Category Archives: Prospects

Whats’is: 2013 Bowman Inception Baseball

Say it ain’t so Bowman, say it ain’t so.  While I accept your Chrome cards, your Platinum effort, and the always hideous Sterling as a price to be paid for a solid base product, I can’t get behind this new thing you’re doing.  Inception?  Why?  Why do we need another ultra high end product?  I’m getting very tired of single pack boxes (if there is only one pack, it is called a PACK!) that sell for exorbitant sums.  We have enough of this with Topps Tier 1, Triple Threads, Museum Collection, etc.  It is unnecessary to expand this idea to the Bowman line.  I don’t want to drop $150 (or whatever it may cost) on the opportunity to get a couple high end cards of prospects who may or may not pan out.  It is one thing to give me the opportunity to get a Pujols or Mays autograph or a Ruth relic, but the chance to get a 1/1 Dylan Bundy is not selling me on the high end product.  The point of prospect collecting, at least in my eyes, is to invest a  reasonable amount now for a potential profit later, if I’m investing a lot now I want immediate returns.

Not to mention this awful design.  What’s with the clouds?  Is it raining prospects?  Are they supposed to be angels?  Bowman, you’ve abandoned all trappings of good design.  You need to rethink this.

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Christmas 2012: Just the hits please.

Another year, another Christmas box opened with my pop.  This is year 19 of our Christmas tradition and since we are a family of few traditions this is my favorite.  This years box: 2012 Bowman Draft Picks and Prospects.  DP&P is always a must buy, while I don’t recognize a lot of the names the prospector in me knows how important this product will be down the line if any of these guys turn into Pujols, Trout, or Harper since these are the first cards and autographs for many young players.  DP&P is essentially Bowman’s version of Update, so the design is identical to this years Bowman base, which  I find appealing with it’s large pictures, team coordinated borders and simple, silver foil text.

2012 Bowman Draft Picks and Prospects Bryce Harper

Valdespin, again.  If Valdespin becomes the next Jeter then I'm in the money with all Jordany RC's I've pulled this year.

Valdespin, again. If Valdespin becomes the next Jeter then I’m in the money with all the Jordany RC’s I’ve pulled this year.

Jeter's successor?  Probably not but a fella can hope.

Jeter’s successor? Probably not, but a fella can hope.

 

The Chrome cards, as is well known, are not my favorite but they are a good investment as they are generally worth 50% more than their non-metallic counterparts.  I’ve actually learned to love Chrome recently, as I’ve realized that reselling my Chrome pulls allows me to recoup some of my cost and keep my favorite players around in all their non-Chrome glory.

2012 Bowman Chrome Draft Picks & Prospects Yoenis Cespedes

Jesmuel.  I can't say it, but I like it.

Jesmuel. I can’t say it, but I like it.

We can’t forget abou the ever-present parallels, which also help increase the value of the product.  No big parallel pulls this time around.  (Don’t worry, there were hits…boy were there hits).

2012 Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects Blue Abe Ruiz

Blue Refractor

Blue Refractor

Silver Ice

Silver Ice

There is also a solid insert pairing old and new top draft picks, cleverly enough it is called Top Picks.  The cards are nice, featuring consitent black borders with silver and gold accents and blurbs on the back detailing the players as a pair.  These fall 1 in 6, so they are not tough pulls by any means but they do feature some bigger names and could get a few dollars on the secondary market.

2012 Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects Top Picks Jeter & Almora2012 Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects Harper & Hamilton

The hits, you say? The hits:

Bowman Black.

Bowman Black.

It took the whole Bowman season, but I finally pulled a Bowman Black Autograph.  I’m not familiar with Michael Wacha, but I do know what /25 means, so Merry Christmas to me.  The card itself is very thick, about 4x thicker than a normal card and is as clean and simple as what you see above.  I really love the silver ink autograph and the simplicity of the card, but there is a pretty big drawback: the condition.  The card has quite a bit of chipping on the edges which I would attribute to the black border and extreme thickness of the card.  I would say this grades an 8 out of the pack, which is unacceptable.  If anyone else had this problem leave a comment, I’d like to know how widespread this issue is.

I would have been satisfied with a single Bowman Black hit, but this was a bonus box, giving me this surprise:

Aflac.

Aflac.

