A couple weeks ago I took my third and fourth graders to see the Fort Wayne TinCaps, the low A affiliate of the San Diego Padres. The team sponsors a reading incentive program. My class participated in the program and each student that completed the program got a free ticket to the ballgame. Any time I can combine baseball and school, I'm going to do it!
At the game, the kids were buying the typical souvenirs like minibats and foam fingers. I found something else....baseball cards. There were team sets from previous seasons on sale and I grabbed the set from 2001. I thought it would be interesting to see how the players from a Class A team have fared ten years later.
First, you'll notice that the team name is different. In 2001 the team was the Fort Wayne Wizards. They became the TinCaps when they moved into their new ballpark in 2009. This card is of their old mascot, Dinger the Dragon.
Here is the only Cubs connection I could find. The Wizards pitching coach was former Cub Mike Harkey. He spent five seasons with the Cubs in the early '90s. Because this was the era when eveyone and their brother was putting out baseball cards, I've got a whopping 64 cards of Harkey! The one above is from Team Stadium Club 1993.
This MVP card features the most prominent player in the 29 card set. The Wizard's top pitcher in 2000 was Jacob Peavy. I wonder when he became "Jake"?
There were 24 different players who had individual cards. Of them, six made it to the major leagues. I'll show the players, ordering them by most games played in the big leagues.
Pitcher Oliver Perez had the longest MLB career, from 2002-2010. His best season was 2007, when he went 15-10 for the Mets. Overall, he pitched in 206 games and was 58-69.
Pitcher Justin Germano has a 78 game career and besides Peavy, is the only other Wizard still active in the major leagues. Currently on the Indians roster, he also pitched for the Padres and Reds. He had a lifetime record of 8-19 coming into the 2011 season.
J.J. Furmaniak spent a short time with the Pirates in 2005 and the A's in 2007. Over the two seasons he got into 29 games, batted 43 times, and picked up only 8 hits. The only redeeming thing for him is that he is from the Chicago suburb of Naperville and his childhood hero was Ryne Sandberg.
Jack Cassel pitched briefly for the Padres in 2007 and the Astros in 2008. Over 15 games he was 2-2 with a 4.92 ERA.
Kevin Reese had two short stints with the Yankees in 2005 and 2006. He played in 12 games, batted 12 times, with five hits. That was good for a career average of .385....not too shabby.
Australian born Chris Oxspring pitched in five late season games for the Padres in 2005, a total of 12 innings. He had no decision and an ERA of 3.75.
Overall, as far as big league careers go, it was an unimpressive bunch. That may help explain why the 2001 Wizards finished the season 54-83.