As the school year begins to fade away and sunlit nights bring fans to minor league ballparks, 2017 Topps Pro Debut baseball hits store shelves, putting faces to the names on scorecards coast-to-coast.
Releasing Wednesday, Pro Debut will showcase players who were drafted in 2016 and also minor-league stars. The design will mirror Topps’ flagship Series 1 and 2 major-league cards. It’s a popular product among collectors who enjoy taking the cards to minor-league games to have up-and-coming players autograph them.
A full 2017 Topps Pro Debut checklist is below.
This year’s set includes Tim Tebow’s first official Minor League Baseball card. Tebow isn’t part of the base set checklist but does have a card listed under “Image Variations”. After being signed by the Mets last September, he’s currently a member of the Columbia Fireflies, a low Class A level club. At 29, he’s a long shot to reach the majors but fans have turned out in big numbers to watch him at home and on the road. A few of the short-printed cards are starting to appear on eBay.
2017 Topps Pro Debut Basics and Base Set
Pro Debut will have 24 packs per hobby box and eight cards to a pack. Expect the cost of a hobby box to be in the $55 to $65 range, depending on the retailer. There will be a 200-card base set, and there will be parallels in green, orange (numbered to 25) and black (1/1). Topps is also sprinkling in some card variations that swap out the image on the front.
A new addition is called Promo Night Uniform relics, which is an extension of the Pro Debut insert that bears the same name. Topps could have some real fun with this one; in August, Sports Illustrated ranked the top minor-league promotions. It is unclear what promotions Topps will use, but here is a sampling of uniforms from SI’s rankings: Asparagus Night (Stockton Ports, and the uniforms were awesome), Full House Night (Brooklyn Cyclones), Three Amigos Night (Fresno Grizzlies), Better Call Saul Night (Albuquerque Isotopes), ’90s Nickelodeon Night (those Grizzlies again, wearing Grizz Burgers jerseys while the opposing Reno Aces wore Mondo Burgers jerseys), KISS Night (El Paso Chihuahuas) and Ghostbusters Night (Birmingham Barons).
The relic subsets will have gold parallels and 1/1 black parallels.
The most common autograph cards will mirror the design of the base cards. There also will be parallels in green, orange (numbered to 25) and black (1/1). Splash of the Future debuts with low-numbered cards of what Topps calls “top tier” minor-league prospects. These will have black parallel cards numbered 1/1. Pro Production autographs will be a case hit and will feature the subject’s most impressive statistical achievement.
In addition to the Promo Uniform Night inserts, Topps will unveil two new subsets. Ben’s Biz relies on the expertise of MiLB.com writer Benjamin Hill in chronicling the top events in minor-league baseball during 2016. Another debut insert, In the Wings, features players who are on the cusp of making an impact at the major-league level.
The inserts will have parallels in gold, orange (numbered to 25) and black (1/1), with several autographed versions.
Make Your Pro Debut Contest Returns
Finally, Topps will insert cards of the 2017 “Make Your Pro Debut” winner. Contest cards were inserted in packs of the 2016 Topps Heritage Minor League Baseball set, and the contest closes on Jan. 4, 2017. The winner will be chosen on Feb. 19, and that person will be a guest for a 2017 El Paso Chihuahuas game and receive a Topps Pro Debut card commemorating the experience.
Topps Pro Debut offers collectors a glimpse into the future, and it’s a fun way to discover some of the top young stars, some of whom will reach the majors someday.
You can see Pro Debut singles, sets and boxes on eBay here.