Friday, June 9, 2017

Patience is a Virtue

Way back in the year 2010, the Oakland Athletics selected a young, college-educated right-hander in the 27th round of the MLB June Amateur Draft.  The lanky pitcher used a fastball that rested comfortably in the low-90's and a punch out curve to star for the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and attract the attention of MLB scouts during the previous four years.  Concurrently, this same draft pick also plied his talents on the national stage, as part of the collegiate roster for Team USA.  Despite his low draft status, the farmhand built off of these credentials and slowly began to rise up the A's annual prospect rankings and work his way up the long, minor league chain.

Slowly being the key word.

Eight years, an AA All-Star nomination in 2014, a move from the starting rotation to the bullpen and then back to the rotation, and two releases later, the tenacious and dedicated 28-year old Raleigh, NC native has ridden the roller coaster of professional baseball and finally made the ultimate ascent into the Major Leagues.

Who am I talking about?  More on that in a minute.

Yesterday evening, the Cubs announced that last year's Cy Young Award runner-up and college professor look-alike, Kyle Hendricks, required a brief stay on the new 10-day disabled list, due to a battle with tendinitis in his pitching hand.  The ailment is not expected to be serious and is more precautionary than anything; however, with Kyle's markedly decreased velocity readings being a recurring problem so far in 2017, it's hard not to wonder if Hendy's hand has been part of the cause.  After all, speaking as a runner who has battled with the tendinitis in his foot on and off for eight years, it can be a recurring problem.

This newfound injury opened up a spot on the Cubs' Major League roster, in the short term.  This roster move is what opened the door for minor league veteran, Seth Frankoff, to finally make his MLB debut.

Signed off of the scrapheap during the winter months, Frankoff had been released by both the Athletics and the Los Angeles Dodgers in his previous eight years on the farm.  However, the shrewd Cubs front office liked what they saw from his brief dalliance with the starting rotation, as part the Dodgers' Double A squad in 2016, and inked him as rotation depth.  Placing him in AAA Iowa to start the year, Frankoff rewarded his third franchise's confidence in him with his best professional season thus far, producing a slick 2.77 ERA in 55.1 innings to go along with 59 strikeouts.  

Apparently, his start to the 2017 campaign did not go unnoticed.

Now, he'll get his first opportunity to take the Major League mound, though he'll be coming out of the bullpen for the time being, as Mike Montgomery will take Hendrick's next scheduled start tomorrow.  Nevertheless, I think I can safely assume that Frankoff will take the trade-off of moving back to the pen in order to have his contract purchased by a Major League team.  Call it a hunch.

Frankoff with the Cubs during Spring Training, this past March.

In order to make room for Seth on the 40-man roster, the Cubs transferred Brett Anderson from the 10-day disabled list to the 60-day, as the pitcher has yet to even begin a rehab assignment - obviously, his back issues will keep him out of action for much longer than 10-days.  Seeing as how he was like tossing gasoline on a fire when he was "healthy," I can't say that I'm super disappointed.

With all of the negativity surrounding Wrigley Field during this so-far lackluster season for the defending World Series Champions and, frankly, the shock and disgust attached to some horrifying allegations about one of their franchise cornerstones, a positive, feel-good story is more than welcome in Chicago, right about now.  It comes in the form of a late round draft pick enduring through sleepless, cross country bus rides, empty stadiums in back-wood towns, and terribly ill-suited pay in the bush leagues for eight, long years, beating the odds and achieving his dream of pitching in the Bigs.  Here's hoping he seizes the moment and sticks around for longer than a cuppa' joe.

Get better soon, guys!

In order to celebrate his long-awaited promotion, I immediately took to the internet to see what his cardboard presence was like; after all, I was going to need a Frankoff for my obsessive Cubs All-Time Roster Collection binder, ASAP.  I did not have one ready to go since he was only signed this past winter and, to be honest, I never expected him rise above insurance policy status.  

Seeing as he wasn't a high draft choice nor was he ever an uber prospect, his cardboard footprint is not particularly large.  Outside of his minor league, team-issue singles (which always seem to be dreadfully and unilaterally overpriced), his only appearance in a mainstream card set appears to be as part of Upper Deck's 2008 USA Baseball checklist.  As I mentioned earlier, Frankoff pitched for Team USA in 2007.  In addition to his base card, Seth also appears on relic and with a certified autograph.

As you can see from the card which tops this post, I opted for an autograph, but it is not of the certified variety.  According to the Ebay listing, "SIGNED IN PERSON, obtained by myself, following a minor league game in 2012. Good clean signature. Signed in blue sharpie."  From what I can see in the scan, all appears to be as advertised.  But, let's take a look at it again, for good measure:

Knock on wood - everything appears to on the up and up here.  Plus, I highly doubt that there's a lucrative market for counterfeit Seth Frankoff signatures.

I probably payed a little more than this card is worth and maybe I angered the petty baseball card gods by posting about the item before I safely received it in the mail, but I was just so excited about another Cubs debut that I couldn't help myself.  Plus, I've made it abundantly clear on this blog that I adore minor league and collegiate baseball cards and this one certainly fits that bill.  Furthermore, I have relatively few signatures in my CATRC binder and anytime I can add a new one on the cheap, I will jump at that opportunity.  Lastly, I hope he proves me wrong, but I doubt Seth will be showing up as a Cub in Update or any other major product anytime soon; thus, this card could stick around for in his slot for a looooooong time.

Anyway, here I am talking about how patience is a virtue and then I immediately turn around and overspend on a trading card for a guy who had been called up just hours before.... the irony is so thick that it's damn near palpable.  I guess in both my case and Seth Frankoff's, the waiting is the hardest part and one of us deals with that fact a little bit better than the other.

Good luck, Seth!


  1. Cool, thanks for the heads up on this guy. I hope he does well! Good for him sticking with it and finally getting the call.

  2. "I've made it abundantly clear on this blog that I adore minor league and collegiate baseball cards..." Right there with you on that front. I love the USA cards, because no matter what MLB the player is linked to, the card still fits in my team collection. 'Merica!

  3. It is always fun to see guys make their debut when they've been through so much.

  4. Congrats, Mr. Frankoff! I'll have to keep an eye out for him in upcoming Cubs games.

    Also, childhood flashback alert: I'm surprised to find that I still read the "Eight Years Later" sign in the voice of the voiceover guy from Spongebob. EIGHT. YEARHS. LATAH.