Expectations were as high as the Space Needle for Seattle Mariners rookie Julio Rodriguez when it was announced that he made the 2022 Opening Day roster. The team and collectors alike were beginning to worry about his slow start to the season. But, a torrid stretch propelled Rodriguez into becoming the only rookie on the 2022 All-Star Game roster, not to mention a second-place finish in the Home Run Derby. Julio Rodriguez baseball cards? They’re hot, too.
Rodriguez, a 2017 international free agent from the Dominican Republic, has a rare power and speed combo that is quickly making him one of the more collectable athletes in the game today. He even became the fastest player ever to reach 15 career home runs and 20 stolen bases.
Despite not having a huge variety of them yet, his earliest issues have been among the top selling single cards on eBay. In the past 12 months, over $6 million worth of Rodriguez cards have sold on eBay alone—more than 87,000 cards in all.
Two of the biggest sales took place in May when one of the five 2019 Bowman Chrome Red Shimmer Refractors graded BGS 9.5 sold for $23,501 and one of the ten Orange Shimmers, also a 9.5, netted $22,200.
True Rodriguez rookie cards were late in arriving during 2022 but here are five of the best early releases to kickstart your collection. For the purpose of this list, we’re excluding parallels, but of course, the rarer the better.
Note: For the purposes of this list, I am excluding all parallels, but of course, the rarer the better. Sales figures as of 7/22/2022
#5 – 2019 Bowman Draft – Chrome (#BDC-60)
While not his 1st Bowman, this Bowman Draft chrome card is still a first year, and is the only card on this list to feature the Mariners teal uniform. While it will never reach the value of his 1st Bowman, it’s probably worthy of picking up at current prices if you believe in his long term future.
#4 – 2021 Bowman’s Best – Best of 2021 Auto (#B21-JR)
The Bowman’s Best brand, making its debut in 1994, has always featured a slickly designed chromium stock, and 2021’s entry is no different. The modern yet simple design featured on this subset is one of the more appealing sets of this release.
It earns a spot on the list despite being a pre-rookie card. His autograph in this set is bigger and pops more than his other autos later on in this list. Prices haven’t soared out of the yard–yet.
#3 – 2022 Topps Series 2 – 1987 Topps Auto (#87BA-JRO)
The hotly anticipated 2022 Topps Series 2 set was initially received with negativity as the checklist failed to mention any of the seasons blossoming rookie class, led by Bobby Witt Jr., Spencer Torkelson and Rodriguez. As it turns out, Topps threw a curveball and announced that all three of the aforementioned rookies were in the set, though Witt Jr. and Rodriguez were the only ones with autos.
The 1987 throwback design was an interesting choice to feature Rodriguez’ first true rookie auto, but it’s a beautiful design, and one Topps seems to keep coming back to for a reason.
This one is popular with eBay bidders.
#2 – 2022 Topps Series 2 – SP (#659)
Similar to the 2018 Series 2 Ronald Acuña Jr. bat down and the 2019 Series 2 Vladimir Guerrero Jr. no number short prints, Topps made the rookie cards of Rodriguez, Witt Jr. and Torkelson true chase cards. It’s a far cry from Series 1 where Wander Franco rookies were at least one per box.
The rarity of this Rodriguez card (1:50 packs in hobby, 1:16 in jumbo for all SP cards) and his fast start in Seattle have kept prices strong. There’s also an All-Star variation. It may not be the flashiest card, but it’s part of a Topps flagship set, making it an absolute must have for any Rodriguez collector. Expect to pay at least a few hundred dollars to get one.
#1 – 2019 Bowman – Chrome Prospect Autographs (#CPA-JRO)
While his 1st Bowman chrome base card is essentially #1a on this list, there’s no card that will surpass the 1st Bowman chrome auto of a top prospect. The fact that Rodriguez’ raw base autos often sell for low four-figure prices tells you that collectors believe he is the real deal. It may be a steep price to pay now, but if his star continues to rise, this card could become one of the more iconic in the hobby for years to come.
Below is a live list of the current ‘most watched’ eBay auctions for Julio Rodriguez cards. To see all of the Rodriguez cards currently listed, click here.