High School All-American autos are a bit of a holy grail for me, there is no auto before these for most of these players and you often get a super cheesy photo out of the deal.  This is actually a 2008 Aflac All-American card, so the design is obviously different than the base set.  As you can see this was serial numbered out of 225, so they are relatively rare.  Zunino had a solid first season, hitting over .300 with 15 homes in 63 games between rookie ball, single A, and double A.

I also pulled a few codes for the Bowman Prospect Challenge.  This is basically a fantasy baseball game where you collect codes which gives you the opportunity to select players who will then accumulate stats over the course of next season.  All the players are prospects and it appears that bonus points will be given, in addition to normal stats based points, when players are promoted.  I’m a fantasy player and a card collector, so this is right up my alley.  Prizes are detailed on the game site.

Based on hits alone, I give this a 5/5.  Factoring in the design, inserts, and new-fangled Bowman fantasy baseball it is a 4.5/5, a worthy purchase for any prospector or autograph hound.

 

 

 

 

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Weekend Pickups

Part 1:  Accidental Purchases

I had to run some errands on Friday night, so I found myself at Target.  I am not capable of entering a Target without leaving with some cards, therefore I found myself in the card section.  I was contemplating getting a blaster box of Bowman Chrome but decided that it would be better not to spend $20 on a blaster, instead I decided on a few packs of BC.  I spotted a value pack (discussed herein) and figured that was the best bang for my buck.  Fast forward to the parking lot, I grab my pack out of the bag only to discover that what I grabbed was a value pack of Bowman Platinum.  I’m not a huge fan of BP this year (see previous post), so I thought about going back in and exchanging it but laziness got the better of me and I decided to open it.  Was I glad that I did.

Turns out that this value pack contained what I like to call a “retail superpack.”  A retail superpack is a retail pack that contains an autograph.  I suppose I could have just said I got an autograph, but why be simple when I can invent terms.  I got a Carter Capps autograph out of the pack, now I don’t know who Carter Capps is or if he is related to Matt Capps, but what I do know is that I got an on-card autograph of a Mariners prospect who threw 28 k’s in 25 innings with the big club this season and 19 saves along with a 13 k/9 in AA.  Seems like a solid performer and card worth holding on to.

Aside from a solid autograph I also pulled a few more interesting cards.  First, a Yu Darvish rookie card.  We all know about Darvish, so I’ll save any sort of analysis but i’m hoping to get a few bucks for it since I’m not a Rangers fan.  I also got a Wil Myers Top Prospect card.  Myers looks like he could go on to accomplish big things as a power hitting prospect in the Royals system.  Anecdotally, I watched him almost hit for the cycle in Tucson, putting solid contact on the ball every time he swung, statiscally he hit 37 bombs between AA and AAA along with an average over .300 and a 10% walk rate.  He’ll need to cut down on a high 20’s strikeout rate before he’s a star in the majors.  I also pulled a Troy Tulowitzki Cutting Edge Stars die-cut card.  This is another straight to eBay item given that I’m not a fan of Tulo or die-cuts, however as far as die-cuts go it’s fairly solid lacking the jagged edges that so often make them look stupid and horribly gimmicky.

The value pack also came with a bonus pack of Purple Refractor Prospect cards.  Nothing too exciting here, a couple of solid pitching prospects.  Hopefully something that will be interesting someday.

Shelby Miller

Matt Harvey

While it is still not favorite product, for reasons discussed previously, I can’t argue with good pulls, so overall this was pleasant mistake.

Part 2: Topps Update

I hadn’t purchased any packs of Update since it was released, so when  I found myself back at Target on Saturday I said to myself “no time like the present.”  I didn’t say that, but I wanted some so I got it.   The design is, of course, the Topps base design this year, so you know already if you like it.  I personally think it is solid as I mentioned in my Topps Mini post.  The draw of Update to me is always the rookies and the All-Star relics.  While I was disappointed on the relic front completely (I may have too high expectations for my two pack purchase), I did get a couple of interesting rookies.  First I got Trevor Bauer, who is a very exciting D-Backs prospect out of UCLA.  He has a crazy delivery and an even crazier warmup routine (look it up), but I’m afraid that his arm will explode ala Mark Prior in the next couple of years, so I’m prepared to enjoy watching him for the next couple of years because that is all we may get.

Don’t sleep on 174 k’s in 146 innings between the majors, AAA, and AA. Crazy numbers.

I also pulled a Jodany Valdespin rookie, not the most exciting player but, as I’ve said, the best name.  I do feel like I’ve seen this card before though…

Hmmm…

Maybe it’s because we have…

Reusing photos is bad form Topps, bad form.  Minus 3.

