Tag Archives: Upper Deck Minors
Rick Huisman was one of the Giants’ super prospects in the early 90s. Drafted in the 3rd round of the 1990 draft, he shined in his first minor league season, going 6-5 with a 2.11ERA at two levels. Promoted to high-A in 1991, he went 16-4 with a 1.83 ERA, winning the pitching “Quadruple Crown” for San Jose, becoming the only pitcher in league history to top the circuit in wins, strikeouts, ERA, and winning percentage. Continuing his stellar rise, he went 10-6 with a 2.38 ERA in 1992 between AA and AAA.
So what happened? Why didn’t he make it big in the majors? You guessed it: injury. He hurt his shoulder at the end of the ’92 season and was never quite the same after that. Oh, he tasted the majors from 95-96 with Kansas City, ending with a career 93 OPS+ in the majors. Sad story.
Tyler Houston was one of the gang of 1990 Score draft picks that I’ve written about (that’s another set I should cover some day). Now if ever there was a steroids candidate, he’s it. Brought up in the Atlanta organization, he never had a BA above .226 until he turned 22, but then dropped right back down into the sub-.250s right afterwards. He never quite developed the power they thought he would have, either, and only really got a shot in 1996, at the age of 25. I know catcher prospects tend to come along more slowly, but that was a loooong road. Not to mention that, by the time he broke in, he was no longer a catcher, but a corner infielder.
He was a serviceable major leaguer – nothing special. In fact, a little less than special – his career OPS+ was 90, pretty wretched for a corner infielder. I still suspect he doped at some point, though. I can’t imagine how he made it otherwise.
I do like this card a lot, though. The 1992 Upper Deck Minor League set was full of awesome shots like this. Well worth the money, especially when boxes are so cheap nowadays.
Wow, was the hype ever strong with this one. Those who were around back then may remember stories of Kelly crushing baseballs so hard in college that he left imprints on the ball. Because of his power, his speed, and the fact that he had starred at Arizona State, he was often compared to Barry Bonds. Here’s a shot of him from his Arizona State days:
Unfortunately, he couldn’t live up to the hype as a pro, which really disappointed me, because I was excited as hell for him to become a major leaguer. After a so-so first year in Durham, he hit 25 home runs at AA Greenville, but that came with an unfortunate .229/.323/.444 line. Not to mention 162 Ks in 133 games. His isoD is probably explained by his power, rather than any special eye. He finally made the majors in 1994, and managed a 104 OPS+ in 30 games. They gave him a more complete shot the next year, and he failed miserably, putting together a 49 OPS+ and an anemic .190/.258/.314 line. He was traded to Cincinnati that offseason for Chad Fox and Ray “Burger” King, his stock completely worthless. His only full year in the majors after that was with the new Tampa Bay Devil Rays in 1998, where he had a 79 OPS+. He tried a comback in 2003 and 2004 for the Royals, but remained in their minors before retiring. Sad story.
Rockies and Marlins prospects kind of sit at a weird intersect here. The two teams were introduced as I was starting to stop collecting, but had prospects in 1992…so while I have some memories of John Burke, I was never as high on him as some of the prospects covered here. That said, I always loved this card. The shot with the rockies got kind of cliche, but it was fresh here. I love the colors here, and especially the lighting. Man, Upper Deck had some great photography back in the day. What happened?
Anyway, I seem to remember Burke got injured and was never the same. Kind of like the other Rockies savior, David Nied. It was a pretty bad thing to be a Rockies pitcher in the 90s, before the humidor. I mean, it’s not great now, but it’s a damn sight better.
One of the rare players on this page that panned out, we all know what happened to Giambi. But back when this card came out, I saw no evidence that he was going to be anything other than another flameout A’s prospect (see Scott Hemond, Brent Gates, and Craig Paquette). I guess the steroids had something else to say about it.
It’s funny to look at his rookie cards these days…he looks like a skinny little runt, absolutely nothing like what he would become. Even here, though he shows some of the attitude that would later crop up, he looks like an entirely different person. I guess that’s what the steroids did to him.
I’ve written about my discovery of 1992 Upper Deck Minor Leagues before on my Nationals/Expos site, so I won’t belabor what it was like to discover this gem of a set (and I still feel that way), but I can write some about The Meat Hook. I really liked him coming out of high school, but was shocked to see he wasn’t some Russian guy after reading so much about him. It seemed I had gotten him mixed up with some Russian prospect that was floating around at the time (and I still can’t recall the guy’s name to this day). I was, however, quite happy to see Dmitri rise through the Cardinals ranks and thought he’d end up being a superstar.
The truth of course…well, I’ve had some great times watching him as a National, but he’s pretty much shot any chance at being a star. Still, it’s fun to look back and see him this thin.