Orioles Card "O" the Day

An intersection of two of my passions: baseball cards and the Baltimore Orioles. Updated daily?

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Mike Belfiore, 2014 Topps Heritage #74

Last night I opened a blister pack of 2014 Heritage that I'd grabbed at Target while Easter basket shopping a week earlier. The lone Oriole among those 30 cards was a guy whose O's career lasted all of a single 1.1 inning relief appearance last September. I was pleasantly surprised to see Mike Belfiore sneak onto the checklist for this set; I'd assumed that he'd be just another obscure player who wouldn't be represented in my team collection.

The quick and dirty on Belfiore, in case he escaped your attention in 2013: He was a first-round compensatory pick by the Diamondbacks out of Boston College back in 2009. Three years later, Arizona traded him to the Birds for failed third base prospect Josh Bell. The lefty finished the 2012 season with a 2.71 ERA in 40 relief appearances, including a 2.85 mark in 28 games at AA Bowie. Mike struck out 10.6 men per nine innings, and had a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 3-to-1. The Orioles were sufficiently impressed, adding him to the 40-man roster at the end of the year. He spent most of 2013 at AAA Norfolk, with similarly encouraging numbers: a 3.18 ERA in 37 games (76.1 innings), 9.7 K/9 IP, and 2.83 K/BB. Belfiore actually got promoted to the majors on three separate occasions last year, but had to wait until the last of those callups to make his big league debut.

On September 27, 2013, he was called upon with two outs in the eighth inning and the visiting Red Sox leading 8-3. David Ortiz greeted him rudely with a three-run homer , and the southpaw walked Mike Napoli before Daniel Nava grounded into a force play at second base. Returning for the ninth inning, Mike served up a first-pitch homer to Jonny Gomes to push Boston's lead to 12-3. The rookie settled down from there, sandwiching a single between a popout and a double-play grounder to leave his earned run average at 13.50. Flash forward to the beginning of the current season, when the O's designated Belfiore for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster for Evan Meek and Delmon Young. He was claimed by the Tigers and assigned to AAA Toledo, where the 25-year-old has had a rough go of it thus far (7 ER in 8.2 IP). But for all of that, he did get his name and face on a card...even if he did have to share it with some other bozo.


Zach said...

I got a rack pack of this set, and it's really hard not to love. Topps did well.

j.c. said...

Belfiore is also in the Topps Retail Team Set. Frankly, it's super-disappointing that he's got two cards as an Oriole, for his 1.1 innings of work and one game, including a card that came out in April, well after he did not make the team.

The Topps Team Set does not include Tommy Hunter, Ubaldo Jimenez, Nelson Cruz, or Ryan Flaherty. It has yet another Nolan Reimold. Flaherty still does not have a major league baseball card.

Mike Belfiore has two.

Kevin said...

Zach - I'm taking the plunge soon and buying a box. Haven't bought a hobby box of Heritage since 2008.

JC - I didn't realize he was in the retail team set too. That's weird.