Who is this? Boston Red Sox Catcher/Slugger Ryan Lavarnway. What is this? An autograph card from 2010 Bowman Topps 100 insert set. Where'd I get it? I got this card signed by Ryan when he was a member of the Pawtucket Red Sox in July 2011. How much did it cost? I think I paid 25 cents or so for it at a card show last spring. Oddly, I have seen far fewer of Lavarnway's Topps 100 cards than just about any other card. I am not sure if it is a secret short-print or someone is hoarding them, but I just don't see as many of them as I expect to.
Why is this so special? Ryan Lavarnway might be the best slugger to come out of the Red Sox farm system in a generation. A sixth-round pick out of Yale in 2008, Ryan has quickly risen through the ranks, smashing Minor League pitching at every stop.
Ryan hit 21 homeruns with the Greenville Drive in 2009; 22 homeruns with the Salem Red Sox and Portland SeaDogs in 2010; and 32 homeruns with the Portland SeaDogs and Pawtucket Red Sox in 2011, before making his Major League debut with Boston, where he smashed two more.
But, while his bat has been impressive, the lingering question with Lavarnway has been: where he will play defensively? Originally an outfielder in college, Lavarnway moved behind the plate at Yale to boost his draft stock. And, although his catching skills have improved since joining the organization, many scouts still doubt that he will ever be more than a below-average catcher, defensively.
Ryan's immediate future is likely to be determined by two factors: Will the Red Sox offer up the cash to re-sign David Ortiz this off-season? And how long will Jason Varitek continue to play with the Red Sox? If either of them depart, Ryan could find himself with Boston on Opening Day 2012.
Ryan has a very nice and consistent signature, which shows works well on this card. He is usually a better-than-average signer before and after games, and definately worth trying to get if he returns to Triple-A to begin the 2012 season.
I'm only putting autograph-related links in this blogroll. However, if you have a blog or a collector site not specifically about autographs, but with an autograph page or an "autograph" label on your blog posts, I'll put that link here.