Thursday, April 25, 2013

'64/'13 Counterparts: Card #94

1964 Topps #94 Jim Britton/Larry Maxie

Courted by almost every major league team as he was coming out of high school, Larry Maxie signed with the Braves for a reported $60,000. The bonus baby began his professional career in 1958 at Eau Claire of the Northern League (Class C), where he went 1-5 with a 6.38 ERA. His struggles continued for his second and third seasons as well, and his first taste of success in the minors wouldn't happen until 1961-where he went 17-7 with a 2.08 ERA for the Austin Senators of the Texas League (AA). The big righty also threw two no-hitters that season- only the third pitcher in league history to throw multiple no-no's in a season.

Maxie injured his arm the next season and only appeared in 15 games at AAA Louisville. Returning to AAA in 1963, he pitched in 29 games for the Toronto Maple Leafs with moderate success-giving him hope for a gig in the majors during the 1964 season.

As a veteran of six professional seasons, and viewed as one of the most advanced pitchers in the Braves system, Maxie had to like his chances of making the roster out of spring training. But a rough outing against their Triple-A Denver team on March 10 was a big blow to his chances of making the big league club. Pitching the final two innings of the scrimmage, Maxie took the loss against the Bears as he allowed five hits, two walks, and three runs. One week later, the pitcher was re-assigned to Denver. He would toil at AAA for the next eight seasons, with his only major league time coming in 1969- pitching in two games (3 innings) for the division winning Braves.

Entering the 1964 season, his third as a professional, Jim Britton had not won a game in the pros. After going 0-1 for Class D Bluefield in 1962, and 0-6 between Class A Greenville and Class A Boise during 1963, Britton began the '64 campaign at Class A Yakima of the Northwest League. Britton would go 12-7 at that final stop in Class A, but would suffer from command issues- averaging 5.3 BB/9 and posting a 1.643 WHIP.

2013 Heritage #94

So Topps changed it up a little and included a couple of Reds on card #94 in this year's Heritage set. Cingrani's good start may have some collectors scrambling to pick up his rookie cards, but I'll pass. If I were coming up with the checklist, I would have made this card instead:

After going 2-4 in eight games as a starter for rookie-level Danville last summer, Sims, the Braves 1st round pick in 2012, is being used as a reliever for Class A Rome during his first full professional season. While some might view the move as a surprise, the Braves certainly have their reasons. As the fourth-youngest player in the Sally League, the Braves are simply using this as an opportunity in his development- experience that time spent in extended spring training couldn't give him. While his first five outings have been rough (9.1 IP, 6 Hits, 10 Runs (8 earned), 9 walks, 2 hit batsman), Sims is only 18- and young pitchers usually experience such struggles.

Cabrera, Lucas' teammate at Rome, has been far more effective. In his first four starts, the 19 year-old native of the Dominican Republic, is 1-2 while allowing 7 earned runs in 19.2 innings. Like Sims, he too has command issues (14 walks, 4 hit batsman)- but also figures to be a top of the rotation starter down the road.

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