Aside from a few rookies, the rest of my interesting pulls were parallels.  One gold, one target exclusive red, and one gold sparkle.

Yadier Molina Gold

Rhiner Cruz Red.

Anibal Sanchez Gold Sparkle.

Finally, I just wanted to mention that the Oakland A’s yellow uniforms are the best in baseball.  I dare you to argue with me.

Part 3: Panini Prestige

My second target trip also resulted in a couple packs of 2012-13 Panini Prestige.  My dislike of Panini is well known, but I wanted to get a few packs of basketball because it’s basketball season and I’m starting to get excited.  Prestige, unfortunately, suffers from some of the normal Panini trappings, the cards are over-designed and they shift the emphasis off of the photography as whole and just focus on the player featured.  The base cards do use restraint in regards to logos and the bottom borders that contain the players name, so that is a plus.

The rookie cards, as always are the chase.  While the base design is tolerable, the rookie design is too busy.  I wish that Panini would have just used the base design for the rookies, having a different design destroys the continuity and makes it seem like a subset.  Subsets do not hold up over the years.  On a personal note, I was happy to get a Kyrie Irving rookie, while the second round picks have a place in the set, I’m tired of getting them.

Finally I pulled a couple inserts.  First was a Steve Nash Hardcourt Heroes.  I’ll never forgive Nash for going to the Lakers (if he wanted to win he should have gone to the Heat, at least they are not the Suns direct rival) and this card is ugly and it sucks.  Another generic, non-sense Panini insert.  Blech.  The other insert was a  Larry Bird/Magic Johnson Connections card.  This card, by all accounts, should be something I hate; the pictures are cut outs of the players and the card is busy.  But I like it.  The images are of younger Bird and Magic, the foil logo gives it a nice touch and they way the players are off-set is pleasing to the eye.  Another surprising design success by Panini.  Maybe there is hope.

Prestige boasts a solid checklist, featuring this and last years rookies as well as autographs of past, present, and future stars.  The design is tolerable but not special.  Panini needs to look at classic sports card design and get away from gimmicky, 90’s cards to really get it right.  Overall, 3/5.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Cards for Sale

I try not to make my blog too commercial, but I’d feel a bit remiss if I didn’t try to help myself here.

Please check out my eBay auctions.  I recently had a bunch of Mike Trout stuff graded and am now selling a bit of it.  There is also quite a few other items for sale at the moment.

Check it out.

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Retail Pickup: 2012 Bowman Chrome

‘Tis Chrome season.  First Topps then Bowman.  While Chrome is not my favorite color, I do love Bowman so I was more excited about last weeks release then I was about Topps Chrome a few weeks earlier.  I thoroughly enjoyed this years Bowman design.  It had clean lines as usual, quality photography, and nice borders.  While I prefer the non-Chrome version, I appreciate the design even at it’s shiniest.

I decided to forego a box of Chrome (I’m saving my remaining yearly box money for Bowman Draft Picks) and did not have time to hit up the local card shop, so I settled for a value pack from the local retail outlet.  The value pack includes three packs and bonus pack of green refractor cards.  The packs contain three cards each, with one being a prospect.  The package advertises a “bonus pack of 3 green bordered xfractor propspect parallel cards,” but they are lying they are not all prospects and they are not xfractors.  I will forgive them for their oversight, but only because I couldn’t stop buying Bowman if I wanted to.

Here’s the haul:

Green Refractors of Gio Gonzalez, Jason Heyward, JaDamion Williams.  Nothing too exciting here, two minor star types and a speedy prospect with potential to move up in the Twins organization.

Is it just me or did Jason Heyward age 15 years?

All-Star Futures Game Tommy Joseph insert.  These inserts are are moderately tough pulls at 1:12.  It would have been much nicer if it had been the relic version.  As for the design itself, I find it to be overly stylized and busy.  It’s a definite eBay listing in my book, though I’m not sure the market exists for Joseph.

Jordanny Valdespin rookie.  Best. Name. In. Baseball.

Jordaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaany Valdespiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiin!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Base cards of Paul Goldschmidt, Nelson Cruz, Dan Haren, and Yunel Escobar.  I’m a big fan of Goldschmidt.  He reminds me of Adam LaRoche with more upside and hitting at Chase Field could mean some monster home run seasons when he fully develops his power.  The D-Backs are my NL team, so I’m hoping that him and Justin Upton can really come together in the next few years to get the D-Backs back in contention.  By the way, what the hell happened to Dan Haren, he fell off a cliff.  His groundball rate is down, his home run rate is up, and he’s walking a lot more guys.  Truly a recipe for disaster.  I’m wondering if he’ll bounceback or if this is it considering he’s 32.

