Category Archives: Justin De Fratus

First Impressions on 2012 Topps Heritage

Featured 2012 Topps Heritage Cards: #221, Chase Utley; #192, Justin De Fratus; #274, 2012 Rookie Stars

Over the weekend, I received my 2012 Topps Heritage Phillies team set in the mail. There’s something about the cards that just doesn’t feel right this year. I suspect that it has something to do with the photography, which means what I really need to do is start comparing the photos in the set to those in the original 1963 Topps set. In addition, some of the variations this year — especially the Image Swap variations — feel just a bit too forced. However, the thing that I really find downright irritating is the mess that Topps has made of the 2012 Rookie Stars subset. Ironically, the “1963” variations on the Rookie Stars don’t bother me so much because at least there is a historical reason for Topps making them. However, there’s just no good excuse for this:

It gets worse: De Fratus also appears on 2012 Rookie Stars card #29 with Joe Savery, who makes a second appearance on 2012 Rookie Stars card #362. I realize that the Rookie Card Logo rule limits the prospects that Topps can place on these cards, but on the Phillies alone, Michael Schwimer was also available for use in this subset. I haven’t researched this, but I can’t help but feel that there were prospects from other teams eligible as well. And if there aren’t enough prospects available to create as many cards in the 2012 Rookie Stars subset as Topps would like, then only make the cards you can. In a set this small — even with all the variations, there are fewer cards overall in this year’s Heritage than in the original 1963 set, which I think is a fracking travesty — there are always plenty of veterans, young players and bench warmers to choose from.

Thank goodness I actually don’t actively pursue multi-team cards. Otherwise, Topps’s extreme laziness in this matter would really annoy the crap out of me.

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My First Phillies Look: 2012 Topps

Featured Card: 2012 Topps #243, Justin De Fratus

I’m still waiting for the “Master Team Set + Insert Cards” I purchased off of eBay to arrive, and I’d prefer to wait until I’ve had a chance to look at it before making sweeping comments about the new 2012 Topps cards. However, I did purchase a couple packs and ended up with the Michael Martinez and Justin De Fratus cards. I have to admit to being somewhat disappointed with De Fratus’s “official” rookie card.

First, the horizontal layout. In of itself, it’s a good photo and it works well in this format. However, I really, really wish that Topps would stop mixing horizontal and vertical layouts within the same set. Do one, or the other; not both. Second, what’s with the summary of Minor League stats on the back instead of listing all five years worth? The line spacing on the text box makes it clear that Topps was not hurting for room for them. More disconcertingly, he did have Major League stats in 2011. Admittedly, he only faced 17 batters over five appearances, but that doesn’t mean they should be ignored. It’s really a shame that Topps couldn’t be bothered to put together a proper back for the card. Overall, I have a positive first impression of the cards, but thanks to the De Fratus card, that impression carries a slightly unpleasant aftertaste.

2011 Phillies Cards in Review: Rookie Card of the Year

If we follow the guidelines established by MLB and the MLBPA, then just considering the cards bearing the Rookie Card Logo should greatly streamline the nomination process. The fact that the 2011 Phillies were a heavily veteran-dominated team greatly simplifies the search. In fact, just four Phillies received a card bearing the RC Logo this year: Domonic Brown, Vance Worley, Michael Martínez and Michael Stutes. To be nice to all our nominees, we’re going to overlook any of their cards issued prior to 2011 that neither display the RC Logo nor follow the Rookie Card guidelines

Unfortunately for Brown and Worley, however, I’m disqualifying them because Topps issued both of them cards bearing the RC Logo in their 2010 sets. I’m sorry, but you cannot have rookie cards in two consecutive years. This leaves just Martínez and Stutes, each of whom received just two cards from Topps. However, in an effort to expand the pool of available entries, we will accept for consideration their cards in the Phillies Team Issue Sets, even though those cards don’t bear the RC Logo. I’m not sure why the Phillies don’t use the logo in their sets, but to be fair, it took me five years to realize this wasn’t happening. It’s very likely that it hasn’t occurred to anyone in the organization either.

So, with such a small field, picking a winner for this category should be relatively easy, and that’s why I announce with a very clear conscience and no reservations that the winner of the 2011 Phillies Rookie Card of the Year goes to…

{opening envelope}

Justin De Fratus for his 2011 Bowman Prospects Autograph card!

Even before the creation of the RC Logo, there weren’t many players who could state that their only rookie card was also an autograph card, but De Fratus can make that claim. I know, it doesn’t bear the RC Logo and shouldn’t be under consideration. But I get to make the rules (it is my blog), and I hereby state that his selection accompanies the creation of the De Fratus Exemption — to be used transparently should I ever again write a best of the year series for baseball cards. While the general guideline is that I will refuse to acknowledge rookie cards not bearing the appropriate logo, exceptions will be made for any player whose first card depicting him as a Philadelphia Phillie actually happens to coincide with his first season appearing in a Major League game — regardless of whether the card bears the RC Logo.

I’ll clarify by way of example. Despite having received a couple cards already, Joe Savery still maintains eligibility for the 2012 awards for two reasons: 1) he did not receive a card this year (if he had, he would have been eligible for this year’s awards); and 2) none of his previous cards to date bear the RC Logo. Conversely, if De Fratus had not appeared in a couple games with the Phillies this year, this card would have gone down the memory hole along with the likes of Jiwan James and Austin Hyatt. I hope that clarifies the De Fratus Exemption, but if it doesn’t, then there’s nothing like having a bunch of confusing legalese to muddle and mystify the process!

Next awards (tomorrow or Thursday): Parallel Card and Parallel Series of the Year

Featured Cards: 2011 Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects #62, Michael Martínez; 2011 Phillies Team Issue No. 2 #40 (uniform number), Michael Stutes; 2011 Bowman Prospect Autographs #BPA-JD, Justin De Fratus