We have mentioned this once or twice before, but one advantage in producing sets about baseball prospects is that for the most part their autographs are far less expensive than their major league counterparts. Since most of these players do not have guaranteed contracts and many will never see major league action, these players are usually grateful for having extra money.
What this means to collectors is that autograph cards of these players are easier for the card ompany to gather and then distribute to collectors. It is easier to justify multiple autographs in a pack when your cost per signature is significantly cheaper. Such as what happens with Bowman Sterling baseball and the 2013 baseball release is no different. Anytime a collector sees an issue with three autographs per pack, they know there is a good long-term play for a full box as players develop differently but out of 18 autographs in a box there is a pretty good chance one or two of those players will turn out to be significant major leaguers.
Released in late December, I was a bit surprised to hear my local card store (Triple Cards, Plano TX) had sold only six boxes to this point. I will point out that he was not really disappointed at all. His only issue, he said, was that his customers thought Sterling football release was "more colorful" than its baseball brother.
The base cards have a player photo set against a black background with his name and position at the bottom. Sterling is back to a vertical design after going horizontal in 2012.
The backs feature personal information but no biographical information. I'm always dumbfounded in a prospect based issue why birth dates are not included. The backs also have an informational blurb as well as seasonal and career statistics.
My local card store is at $50 per pack and $285 for a box with six packs which contain four cards per pack. Meanwhile leading on-line retailers are in the $225-240 range.
Here’s what we pulled from our box:
Prospects: Allen Hanson
The Duel: Matt Barnes/Tyler Austin
Autographs: Mark Appel, Tyler Austin, Trey Ball, Jon Denney, Courtney Hawkins, Billy McKinney. Oscar Mercado, Michael O'Neill, Dillon Overton, Joe Pederson, Eduardo Rodriguez, Tyler Skaggs, Dominic Smith, Devin Williams, Taijuan Walker, Trevor Williams
Green Parallel (#d to 125): Byron Buxton, Wil Myers
We scored big with autographs of Buxton, Appel, Walker and a couple of other big time prospects here. It’s hard to find any fault with that kind of value, especially if you’re a baseball prospector who loves tracking guys through the big league systems.
So far over 6,000 listings are currently listed on eBay and you may be able to score a few prospect autos on the cheap.
To me, Bowman Sterling 2013 is a nice play both on the short-term and on the long-term.
Rich Klein can be reached at [email protected]