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.
Xander Bogaerts entered the 2016 season as an emerging star. Three months into the season, he’s become baseball’s finest shortstop, arguably the game’s top hitter, and a viable American League MVP candidate. Being compared to big-time stars such as Mike Trout, Manny Machado, and Bryce Harper, Bogaerts has become a top star in the collectibles world as well.
The diversity of Bogaerts’ skills have been on full display since the start of the season. Spraying the ball to all fields, while also finding the gaps, Bogaerts has exploited defensive shifts by hitting to the open areas. The result has been a higher batting average and increased production — more hits with runners on base while anchoring a potent Red Sox offense from the third spot in the lineup. Wade Boggs’ Red Sox single-season hit record (240) is well within his sights.
Taking baseball and the hobby by surprise, Bogaerts game-used memorabilia and certified autographed cards are few and far between for the time being. His limited 2015 Topps Gypsy Queen Red Framed Jersey card is a hot item selling for $12, while his popular 2015 Topps Career Highlights Game Used Jersey card sells for as much as $10. A 26-game hitting streak earlier in the season put Bogaerts in the national spotlight, increasing the the interest and value of his memorabilia cards.
Bogaerts has led the league in hits and batting for most of the season, while also placing among the league best in runs, RBI, doubles, and OPS. Most defensive metrics rank him among baseball’s best fielding shortstops. He also excels on the basepaths, stealing bases at opportune times while taking extra bases with regularity.
With an All-Star appearance in the offing, Bogaerts will be a focal point of many mid- and late-season baseball card releases. Expect to see a wide assortment of new Bogaerts game used and autographed cards in the coming months. For now, his 2012 Rize Prodigy Gold Autographed insert limited to a pr
oduction run of 100 is selling for $40
Just 23 years old, Bogaerts has become the best all-around shortstop to wear a Red Sox uniform since Nomar Garciaparra’s prime years of 1998-2000. Like Garciaparra rookie cards in the late ‘90s, Bogaerts’ earliest cards have become “must haves” for Red Sox collectors. His 2012 Bowman Chrome Rookie — a mere common card less than a year ago — is selling for $5. Limited autographed Bowman Chrome rookies are selling for $124, with “Blue Refractor” autographed versions limited to a production run of 50 approaching $1,000.
Impressed by his athletic ability and live bat, the Red Sox signed Bogaerts at the age of 17 out of his native Aruba for $410,000. As a teenager, Bogaerts represented the Netherlands in the 2013 World Baseball Classic, opening eyes with his play on the field and his maturity off the field. Bumped to third base to accommodate slick-fielding fellow countryman Andrelton Simmons, Bogaerts looked like a seasoned veteran, hitting .263 with a .364 on base percentage.
Off the field he impressed with advanced people skills and speaking fluently to reporters in four different languages (English, Spanish, Dutch and Papiamento). One of his rarest baseball cards is the 2013 Topps Tribute World Baseball Classic Game Worn Jersey, which is limited to a production run of 67 and is becoming increasingly popular, selling for $80. The Bogaerts base card from the WBC set can be had for $3.
With his baseball IQ on par with his on-the-field proficiency, Bogaerts looks to be a pillar in the Red Sox lineup for many years to come. An increasing international following will heighten the demand and value of his cards, so buy early and often. With David Ortiz in the twilight of his career, Bogaerts is quickly becoming the face of the Red Sox.
There’s a reason why the Red Sox — fresh off their third World Series Championship in 10 years — allowed Jacoby Ellsbury to flee to New York following the the 2013 season with little resistance..
The reason was Jackie Bradley Jr. The same reason why Cuban import Rusney Castillo, who signed a $72.5 million contract in 2014, is trying to find his groove with the AAA Pawtucket Red Sox.
There is a reason why former Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington and newly appointed baseball chief Dave Dombrowski rebuked the many trade offers for the multi-talented Bradley over the past three years despite Bradley’s anemic .198 batting average and .531 OPS in his 2014 major league debut season. That reason is coming to fruition on a nightly basis.
The previously all-field, no-hit centerfielder has become one of baseball’s most dangerous offensive threats. Bradley is working on a 15-game hitting streak, the longest in the majors this season. During that time, he is hitting a robust .382 with four doubles, three triples, four homers and 17 RBI with a sizzling 1.215 OPS. Bradley’s .903 OPS for the season is 13th in the AL, just behind proven offensive forces Mike Trout (.964) and Josh Donaldson (.931).
Although the sample size is small, Bradley has been one of baseball’s toughest outs this season. Facing defenses stacked to the right side, Bradley has found the gaps with a powerful opposite-field swing. He has also been able to pull the ball with authority when facing pitches on the inner half of the plate.
