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Bob D’Angelo

Bob is a longtime member of the Florida sports media, having served as a reporter and copy editor for more than 30 years. His true sports passion, however, is the history of the various games, exhibited by his in-depth book reviews and hobby of collecting cards and other sports memorabilia. He blogs for on both subjects, transferring his work for the Tampa Tribune to the realm of cyberspace.

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Collect call: 2013 Topps Pro Debut baseball

Posted Jul 14, 2013 by Bob D'Angelo

Updated Jul 14, 2013 at 10:00 AM

Topps Pro Debut is a fun set to collect, because there is so much to learn about these young minor-league players who someday could be playing in the majors. Those baseball fans following prospects and minor-leaguers will have a field day.

There are 24 packs in a hobby box, and Topps promises two autograph cards, a patch card and a relic card.  The base set contains 220 cards, and there are 15 variations, including one of Tampa Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez, a 20-year-old minor-leaguer who has hit 13 homers this season.

The design is the similar as Topps’ flagship product, Series 1, 2 and Update, and that provides a nice consistency.

I have a good time going through the set. I enjoy the team names, like the Altoona Curve, Fort Wayne Tincaps, Lansing Lugnuts, Inland Empire 66ers, Northwest Arkansas Naturals.

There are some great player names, too, like Roughned Odor, Chih Fang Pan, Jabari Blash, Michael Choice and Michael Goodnight.

You can even look for guys with a local angle, whether they were born in the area (Lance McCullers and Keon Barnum, Tampa; Jameson Taillon, Winter Haven; Keon Broxton, Lakeland) or live in the area (Barnum, King High).

And come on, did you expect to find two players in the same set named Keon, who happened to be from this area? Amazing.

If you are a fan of 1960s music, you will smile if you pull the card of Mason Williams (do you remember “Classical Gas”? Then you are as old as I am …).

There are some second generation players with Jr. in their name, like McCullers, Shawon Dunston, and Delino DeShields.  There’s even a Mike Piazza, a pitcher out of Florida Tech that Topps says is a distant relative of the former major-league catcher. Other sources say a he’s distant cousin.

The hobby box I opened yielded 187 of the 220 base cards. Thirty of them had “Pro Debut” stamped in silver foil in the upper right-hand corner of the card. There also was a gold parallel card of Blash, numbered to 50.

As promised, there were two autographs in the hobby box. The first one was a sticker signature card of pitcher Austin Wright of the Clearwater Threshers. Wright, who has since been promoted to Double-A Reading of the Eastern League, went 12-5 last season for the Threshers, with 133 strikeouts (against 60 walks) in 27 games.

The second autograph was another sticker signature card, this time Danville Braves shortstop Jose Peraza (who has since been promoted to the Rome Braves of the South Atlantic League).

There was one basic memorabilia card: a Material Relic of Arkansas Travelers pitcher Ariel Pena, a nice dark blue swatch.

The second relic was a manufactured Mascot Patch card of Lou E. Loon of the Great Lakes Loons, numbered to 120.

I did not find any in the hobby box I sampled, but Pro Debut does pay tribute to the 25th anniversary of the movie “Bull Durham” with 1/1 cut autographs of four of the stars: Kevin Costner, Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins and Robert Wuhl.

While that would have been icing on the cake, there was still plenty of nice cards in Pro Debut to keep a set builder and collector of minor-league cards happy.

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