2002 Donruss Team Heroes #209 Jose Cueto

Not too often do I come across a Cubs baseball card of someone that escapes my memory. However, that did happen today during data entry.

Card 3,864 in my database was quickly entered. As I began to type in the last name, I did a double take. This 2003 Donruss Team Heroes card was not Jose Ceda. There’s a Marlins logo on the card. Maybe I mixed in the wrong card to my Cubs collection. It was neither Ceda, nor a mistake.

Jose Cueto spent time in the Chicago Cubs organization, but never in Wrigley Field. Not even a game in Major League Baseball as a matter of fact. Who was Jose Cueto?

That question perplexed me. Not only do I have a photographic memory of Cubs players, I have closely followed its prospects since the mid-1990s. So, who was Jose Cueto?

A trip to Baseball Reference led me with a couple more questions than answers. Cueto never appeared with the Chicago Cubs, topping out at AA West Tennessee in 2001 and 2004.

My 2003 Donruss Team Heroes card denoted “traded to Florida Marlins.” Now I was curious as to which trade he was involved in. A Google search led to the answer.

Cueto was traded to the Marlins on March 27, 2002 with Julian Tavarez, Dontrelle Willis, and Ryan Jorgensen for Antonio Alfonseca and Matt Clement.

He spent the 2002 season in AA with Portland and 2003 with AA Carolina in the Marlins system, then returned to the Cubs in 2004 playing with West Tennessee (5-3, 3.22 ERA, 43K/35BB).

The Jose Cueto mystery solved. And that’s the fun in cataloguing my Cubs collection. Uncovering cards I overlooked and learning more about this wonderful baseball franchise.

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