Most people in the hobby are fully aware of Topps having the exclusive MLB and MILB properties licensing arrangement through 2020. However, that doesn’t mean other companies who have separate deals with the players association can’t produce cards. They just can’t use logos and trademarks of the various teams and leagues. Panini has been actively producing baseball-oriented sets for quite awhile. One of their latest is 2014 Panini Prizm Perennial Draft Picks.
For minor leaguers, some of whom are struggling on a relatively low salary, any opportunity to put extra money in their pockets is welcome. I’m always reminded of the story of a former colleague who went to spring training quite a few years ago and saw Michael Tucker, who was then one of the leading prospects in baseball leaving the team’s complex with some of his teammates. Someone asked Tucker if he wanted to go with them to Boston Market and he responded “No, that’s too expensive for me.” Yes, the poor pay of some minor leaguers, while well-known, is to some extent a secret among baseball fans. Living in the DFW area, I know players on the Frisco Roughriders don’t receive very many promotional opportunities because of the proximity to the Rangers.
So, with all that background and a graphic design team in-house, why not take advantage and get minor leaguers involved in your releases and also have them sign cards and build up relationships before these players become major leaguers? Since they do have an MLBPA contract, the earlier you introduce players to signing cards for you, the better the long-term relationship is.
Not all of the Panini baseball products have been winners, of course, but with prospects, I’m not sure how important those logos really are and the cards do provide a rare chance to get a card of a player who most of the world doesn’t know much about yet.
There are three on-card autographs in every box along with three numbered Prizm parallels and two additional Prizms.
The checklist includes Cuban star Rusney Castillo, Carlos Rodon, Brandon Finnegan, Luis Severino, Dalton Pompey, Jorge Solar, A.J. Reed and others.
Among the chase cards are Press Proof Autographs, Midnight Ink Die Cut Autographs which feature prospects Alex Jackson, Trea Turner, Kyle Schwarber and Carlos Rodon. The Honored Selections Autographs insert looks back at some former top picks who became big league stars including Ken Griffey Jr., Chipper Jones, Will Clark, Gary Sheffield and every current baseball card pack’s favorite son, Kris Bryant.
The current on-line price is between $50-60 per box.
Base Cards: 38 of 100 meaning even with perfect collation you need at least three hobby boxes to finish a set
Base Draft Picks: 14 of 50 so you would need four boxes to finish this set
Purple Parallel (#d to 149): Jake Peter
Minors Gold: Miguel Almonte
Autographs: Nick Burdi, Gareth Morgan, Kyle Schwarber
Schwarber is a nice prospect who was drafted in the first round by the Chicago Cubs in 2014 and hit over .300 in all three different minor league levels he played in during 2014. That made for a nice hit but the other cards always offer us this possibility of waiting a few years to see what occurs down the road to see who makes an impact in the majors.
Any product without logos is up against the eight ball, even with a higher-end feel but at its current price point, one could do well if a few of these guys make the majors and demand for their earliest cards grows.
You can see what’s available on eBay here.