Finally, prospect cards of Roberto De La Cruz, Lane Adams, and Jamal Austin.  I don’t any of these guys by name or reputation.  Basing my opinion completely off the information contained on the back of the cards I would say that De La Cruz is the most interesting.  He is a 20 year old third baseman out of the D.R.  He’s a power hitter who looks like he could stick at third.  The last time the Cardinals had a Dominican power hitting third baseman in the minors he turned out to be Albert Pujols.  Wishful thinking I suppose.

I love this years Bowman design and the checklist is solid, including multiple autograph sets (a must in a Bowman product), Futures Games Relics, and Futures Game Hat redemptions (this is where they send you a dude’s hat, pretty sweet), so I’ll give it a 4/5.  The value pack was a decent value even if the cards weren’t Harpers or Trouts and I would recommend it for those on a budget.

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2012 Bowman Platinum, or is it 2011

2012 Bowman Platinum, looks a lot like 2011 Bowman Platinum.  Was the product popular enough that it didn’t necessitate a new design? Doubtful.  This feels like laziness to me.

2011

vs.

2012

Now, I know that every set has its hallmarks.  I know that Topps wants to create brand recognition, but they have done nothing to improve upon 2011 Bowman Platinum, or 2010 for that matter.  And I’ll go on record and say that the 2011 design wasn’t anything special.  The cards are “shiny” which means they’re working from a disadvantage to begin with, then add to that awful modern, “high-end”, borders and pictures which play a secondary role, and you have a recipe for sh*t cards.  Bowman Platinum is a mid-range prospecting set, so I understand that people aren’t buying them for the design, they are buying them for the prospects, but Topps could at least take the time to make improvements and changes to make the new issue interesting.

Beyond not changing the design, Topps didn’t even both to chang the chase cards, which include different colored cards, ala the Fleer Precious Metal Gems, that are butt-ugly.  There has never been an aesthetically pleasing card, in my estimation, that takes a picture and makes the background a shiny green mess.  Bowman Platinum includes gold, emerald, and ruby cards that are inserted at various rates.

I suppose calling those “chase” cards may be an over-statement, especially when people who buy Platinum are doing it for the prospects.  Topps satiates this need by falling back on their Prospects insert set and prospect autographs.  However, in this way, Platinum necessarily takes a step back from last year.  Last year was Harper-mania, this year is Trout-mania.  2011 Platinum included a bunch of interesting Harper related chase cards.  2012 Platinum includes Trout cards and Harper cards, which are cool, but a year late.  These aren’t first time prospect cards and won’t elicit the same reaction as the Harpers did last year.  There just isn’t the same prospecting class this year as there was last year.  Though you never know who will take off and become a star, so maybe I’ll eat my words in five years.

I purchased a $10 value pack of Platinum at Target.  It included three packs and a special pack with purple prospect cards.  The pack is a good deal, even if I’m not a huge fan of the product.  As mentioned herein the design is similar to last year, so if you liked last years design, you’ll like this years.  I see no reason to get into it any further than that.  I pulled a gold Mike (ahem…Giancarlo) Stanton card and a Miguel Sano Prospect refractor.  Interestingly, all the cards in this years set are refractors, so the non-colored refractors have this interesting texture on the cards.  It is kind of a rough texture and is a bit distracting.  If Topps wants to go all refractors that is fine, but at that point just use colors to differentiate because the texture bit is not good design.  (Sano is a solid prospect, so this card, despite its odd texture, may have been my best pull, only time will tell).  The purple cards are dreck, but maybe at some point one of the prospects will be the next Derek Jeter and then I’ll get all excited about my purple card.  Maybe.

It might be hard to tell, but it’s bumpy. Bumpy is not the best texture.

Overall, Platinum is exactly the same product as last year but with a less exciting prospecting class.  The autographs are the main draw (see checklist), so I’d suggest buying a box if you’re interested, buying packs is not likely to net you with anything other than some base cards and a few parallels. If you have the money it’s probably worth waiting for Sterling and if you don’t have the money I’d still recommend waiting for Draft Picks and Prospects.  Either one of those products will offer the same prospecting fun, but with the added benefit of getting a true high end card or a true first professional card, respectively.  Platinum, as a mid-range, mid-season, product just doesn’t hold a candle in any regard to the other Bowman products.  Grade: 2.5/5

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Hoops Revisited

My dad decided he wanted to open some Hoops packs to satiate his need for rookie cards.  So I got a second round of 2012-13 Hoops today.

