If you pulled his autographed card from a pack five years ago, you probably didn’t scream in excitement. He was still a young prospect but there were other names that were getting far more attention. Even if you ran across one of them while killing time during the All-Star break, you probably would have sold it…if only someone would ask.
Aristides? You mean the Greek statesman? Or the horse that won the first Kentucky Derby in 1875? Either way, it’s a heck of a name to live up to and for the first several years of his baseball career, Aristides Aquino was not on a path to make anyone forget either one. He spent all or part of six seasons in Rookie ball or Class A. After signing as an international free agent in 2011, he was nothing more than a long-developing power prospect.
While Cincinnati Reds fans and hard-core prospect watchers knew his name, Aristides Aquino baseball cards were hardly a big topic of discussion at local shows or online. A rookie card? It didn’t exist. Aquino’s lone appearance in the big leagues was a single at-bat in 2018.
He struck out.
Since the beginning of August, though, he’s been sizzling. On the field…and in the card market. “The Punisher” has been doing just that to pitched baseballs since being called up by Reds following the Yasiel Puig trade. He’s the first rookie since 1900 with 11 homers in his first 17 games, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. His historic start has had collectors and investors battling to see who can find what few cards have been issued for the 25-year-old native of the Dominican Republic.
ON A ROLL!
— ESPN (@espn) August 18, 2019
The list of Aquino baseball cards really starts with the 2014 Bowman Chrome autograph. In fact, it’s his only card from that season. There are more than 20 different parallels to the base autograph so they’re not “rare” but BoChro prospect autos remain the gold standard for prospectors and there have been several low serial-numbered versions that have sold for $1,000 and up since Aquino belted his first few homers including at least two BGS 9.5 Red Refractors numbered to 5 and several Gold versions numbered to 50.
Obviously, his splashy arrival has brought numerous ’14 Bowman Chrome Aquino autographs out of boxes and onto eBay. There are several dozen up for sale and auction now. Unlike some players, Aquino appears to have taken his time in signing as most of the autographs are clean and legible.
There are no unsigned version of his card in the Bowman Chrome set, which is a bit unusual but not unheard of.
If you’re OK with minor league sets, Aquino did appear in the 2014 Billings Mustangs set.
Aquino also has cards in Panini’s 2015 Elite Extra Edition and Contenders sets, including some autographs (sadly, his auto deteriorated into a quick scribble) but he didn’t appear on a Topps-branded card until he started hitting home runs.
Topps has produced Aquino cards under its NOW platform, the first of which came after an incredible three home run game against the Cubs on August 10 that really put him on the baseball map. Over 1,500 were ordered by collectors. It’s not being labeled a rookie card, though. Because his debut didn’t happen until well into the second half of the season, Topps is saving the “RC” moniker for its 2020 issues. However, if you want a low-cost card from what is unquestionably Aquino’s first impact year, NOW is definitely the way to go.