Topps has been honoring the players voted onto the team since 1959, first by the "youth of America" to the 30 MLB managers (the way it is done today). And what better way for Topps to end their 2005 product year by thrusting upon the masses a set that featured 150 players who were named to this exclusive club. There were plenty of little things in this set that made collectors everywhere scratch their head...including:
- the exclusion of the first 10 players (from 1959) in this set (what...Topps couldn't get Willie McCovey to sign in for this set???)
- a 150-card reprint set that included six players with what eventually became the 2006 Topps design (what would these cards be called...pre-prints???)
- the fact that the set was primarily sequenced by year honored except for card #6 (Jonny Gomes, 2005???)
- ten cards of "first-year players" that were not only shortprinted, but autographed as well.
The ten players Topps added to the 2005 Topps Rookie Cup set were:
- J. Brent Cox, P, New York Yankees
- John Drennen, OF, Cleveland Indians
- Ryan Tucker, P, Florida Marlins
- Yunel Escobar, SS, Atlanta Braves
- Joseph Marceaux, P, Florida Marlins
- Mark Pawelek, P, Chicago Cubs
- Brandon Snyder, C, Baltimore Orioles
- Wade Townsend, P, Tampa Bay Devil Rays
- Troy Tulowitzki, SS, Colorado Rockies
- Kevin Whelan, P, Detroit Tigers
James Brent Cox (J Brent) was cruising along the path to New York when injuries kept him out of the game in 2007. Starting from scratch in 2008, he is once again climbing the ladder, making stops in both Trenton (AA) and Scranton Wilkes-Barre (AAA) both years. He went 0-3 in 17 games before shutting it down at the end of June.
In five seasons, the furthest John Drennen has gotten in the minors is Akron (AA). Drennen played in 93 games in the outfield, hitting .274 with 8 home runs and 40 rbi's.
Ryan Tucker made his major league debut with the Marlins in 2008, appearing in 13 games, with a record of 2-3, an 8.27 ERA, and 28 strikeouts in 37 innings of work. Tucker played in New Orleans (AAA) in 2009.
Yunel Escobar is currently the Atlanta Braves' starting shortstop. In 2009, he is hitting a strong .303, with 14 home runs, 68 rbi's, and an OPS of .826 (as of September 20, 2009). Although he finished sixth in the NL Rookie of the Year voting in 2007, Escobar was not selected to the Topps All-Star Rookie Team.
Jacob Marceaux was released by the Marlins in 2009. He just signed with the Chicago White Sox, and was able to get into a game this September with Birmingham (AA). In the Marlins minor league system, he went 14-26 in 112 games.
Mark Pawelek got as far as Rockford (A) in the Midwest League. Otherwise, he has been spending the last five years between injuries and the Cubs' A-Single Season team and A-Rookie team. The Cubs' 2005 first round draft pick was released in 2009, signing on with the Reds soon afterwards.
Brandon Snyder has been climbing the ranks of Baltimore's minor league system these past five seasons. Now with Norfolk (AAA) and playing first base, he found himself playing 73 games this year, hitting .248 with 2 home runs and 48 rbi's in 2009.
Wade Townsend was let go by the Rays organization in August this year. Injuries have stalled his career, the latest being a torn labrum playing in the Arizona Fall League that knocked him out in 2009. He did play in three games for the Tampa Rookie Team before being released.
After 42 saves in 76 appearances in the Tigers' minor league system, Kevin Whelan found himself traded to the New York Yankees the day before was to be married at the end of the 2006 season. An incredibly dominant reliever in the Yankees' minor leagues, he went 4-0 with an ERA of 2.67 with 3 saves and 85 strikeouts between Trenton (AA) and Scranton Wilkes-Barre (AAA) in 2009.
Wait...I'm forgetting someone here...Oh yeah!!!
Troy Tulowitzki made his major league debut in 2006, and had a breakout rookie season in 2007. That year, he hit .291 with 24 home runs and 99 rbi's, and an OPS of .838. He and the Rockies ended the 2007 season on an incredible 19-1 run, becoming the surprise NL Wild Card winners. They carried over their late season dominance into the playoffs, muscling their way past both the Phillies and NL West champion Diamondbacks before facing the Boston Red Sox in the World Series. Tulowitzki finished second in the NL Rookie of the Year voting (losing out to the Brewers' Ryan Braun. However, Troy was voted onto the 2007 Topps All-Star Rookie Team.
So out of ten first year players, one player did become a part All-Star Rookie Team. At least Topps got something right. Anything less would have been an embarrassment.
On an unrelated note, I am going to announce a contest regarding this year's All-Star Rookie Team before the season is over. The prize? The first 150 cards of the 2005 Topps Rookie Cup set. Stay tuned.