I can’t say that my impressions changed in any apprciable way but I did get to lay eyes on a couple different inserts, which were nice, and a bunch of the extended rookie crop.  So I thought it was worth a followup post.

First, the inserts.  I pulled two Franchise Greats cards, John Stockton and Larry Bird.  Larry Bird is the Mickey Mantle of basketball cards and I have no doubt that I’ll make a few bucks on eBay anytime I see his face, so the card made me happy.  The design itself is my favorite of all the Hoops designs this year.  It is nice and clean, with team coordinated borders and nice photography.  The hoops logo is not too-big and the stars are kept to a minimum.  Solid job, Hoops.  John Stockton’s shorts are short, go figure.  I’m not regrading Hoops as a whole, but this insert set is a 4/5.

The other new, to me, insert was a Rookie Standout card.  The one I got was MarShon Brooks.  Not much to say about the card.  Not as hideous as the Spark Plug set, but not my favorite.  I appreciate full action shots, and like the simple text and border design (if you’re going to err, err on the side of simplicity), but the border is a little big and intrusive.

This card brings me to an aside.  I love the new Nets logo.  Black and white is under-utilized in sports.  I think teams think that it is too generic, but it is so clean.  The logo has a great retro feel and I think merchandise sales will be off the charts.  People love Brooklyn.  As a basketball fan without an official favorite team the sweet logo may just sway me in Brooklyn’s direction.  If they can sign Dwight Howard next off-season there will be no question, especially if the Suns continue in their current direction, both in terms of talent and awful logo design.

Cool.

Not cool.

Finally,  I got the Derrick Williams rookie card I’ve been after.  Two of them, in fact.  I still want an autograph.  But it’s nice to pull a player I’m collecting.  I sincerely hope that Minnesota can utilize William’s talents this season.  Last season was kind of disappointing with him backing up Kevin Love and not getting a lot of minutes.  He has the talent, he can shoot from outside, he can finish around the rim, he just needs an opprotunity.  I’m not sure the T-Wolves are looking to give him that opportunity, though.  They traded Beasley, which looked like Minnesota opening up a spot for Williams, but then immdediately signed Andrei Kirilenko, which put another forward in front of Williams on the depth-chart.  If the Wolves aren’t going to utilize an offensively gifted player like Williams, they might as well trade him.  Maybe to Brooklyn.  Good logo, good player.

I pulled a few other rookies, including a some of this years crop.  Notably Harrison Barnes and Bernard James.  Barnes has been called ‘boring’ by some basketball personalities.  I can see it and I can see disliking him for the same reasons I like Tim Duncan, which is the same reason I don’t befriend machines.  Personality is a must, especially in the hobby.  Do something crazy Harrison.  What?  I don’t know.  You think it up, but make it good.  I also pulled Bernard James, who spent six years in the Air Force before playing a few years at Florida State, which makes him a super old rookie.  Bold prediction: he will not be a star but will be lauded for his maturity.  Quote me on that.  Also, who fitted him for that suit, it’s like four sizes too small.  Don’t get me wrong, baggy is worse, but if you’re going to get a tailored suit you shouldn’t look like you’re about to bust out of it like the Hulk.

BTW, 13 packs produced three first year rookies.  Anyone else pulling them at this rate?  If so, they are definitely short printed.

 

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Profar Progood

My favorite Profar card, because I own it, 2011 Bowman Platinum Prospects Xfractor

Jurickson Profar hit a home run in his first major league at bat.  I’m not going off a limb to say I expect big things from this kid.  I’m just wondering whether it will be in Texas or somewhere else.  With Elvis Adrus blocking him at short, the only options are to trade Andrusor move him to another position, but will he really displace Kinsler or Beltre?

As far as cardboard is concerned, Profar has been featured in most of major prospect sets and insert sets (see Bowman, Bowman’s Brightest, Topps 100), so his cards are easy to come by at the moment and are relatively inexpensive.  Unless he really gets some major power numbers I don’t see his cards attaining Trout or Harper status, but now is still the time to buy because next season could really be a breakout for him.

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Letterpress baseball cards, postcard-size.

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Musings of a Card Collector

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