This past Thursday was perhaps David's biggest day in the Big League sun. In a tilt against the Diamondbacks, first, Bote McBoatface flashed some leather in making a diving stop at second base, with the bases loaded, to end a scoring threat early on. Then, with the Cubs down by two in the bottom of the ninth, David stepped up to the plate with a man on and launched a homerun deep into the left-centerfield bleachers to tie the ballgame. This set the stage for Anthony Rizzo's follow up walk-off blast, causing Wrigley Field to rock harder than even at the Foo Fighters concert last night.
With those heroics fresh in my mind, how appropriate was it then that this showed up in my mailbox that very same afternoon:
With Bote's emergence on the Big League scene being so unexpected, he doesn't have a lot of cardboard to his name. As such, I've been struggling to fill his slot in my Cubs All-Time Roster Collection since his initial call-up in April. Luckily, Jason from Hoarding Cardboard happened to have an extra 2014 Grandstand Kane County Cougars team set laying around, a set from when the team was the low A affiliate of the Chicago National League Ballclub. It's also a set which included the breakout Cubs rookie, among other future Big Leaguers...
...including the man who started the Bote game for the Diamondbacks, Zack Godley. That's right, the D-Backs starter got his professional start in the Cubs farm system, after being drafted in the 10th round of the 2013 draft. After finishing up his 2014 campaign with the Cougars, Godley was shipped to Arizona in exchange for World Series hero, Miguel Montero. I'd say that was a deal that worked out for both sides.
Today, Hannemann remains on the roster of the Cubs' AAA affiliate and, thus, there's still a chance that his card could end up in my CATRC, rather than my "Coulda Been a Cub" binder with Godley and Blackburn.
On that note, there are still a few prospects in this set that have not gone anywhere and, like Hannemann, could still show up on Chicago's Major League roster.
No matter their standing, Remillard is an interesting story. The catcher was drafted way back in 2013, in the seventh round, and skipped straight up to the Cougars and Baseball America had already labelled him the Cubs' best defensive backstop prospect. In 49 games for the Cougars, he hit .286, drove in 26, had an OBP of .372, and was a Midwest League All-Star. Then, the injuries started to pile up. Eventually, he ended up requiring Tommy John surgery and it's been a long, slow journey back, not seeing any game action until late last year. He truly is the comeback kid of 2018!
I'd put my money on Remillard as the most likely of the group to make it to the show and become the next Major Leaguer to rise out of the 2014 Grandstand KC Cougars team set. We've covered those that have debuted for other franchises; so, now, let's examine those who were so fortunate as to make their Big League debut in Cubbie Blue:
So far, there have only been three men from this set to rise all the way up the Cubs chain and none of the trio has fully established themselves at the MLB level. To be fair, both Underwood and Tseng have a chance to earn a spot in the Cubs' starting rotation - the latter of which was named the team's minor league pitcher of the year in 2017. Also, both have made spot starts during the 2018 campaign and are likely to get another chance once the rosters expand in September. However, the same cannot be said for the third member of the trio.
Gerardo Concepcion was considered one of the big prizes in the 2012 international draft class. The Cuban hurler had starred in the island league and the Cubs inked him to a five-year, six million dollar deal that spring. Unfortunately, he could never fully harness his stuff in America, with a career 5.46 ERA and 5.0 BB9 in the minor leagues. Nevertheless, he was able to keep it together to earn a brief cuppacoffee with the big club in 2016, making three lackluster appearances. By the middle of last season, he'd been cut loose and doesn't appear to have latched on anywhere else since. Of course, he did get himself a World Series ring, so he has that going for him!
All three of these cards will be entered into my "Nothing Major" collection, a binder filled with minor league cards of future Major League Cubs. This is one of my favorite side projects to my CATRC, so they were exceptionally welcome sights.
Also a welcome sight was the awesome uniform being sported by Tyler Skulina. I have no idea what the Cougars were promoting with these skeleton jerseys, but they are absolutely awesome - no bones about it!
The rest of the set reads as a list of ghosts of prospects past; but, in all honesty, the fact that Bote was included in this cello pack was what really made the rip worth it. Like I said, I'd been chasing a card of the Cubs wunderkind since he debuted back in the early days of the 2018 season, without any sort of luck. Now, after many fruitless Ebay searches and striking out at the Smokies souvenir shop, I can finally add his name to my CATRC binder. Plus, an assortment of additions to my "Coulda Been a Cub" and "Nothing Major" collections were extra special bonuses. Speaking of bonuses...
Jason made sure to toss a few bonuses of his own into the bubble mailer which delivered my team set - an awesome throwback "Salute" insert, which highlights the Negro League throwbacks (and Rizz's choking up, two-strike approach) the team donned last season, and an "all smiles" team card which showcases the pearly whites of Kris Bryant and Kyle Schwarber. I'll tell you what - these guys weren't the only ones beaming after I was done flipping through Jason's generous stack of cardboard!
Thank you, Jason, both for the excellent cards and for thinking of me in the first place when you came across them. I'll be sure to find some nifty Reds and prowl my trade stacks for some Matt Mantei's to send your way and return the favor!
To close out this post, I can't think of a better way than to embed a clip of KC & the Sunshine Band playing their hit single, "Shake Your Booty." After all, this post was heavy on the "KC" Cougars content and Bote - with a name the sound awfully similar to the shaking posterior - being the ultimate highlight of the post. Maybe it's a bit too on the nose, but after flipping through these cards, I sure felt like dancing.
Shake your Bote, everyone!