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.
Drawing comparisons to Red Sox greats past and present, Andrew Benintendi enters the 2017 season as baseball’s top prospect and a hobby treasure. The 22-year-old outfielder arrived in the majors just a year after being taken with the No. 7 overall pick in the 2015 MLB Draft. He instantly impressed with spectacular all-around play and remarkable poise during the Red
Sox run to the AL East Division Title.
After dominating every level of the minor leagues and forcing his way onto the Red Sox everyday lineup, Benintendi became an instant hit with baseball card collectors. His first big-time baseball card, the 2015 Bowman Chrome card issued just months after the draft, sells for $6. Rare purple refractor versions, limited to a production run of 250, sell for $80 and are on the rise.
Benintendi’s timely hitting and outstanding defense quickly caught the attention of collectors throughout the country. Certified autographed versions of the Bowman Chrome purple refractor card gained momentum over the winter and are currently selling for $405. Because the full-bled, high, gloss photos are susceptible to dings and damaged corners, PSA-10 versions (the highest possible grade) are extremely rare and have sold for $1,400. The paper, smudge-free, non-chrome versions — ideal for in-person autographs — are readily available for $3.
Benintendi looked like a major leaguer from day one, batting .295 with a .835 OPS in limited play cut short by a knee injury. With his rookie status still intact after a 34-game introduction to the majors last season, Benintendi looks to become the first Red Sox Rookie of the Year since Dustin Pedroia in 2007. Benintendi’s true rookie card is from 2017 Topps Series 1,which is selling for $3. Because the 2015 Bowman Chrome card is part of a Prospects subset, it is not considered a rookie card.
Small in stature like Pedroia and Mookie Betts, Benintendi fits perfectly on the Red Sox undersized, overpowering lineup. The Red Sox are hopeful Benintendi takes a similar career path as Betts by adding strength and home runs to his repertoire in year two. Collectors crave game-used memorabilia cards of baseball’s top sluggers. Playing in Boston heightens Benintendi’s popularity. His 2016 Elite Extra Gold Triple Jersey card is available for $15 for the time being.
Benintendi reminds veteran Red Sox fans of Fred Lynn circa 1975. He has the same smooth, graceful lefthanded swing as Lynn, the first player to take AL Rookie of the Year and MVP honors in the same season. Like Lynn, Benintendi has the ability to wrap the ball around Pesky’s Pole and drive the ball off and over the leftfield wall. The Red Sox would be thrilled if Benintendi approaches Lynn’s rookie season production when the 23-year-old centerfielder hit .331 with 21 homers, 105 RBI and slugged .566. Lynn’s rookie card is a highlight of the 1975 Topps set. The not-so-pleasant on the eyes orange and yellow framed card is a nice addition to a
ny Red Sox collection for under $10.
Benintendi put himself on the baseball map by hitting .564 with 12 homers and 57 RBI in his senior year at Madeira High School (Ohio). After being named the ABCA/Rawlings National High School Player of the Year, Benintendi was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in the 31st round of the 2013 MLB Draft, but opted to refine his baseball skills at the University of Arkansas. As sophomore with the Razorbacks, Benintendi led the Southeast Conference in batting (.380), home runs (19), and slugging (.715) en route to being named the Baseball America College Player of the Year and receivin
g the Golden Spikes Award as college baseball’s most valuable player.
Highlights from Benintendi’s college career are captured in the 2015 Panini Contenders set. Action shots of Benintendi in his Razorbacks uniform are available for under $4 with game-used jersey cards selling for $15 and are on the rise. Certified autographed Panini Contenders cards of Benintendi in his college uniform is selling for $60, while limited versions serial numbered to 23 sell for $190 on eBay.