Monday, July 13, 2015

#451 Ramon Caraballo, Jon Shave, Brent Gates, and Quinton McCracken

About the Front: Woah, Brent Gates was only in A-ball in 1992? The A's pushed him hard in 1993, as he spent most of the year in the big leagues.

About the Back: Let me try to fill in the blanks on these prospects, and at least give you their 1992 minor league stats. Caraballo batted .287/.338/.382 with 29 steals (in 51 tries, yuck) while splitting time between AA Greenville and AAA Richmond. Shave hit .287/.343/.373 at AA Tulsa. Gates had a line of .321/.414/.465 with 39 doubles and 88 RBI at high-A Modesto. And McCracken batted .280/.347/.353 in 67 games at low-A Bend, with 18 steals in 24 attempts.

Triple Play:

1. Aside from a six-game stint as a pinch runner and defensive replacement with the Braves in 1993, Ramon Caraballo's lone big league experience came in 1995, when he batted .202/.269/.323 in 34 games with the Cardinals. In recent years, he's coached for the Orioles' Dominican Summer League club.

2. Jon Shave had an interesting stat line for his 17-game introduction with the Rangers in 1993. He batted .319, but drew no walks and had a pair of sac flies and three bunts, giving him an on-base percentage of just .306. He didn't re-emerge in the majors until 1998, when he played 19 games in Minnesota. He returned to Texas in 1999, batting .288 in 43 games while playing all over the infield. He spent the following two years at AAA (Oklahoma City in 2000, Pawtucket in 2001) before retiring.

3. Gates is the star of this group, relatively speaking. He jumped to the bigs in 1993 after a dozen games each at AA and AAA. Though he played seven seasons in MLB, he peaked as a rookie, hitting .290/.357/.391 with 29 doubles, seven homers, and 69 RBI. He had an OPS+ of 107, but didn't top 89 in any other season with Oakland, Seattle, and Minnesota. He managed the West Michigan Whitecaps, a low-level affiliate of the Tigers, in 2001. After leaving baseball, he began working in insurance in Grand Rapids, MI.

3a. Quinton McCracken actually played in parts of 12 major league seasons, spanning from 1995 through 2006 with the Rockies, Devil Rays, Twins, Diamondbacks, Mariners, and Reds. He was just a Marlins stint short of representing every 1990s expansion team. 2002 was his standout year, as he batted .309/.367/.458 (107 OPS+) in 400 plate appearances with Arizona. He also collected four hits in 11 at-bats (.364) in the Diamondbacks' NLDS loss to the Cardinals that fall. Quinton worked in player development for Arizona in 2011-2012, and has been the Astros' Director of Player Development since 2013.

11-Year-Old Kevin Says: Of all of the prospects on these four-player cards, I'm glad that somebody named "Quinton McCracken" was on the fringes of the major leagues for more than a decade.

Bill James Said: Caraballo - "Mark Lemke is not exactly Roberto Alomar, but Caraballo's batting average wouldn't be a lot better than Lemke's, he has no power, and his poor strikeout/walk ratio and stolen base percentages are significant liabilities."

Shave - "An unspectacular talent, 26 years old with no power and limited speed, but a good fielder with good work habits, and should hit around .275."

Gates - "An argument can be made that a good second baseman who hits .290 with collateral contributions has had a better rookie season than an outfielder who hits 30 homers." It certainly sounds like Bill would've considered voting for Gates (who finished sixth in Rookie of the Year balloting) over Tim Salmon.

On This Date in 1993: July 13. MLB Players Association chief Donald Fehr warns of a possible player strike in September if negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement between ownership and players don't start gaining momentum. The 1993 season remained intact, but we wouldn't be so lucky in 1994.


  1. Just saw your blog for the first time. 1993 Topps was a great set.

  2. Thank you! It's a lot of fun to write.