With just parts of three major league seasons under his belt, Bradley already has a wide-array of baseball cards ranging no-glitz minor league cards to chrome and high-premium rookies. His earliest cards date back to his college days.
As the driving force behind the University of South Carolina’s first national championship in 2010, Bradley established himself as a highly-skilled offensive and defensive player worthy of first-round consideration in the MLB amateur draft. Bradley hit .368, with a mind-blowing 1.060 OPS, 60 RBI, 56 runs, 13 homers and seven steals in 67 games during the regular season. Ten hits during the World Series earned the Richmond, VA native the College World Series Most Outstanding Player Award. Bradley’s 2010 Topps “Collegiate Team” Triple Jersey is a great buy for $5.
Later that summer, Bradley threw out the first pitch at a Kansas City Royals game as Major League Baseball honored the South Carolina Gamecocks championship team. The recognition continued as Bradley was named to the Team USA Collegiate National Team.
The 2010 Bowman Platinum Rookie, Bradley’s first baseball card of note, captures the five-tool outfielder in his left-handed stance against a silhouetted baseball field background. This card is a great buy for $3 with the “Gold” parallel version selling for $8. High-gloss Bowman Platinum rookie cards gain significant value as rising stars develop. Trout, Bryce Harper, Mike Stanton, Buster Posey and Jason Heyward Platinum rookies are some of the hobby’s most sought-after cards.
Bradley’s first memorabilia card can also be found in the Platinum Series. His USA Autograph/Jersey card with a production run of 740 sell for $45 and are on the rise. The more scarce version, limited to a production run of 50, is approaching $100 in value. Be sure to keep the Platinum cards in protective shields, as fingerprints will appear on the silver or gold foil and edges chip with the slightest contact.
A subpar junior season, which ended with a wrist injury, turned into good fortune for the Red Sox. Watching a player with off-the-chart tools and advanced skills slip through the first round, the Red Sox pounced on Bradley with the 40th overall pick. He was actually their fourth pick of the day, behind highly-touted pitcher Matt Barnes, catcher Blake Swihart and pitcher Henry Owens. Bradley quickly proved his worth by reaching AA-ball in his first full season and finishing second in the system in batting average and first in on-base percentage.
Bradley’s 2012 Bowman Rookie — his first card in a Red Sox uniform — is a great buy for $1, while the chrome version is selling for $2.00. Still reasonably priced, now is the time to buy these cards. Chrome Refractor Autograph versions are selling for as much as $90.
The long overdue Topps Baseball makeover has finally happened. The 2016 base version features an almost-full-bleed photo — a distinct and much-needed difference from the white borders that became a pillar in recent Topps releases. The new look is similar to the popular Topps Stadium Club and Fleer Ultra sets of the early to mid 1990s. A faint smokey effect on opposite corners of the base cards seems to enhance the photo and adds to the modern design. Additionally, a diagonal team logo is placed in the corner alongside a small text box at the bottom.
Although change does not come easy for extreme traditionalists — a large segment of the baseball card collecting hobby — Topps deemed the change necessary moving forward. In a press announcement, Topps senior art director John Doldan stated, “We have had a white border for so many years and it was sort of a staple of the Topps design. I think we are trying to move forward and make the cards a little more modern and current. I think gradually we have been going in that direction and break from the past a little bit.”
The 2016 Topps Series One base 350-card base set feature rookies, veterans, future stars, World Series highlights, league leaders and team cards. Mike Trout was voted by fans and collectors to be card #1. One of the more colorful cards captures the infamous Jose Bautista playoff bat flip.
The series also pays homage to late Topps patriarch Sy Berger and the history of Wrigley Field with special subsets. The 65-card “Berger’s Best” subset features an iconic card reproduced from each year since 1952. The “100 Years of Wrigley Field” features 25 of the most memorable Chicago Cubs moments.
The rookie checklist features:
- Hector Olivera, Atlanta Braves
- Henry Owens, Boston Red Sox
- Kyle Schwarber, Chicago Cubs
- Corey Seager, Los Angels Dodgers
- Miguel Sano, Minnesota Twins
- Michael Conforto, New York Mets
- Greg Bird, New York Yankees
- Luis Servino, New Yankees
- Aaron Nola, Philadelphia
- Stephen Piscotty, St. Louis Cardinals
- Trea Turner, Washington Nationals
The new look combined with unique subsets and a decent rookie checklist makes 2016 Topps a winner. Looking forward to Series 2 in June.