Three weeks into his major league career, Rafael Devers has risen from Red Sox savior to rookie phenom. National attention has made his early baseball cards must haves for rookie card collectors.
In desperate need for a power hitting third baseman, the Red Sox turned to Devers instead of acquiring a veteran slugger. The 20-year-old Dominican Republic native responded by slugging eight home runs and 16 RBI while batting .364 in his first 20 games. His major league debut came too late in the season to be included in any 2017 baseball card sets, so Devers cards bearing the official “RC” logo will be issued in 2018 base sets. In the meantime, prospect collectors can choose from over 700 Devers insert, subset, and parallel cards.
The 2014 Bowman Chrome Draft series is the first to include Devers. As part of the “Top Prospects” subset, he is featured in full MLB gear — three years before his debut. The shiney chrome versions are among the hobby’s most popular cards, selling for $8 with more limited Refractor versions getting $18. Also featuring early cards of Mookie Betts, Kris Bryant, Aaron Judge, Jose Abreu, and Jacob deGrom among others, 2014 Bowman Chrome is a must for prospect collectors.
Devers’ national spotlight grew brighter in mid August when the rising star slugged a game-tying ninth inning home run off Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman before a national television audience. Devers followed his Yankee Stadium heroics by becoming just the 35th player since 1913 to record a two-homer game before turning 21, joining the likes of Ted Williams, Willie Mays, Mel Ott, Mike Trout, and Carlos Correa. The light shined even brighter the following night when Devers triggered an around-the-horn triple play before the Fenway crowd, the 31st triple play in Red Sox history.
Increased national attention means increased interest in Devers certified autographed cards. Although the Devers 2015 Bowman Chrome “Prospects Autograph” isn’t his first autographed card, it is the most coveted. Complete with MLB markings and logos, the on-card autograph is selling for $200 with Refractor versions commanding as much as $400. Known as “Home of the Rookie Card”, the Bowman name enhances early autographed cards of baseball’s rising stars.
Devers initially caught the eye of Red Sox scouts at the age of 14. Considered the top left-handed hitter among international free agents two years later, Devers signed a $1.5 million contract with the Red Sox. After dominating the Dominican Summer League and making the Gulf Coast League All-Star team, Devers sports his Greenville Drive Red Sox uniform in the 2015 Topps Heritage series. For minor league and oddball card collectors, this is a great buy for $3. His 2015 Choice minor league card takes the traditional approach of local distribution. The card is rather simple in design, but a limited print run makes it highly coveted for $15. Because of the minimal gloss on the card fronts, minor league cards are ideal for in-person autographs.
Devers has already made a significant impact in Red Sox history. Earlier in the month major league baseball’s youngest player joined Babe Ruth, Williams, Dalton Jones, and Tony Conigliaro as the only Red Sox in the last 100 years with four or more hits in a single game by age 20. Linked to Red Sox greats from the last 100 years, Devers has become a favorite of memorabilia collectors. The 2015 Elite Extra Edition “Future Threads” Silhouette Signatures is a rare memorabilia card issued by Panini. The unique “Future Threads” card is serial numbered to just 125 and has a jersey swatch layered underneath the player image. The lower portion of the card displays Devers’ signature. The card value has doubled in the past month, currently selling for $100.
If the Red Sox continue winning and advance to the postseason with Devers still slugging his way through the league, his cards will heat up the postseason and offseason.
Nothing stimulates the hobby faster than two rookies from storied franchises slugging home runs at a record pace. Aaron Judge and Cody Bellinger have arrived as baseball’s top sluggers and hobby treasures. Both have a chance to join Fred Lynn (1975) and Ichiro Suzuki (2001) as the only players to be named MVP and Rookie of the Year in the same season.
On pace to become the first Yankee to win the Triple Crown since Mickey Mantle in 1956, Judge led the American League in homers (27), RBI (62), and hitting (.327) at the midpoint of the season. The 25-year-old behemoth outfielder has given Yankees fans hope for the future and collectors excitement for the present. The first Judge cards of consequence were released shortly after the Yankees selected him in the first round of the 2013 MLB Draft. Because these cards were issued before Judge was on a major league roster, they are considered prospect cards or inserts. In today’s hobby, a star’s earliest cards outdo the rookie cards in significance and value.
The most sought-after card of the summer is the Judge 2013 Bowman Draft Pick, selling for $17 with the more limited chrome version selling for $50 and the even more limited Chrome Refractor version approaching $200. The simple posed design against a white background is easily preserved and holds its value exceptionally well. From the card back we learn that Judge was a First Team All-Western Athletic Conference selection all three seasons at Fresno State. Not surprisingly, Judge was also the College Home Run Derby Champion in 2012 and played wide out on the prep football team.
Judge’s official rookie cards are found in 2017 packs. His 2017 Topps card is the first to carry the official MLB “RC” logo. Although the Topps set does not feature the glitz and glitter of the latest printing technologies, rookie cards from the Topps flagship are must haves for rookie card collectors. The Judge rookie is selling for $10 with limited Gold Parallel versions selling for $70.
Judge will likely destroy the Yankees record for home runs by a rookie (29) established by Joe DiMaggio in 1936. As Judge’s name becomes synonymous with Yankees legends, interest in his autographed cards will increase. His 2013 Bowman Chrome Certified Autograph cards have sold for $850 in recent weeks with Refractor versions selling for $1,400. His 2015 Bowman Inception can be had for a more affordable $125.
Twenty-one-year-old Cody Bellinger was called to the majors in late April due to a rash of injuries to the Dodgers outfield. What appeared to be a short-term promotion became one of the best starts to a career in baseball history. Bellinger’s league-leading 24 homers in 62 games are the most by an NL rookie in the first half of the season since 1933.
On Opening Day, most Bellinger baseball cards could be had for mere pocket change, today they are among the most coveted in the hobby. Bellinger’s cards date back to 2013 when the Dodgers drafted him in the fourth round of the MLB Draft. One of the earliest Bellinger cards is the 2013 Panini Elite , which sells for nearly $100 with autographed versions valued at $3
Because Bellinger was not considered a top prospect at the time, his major prospect and insert cards were slow to roll out. Topps got into the act with 2015 Bowman Chrome Autographed cards. One of the more sought-after Bellinger cards to date, the Chrome Autograph is selling for $400, while rare Blue Refractor versions — limited to a print run of 50 — sell for $1,200. His 2016 Bowman Chrome Scout’s Prospect card is popular among first card/rookie collectors, selling for a much more affordable $10.
Bellinger has already hit two home runs in a single game six times, breaking Mike Piazza’s Dodgers rookie record for most multi-homer games in a season. As the records mount, expect interest in Bellinger cards to increase. His first official rookie card has yet to be released, but expect a wide-range of Bellinger RCs to be issued in the coming weeks.