I haven't done a theme week in a while, and this one should be fun. As I discussed way back with Dave Crouthers, the rookiemania that gripped the card collecting hobby with its icy talons during the Nineties led to a lot of "rookie cards" for players who would never make a major league roster. So this week I'm highlighting cards of Orioles who never were. First up is first baseman Leo Daigle.
You might think I'm being a bit hasty in dismissing Leo. If he was considered a prospect just last year, the jury is still out, right? Well, it's safe to say that the fine folks at Topps were the only ones who considered him a prospect. He was almost 28 by the time these cards rolled out. His bio even mentions that he's been with three different organizations (Tigers, White Sox, and O's) since 1998. Well, at 6'3" and 220 pounds, at least he cuts an imposing figure. Plus, the card back mentions his impressive .341-29 HR-112 RBI batting line at Winston-Salem, though it doesn't specify the year. Let's see...baseball-reference.com puts it in 2005. He even won the Carolina League Triple Crown...not bad. But that was his fourth season in high-A ball, and he was promoted to AAA Charlotte at the end of the season, where he had a less gaudy .220-2-8 line in 25 games.
This brings us to Daigle's 2006 campaign at Baltimore's AA affiliate, the Bowie Baysox: .233-15-63. If you're wondering why Topps wasted one of their "prospect" inserts (a loophole they used to get around MLB's stringent new rookie card rules) on Leo, you don't know the half of it. The card back actually mentions that the Orioles released him in 2006! That appears to have signaled the end of Leo Daigle's nine-year minor league odyssey, in which he played in nine cities from Kannapolis to Toledo. 978 games, only 26 of them at AAA. He racked up 352 extra-base hits in all of those games.
Let's offer up a slow, sarcastic clap to Topps for choosing a 27-year-old first baseman who had already been released after hitting .233 at AA as a "prospect". I realize that the Birds haven't exactly had a robust farm system lately, but come ON.