It happens every summer — a much heralded young prospect is called up and flirts with greatness sending the collecting world into a tizzy. The subject of this latest summer romance is Boston Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers. When he was called up Triple-A Pawtucket on July 23, the 20-year-old Dominican was the youngest player in the major leagues. Just two days later he got his first hit — a home run — and has been on fire ever since.
Through his first 18 games he hit .348 with six home runs — including one off Aroldis Chapman — and is already being intentionally walked. This has inspired some on sports card discussion forums to compare him to Miguel Cabrera during his debut with the Marlins in 2003.
The first Rafael Devers cards were issued in 2014 Bowman Draft Top Prospects — one year after being signed by the Red Sox at the age of 17. There’s a paper version that’s very inexpensive along with a Chrome version.
Collectors and prospectors, though, prefer autographs. The following year’s 2015 Bowman Chrome Prospects issues have been hot on eBay since he was called up. Leading the pack was an Orange refractor auto (#’d to 25) that sold for $3499.99. Blue (#’d to 150) refractor autographs have been selling for over $1200, while Gold (#’d to 50) refractor autographs listed for over $2000 have sold for best offer prices.
For collectors and fans who would like to own a Rafael Devers autograph, but for a more reasonable price, there is the non-refractor issue from 2015 Bowman Chrome Prospects. This card had been selling for around $80 in early August, but less than two weeks later had jumped into the $150 range. Given Devers’ current media attention, prospectors who were hoarding Devers cards have been steadily unloading on eBay and in private sales making examples of the card – along with numbered refractor variations – plentiful both at auction and through buy it now listings.
He also has signed cards in the 2015 Bowman’s Best issue, including the usual rainbow of parallel cards that increase in price based on how many were produced.
For those looking for alternatives to the Bowman lineup, Devers was busying signing in 2015 for both Panini and Leaf. These autograph issues are more affordable with base variations available for $50 and less.
While most of the prospectors who hoarded Rafael Devers cards during his minor league career have cashed — or are in the process of cashing out — there is one variable left in the Devers equation. The Boston Red Sox currently lead the American League East. IF the Red Sox make the postseason and IF Devers contributes to even one memorable postseason moment the market will explode again. And — at the risk of getting caught up in this summer crush ourselves –if that moment occurs in the World Series then this seasonal fling could be a lifelong love affair.
Devers’ official Topps rookie cards aren’t expected to arrive until 2018 Topps Series 1 — which is currently slated for a January 31 release date.
Here is a look at some of the current most watched Rafael Devers cards currently at auction.