Predicting the future (part 2)
Last month I took a look at the 1987 Topps Future Stars. Today we’ll consider the 1988 choices and see how Topps fared in their stargazing efforts.
#8 Kevin Elster. A second round draft pick in 1984, Elster was a decent fielding shortstop but never could get his bat going. In 1988-89 he set a record for consecutive games without an error (88), but that was broken by Cal Ripken in 1990. His real claim to fame was a role in the 1994 movie, Little Big League, in which he played Pat Corning. Topps missed the mark on this “Future Star.” Current Beckett value: $0.05.
#18 Al Leiter. Wait a minute, that’s not Al Leiter! It’s Steve George. He never played in the majors. He doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page, poor guy. According to the real Al Leiter, the mix-up was due to the “SG” on Steve’s glove; Topps thought it was “56,” the uniform number assigned to Leiter. Topps decided to correct their mistake, making this one of the first mis-identified player cards corrected. Current Beckett value: $0.50.
#18 Al Leiter. Now that is Al Leiter. It took him a while, but Leiter finally started winning games around 1996 with Florida. That year he made the All-Star team and finished 9th in Cy Young voting. In 1998 with the Mets, Leiter again pitched well and received enough votes to finish 6th in Cy Young voting, and in 2000 was named to the All-Star team for a second time. Leiter’s star really shone in the postseason, with a career 8-3 record despite a 4.63 ERA with the Blue Jays, Marlins, Mets and Yankees. Definitley a minor star, so Topps didn’t completely whiff on this one. Current Beckett value: $0.50.
#246 Mike Campbell. In six seasons, Campbell finished with a 12-19 record with the Mariners, Rangers, Padres and Cubs. Ten of those losses came in 1988, along with a 5.89 ERA. No one would have predicted such a poor performance, though, considering Campbell was the 7th overall pick in 1985 and MVP of the Pacific Coast League in 1987. A good choice for a “Future Star,” but he never lived up to the hype. Current Beckett value: $0.05.
#312 Joey Meyer. Billed by some as the next Rob Deer (who wasn’t that good to begin with), Meyer burst onto the MLB scene in 1988 with 11 homers and 45 RBI in 103 games, but failed to receive any votes for Rookie of the Year. 1989 would be his last year in the bigs, with just 7 homers and 29 RBI in 53 games. Current Beckett value: $0.05.
#767 Jose Lind. Chico was not known for his bat, but his glove was fantastic. He won the 1992 Gold Glove for second base, committing only 6 errors. He was playful in the clubhouse, a jokester of sorts. But he had off-field problems, including drug abuse and domestic violence. One of the most embarrassing incidents may have been when he was caught driving without pants after leaving the scene of an accident. But on the field, he was a reliable defensive asset, and his glove helped him stick around the bigs for nine seasons. Current Beckett value: $0.25.
Overall, Topps didn’t fare too well in 1988. Leiter is the only real saving grace of this crop, but even his card is only a half-dollar. The players missed by Topps but picked up by others include Mark Grace and Ron Gant (hey, his first couple of years was pretty good at least). Tom Glavine was in the 1988 Topps set, sans the “Future Stars” banner. The whole set of prospects, including the error and corrected Leiter cards, can be had for less that most packs of cards today. Current Beckett value: $1.40.