a time when a card like this would draw high acclaim from my friends. I picked it up a few years ago for a couple of dollars, which was a steal, as far as I was concerned. Can you really put a price on making your inner child happy every now and then?
 
If you don’t know Gregg’s story, he was a friggin amazing closer for the Orioles. I got to see him pitch in his rookie season in Baltimore, closing out an amazing game against the Blue Jays (my first major league game). He had a hell of a curveball, and though closers are generally overrated, I was always excited to see him come out of the pen. Unfortunately, his knee-bending curveball, as it often does, led to a torn elbow ligament, and he was never quite the same after that (a la Kerry Wood). He had a decent comeback year in 1998 with the Diamondbacks, then finished up his career with the Dodgers as a setup guy. Sad ending for a promising career.

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Tom Gordon

1989 Upper Deck

1989 Upper Deck

Another one of those key 1989 Upper Deck High Numbers rookies, this guy was HIGHLY sought-after in my trading circles. It’s kind of amusing when I think about what Gordon eventually became, especially those years with the Red Sox. I can still remember the night I traded for this one in our library basement club. I took it home and immediately put it in a hard case. Now THIS guy was certainly going to be a superstar! And look at that photo! That delivery! It became another one of those iconic images of my baseball youth.
 
But how good was Gordon when this card came out? Was the hype warranted? I was curious, so I went back and looked at his numbers. The answer? Uh, HELL YES. In 1988, at three levels, Gordon was 16-5 with a 1.59 ERA, and a mind-blowing 0.92 WHIP. He also cleaned up at the ML level in 1989 before tailing off into mediocrity over the next few years. I mean, he had some amazing years when he was reinvented as a closer, but nothing can touch that early brilliance. My guess is injuries took their toll over time. Of course, that was one of the concerns about him as a rookie: too small to make it long-term. But hey, 20 years later and he’s still around. Go Flash!

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Jerome Walton

This card was once highly regarded.

This card was once highly regarded.

Man this was THE card to have in the back half of 1989. Jerome Walton was in the middle of his 89 ROY campaign, and everyone wanted to have this card. I remember it being a highly valued card in our little trading community, one that took me a long time to acquire. It was trading up in the stratospheric TEN DOLLAR range! The same as the Ken Griffey Jr rookie card.  It’s laughable now, really, and I didn’t completely understand it at the time, as I was more of a Dwight Smith guy, but hey, a must-have card is a must-have card.
 
And frankly I think it’s a pretty good-looking card. He looks a bit weird, but the color in the picture is vibrant and I think almost as iconic as that Griffey shot. If Walton had panned out like Griffey, I could easily see this one occupying that same aesthetic stratosphere. I have a feeling they chose this photo very carefully, just like the Griffey one. Still fun to look at and think about, even if Walton was terrible.

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Todd Zeile

Zeile 89 UD

I’ve told the tale of the 1989 Upper Deck High Numbers a few times, but this card in particular has an interesting story. I was part of a little card club back in 1989…we were a group of kids and a couple of older guys who would meet in the basement of the public library and swap cards from our collections. This usually resulted in the older guys ripping off the kids (thanks, jerks). But this card represents a little change. When I saw Zeile I was instantly intrigued – a prospect I hadn’t heard of? I checked out the guy’s stats on the backs and decided he looked like a pretty good catching prospect; the kid I was trading with wanted a bit for him, but to me it was totally worth it. I seem to remember dealing some 87 Fleer Update cards for him, but the actual trade is lost to the mists of time. Either way, I didn’t care. I had what I wanted.
 
Of course, Zeile went on to have a pretty decent career, if not Hall of Fame. He remained one of my favorite players during his playing years – one I always kept an eye on, even if this card disappeared into the ether sometime in the late 90s (this is a recently acquired copy). Thanks for the good years, Todd.

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Greg Briley

Briley 89 UD

I thought this guy was going to team with Ken Griffey Jr. to become some sort of outfield dynamic duo. This card certainly caught my attention at first because here he was covering second yet clearly marked as an outfielder. Combine that with the allure of 1989 Upper Deck High Numbers (which I really considered to be the cadillac of traded sets, already my favorite hobby staple) and I had to learn more about Pee Wee. I read up on him as quickly as I could and found out that he had decent pop for a little guy. Yep – perfect counterpoint for Griffey, and this image of the Seattle outfield was set in my mind. Of course, he never panned out, but we won’t worry about that.
 
I still think this is a cool card. I love this era of Mariners uniform so much that I used to have the yellow S hat. I don’t know what it is about the uniforms that speak to me, but they do. Combine it with the Spring Training blue jersey and that old school Diet Pepsi billboard in the back, and this is a nice time capsule of the late 80s.

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