Posted by: portersprospectreport | July 12, 2008

Top 10 Upcoming MLB Debuts

Evan Longoria…Jay Bruce…Johnny Cueto…Chris Davis…Clayton Kershaw….The who’s who of baseball’s top young prospects made significant splashes in the baseball card market this season after stellar debuts.  Now, as the All-Star break approaches, a fresh batch of budding stars look to make their collective presences known at the Major League level.

Below I have listed 10 prospects that I think will make an impact for their big league clubs this summer.  Ranked from least to most significant, they are as follows…

 

10.) Jamie D’Antona—Arizona Diamondbacks 3B/1B

  • The D’Backs have been searching for another bat in their lineup.  In the meanwhile, Jamie D’Antona has done nothing but flirt with .400 for much of this season at AAA Tuscon.  It seems like a perfectly reasonable assumption that D’Antona would get an opportunity but Arizona seems to be in no rush to call him up as Mark Reynolds and Conor Jackson have the corner infield positions locked down.  In the long run, D’Antona is better suited for the American League where he can DH, but I think Arizona will finally give him a look.  His best RC’s can be found in the 2003 Bowman Chrome Draft and he has autographed XRC’s in the ’03 UD Prospect Premieres sets.  Currently, his chrome RC’s sell for 50 cents to $1 each and his Prospect Premieres autos, while difficult to find, sell for $5 to 7.50 each.  D’Antona, at age 26, is not going to be a superstar, but he has enough potential in his bat to be a solid value buy at his current prices.

 

9.) Michael Bowden—Boston Red Sox RHP

  • Bowden has pitched very well at AA Portland this season going 8-4 with a 2.36 ERA.  He has held hitters to a miniscule .188 BA and has struck out 93 in 99 innings.  With the recent Major League promotions of Clay Buchholz and Justin Masterson, Bowden has become the top pitcher in the Red Sox system.  However, the recent decision to shift Masterson to the bullpen, in my mind, has impeded Bowden’s chances to make an impact with the Red Sox this season.  Additionally, the desire for Boston to add another impact bat to their lineup makes Bowden a high value trading chip.  Bowden’s 1st year cards are beginning to be noticed by collectors right now as his 2005 Bowman Chrome Draft cards sell regualrly for $3-4.50 each.  His ’05 Bowman Sterling Jersey Auto RC’s are available for $25-30 each. Bowden, if he debuts with Boston, will encounter a precipitous growth in value, akin to Jed Lowrie and Justin Masterson’s card this season.  If he is traded, his values will not enjoy the same ascention but his chances of sticking in a big league rotation will be better.  All told, Bowden profiles as a mid-rotation, inning eating SP whose card values will likely diminish over time, especially if he is not wearing a Red Sox uniform.  Sell his cards sooner rather than later.

8.) John Mayberry Jr.—Texas Rangers OF

  • 6 feet 6 inches, 230 lb., plus plus raw power and plus speed and arm strength, are all characteristics of John Mayberry Jr.  Despite his skill set, several people are skeptical of Mayberry’s abilities at the major league level, citing a long, strikeout prone swing and apexed physical development as deterrents to his future projectability.  This season Mayberry has improved his OBP and SLG while decreasing his strikeouts.  Mayberry has particularly excelled since being promoted to AAA, hitting .290 with 10 HR 42 RBI and 21 doubles in 67 games.  While younger prospects like Chris Davis and Max Ramirez have beaten Mayberry to the major leagues, I feel that Mayberry has the potential to be an All-Star rightfielder for the Rangers similar to a Jermaine Dye or Dave Winfield.  Mayberry has autographed RC’s in both 2005 Bowman Chrome Draft, Bowman Heritage, and Bowman Sterling.  While the chromes sell for $15-20 each, the Heritage and Sterlings can be attained for $5-10 each.  What a bargain for autographed RC’s of a potential 30 HR guy!  Additionally, his Topps Chrome Update cards can be had for less than $1 each.  Mayberry should make his major league debut in September after rosters are expanded.  Alongside the likes of Josh Hamilton and David Murphy, Texas will have a scary looking outfield in 2009.

 

7.) Travis Snider—Toronto Blue Jays OF

  • One of baseball’s brightest young slugging prospects, Snider has had an up and down 2008 season.  Snider, over two levels, is hitting .273 with 17 HR and 57 RBI, but he has struck out a whopping 114 times in just 89 games.  While much of this can be attributed to Snider’s youth at the AA level, it has furrowed some eyebrows in the collecting industry and remains a concern about Snider’s preparedness to make the jump to Toronto later this season.  I think that he will get a look in September when the Blue Jays are firmly entrenched in the AL East cellar.  Snider has immense power potential and he will poke a couple of moonshots into the upper levels of Rogers Centre.  Snider’s 2006 Bowman Chrome Draft cards sell for between $4-5 each and his non-chrome draft cards can be found for less than $1 each.  Snider has autographed cards in the 2006 Tristar minor league prospects set that sell for $6-8 each.  While I am not a big fan of minor league issue cards, these prices are sound values as Snider does not have many autographed cards in circulation as of yet.  I think that Snider is not ready for Toronto and a trip to Arizona or Hawaii for some extended work in the offseason will do wonders for his development. 

 

6.) Mat Gamel—Milwaukee Brewers

  • Boy, what a season this guy has had!  Gamel jumped onto the radars of prospectors last fall when he tore up the Hawaiian Winter League with a .333 BA 8 HR 25 RBI in just 33 games.  He upped the ante at AA Hunstville hitting .372 with 15 HR 76 RBI and 224 Total Bases.  Gamel’s emergence made #1 prospect Matt LaPorta expendible and has now vaulted Gamel to the top of Milwaukee’s list of prospects.  While his glove has yet to catch up to his bat, Gamel will undoubtedly get a look by the Brewers in September.  With Corey Hart’s impending free agency and Prince Fielder’s uncertain future with the team, it seems that there are several places that Gamel could find himself in the not too distant future.  Currently, Gamel’s 2006 Bowman Chrome Prospects cards sell for $3.50-5.00 each and his Bowman Sterling base cards sell for $12-15 each.  While these prices have already climbed significantly since the start of this season, I think there is still room for significant growth.  As long as the Brew Crew stays in postseason contention, Gamel’s high impact bat will be showcased in September.  If he can continue his hot hitting, it is not unreasonable to expect his chrome cards to hit the $10 range in September. As for the 2009 season, Gamel’s future resides in Milwaukee with this offseason and a trip to the Arizona Fall League dictating where, on the diamond, Gamel will play.

 

5.) Matt Wieters

  • Baltimore’s crown jewel has had a monster season at High A and AA, combining to hit .345 with 17 HR and 44 RBI.  Additionally, his plate discipline, 51 BB to only 53 K’s, shows that Wieters is a polished hitter who could receive a look by Baltimore this September .  However, with the Orioles financially committed to Ramon Hernandez at least through 2009, Wieters may have to wait a season before being the regular backstop.  Regardless, Wieters is an all-star in waiting, and the prices of his 2007 1st year cards have reflected the same sentiment.  Wieters has autographs in the 2007 Donruss Elite Extra set that are selling for $75-85.  He also has another auto within that set featuring a patch from his Georgia Tech alma mater that sells for $45-50 each.  Wow, that is a lot of money to pay for a player that has accumulated a mere 38 AB’s at the AA level.  I think a good value for Wieters cards can be found in some of his 2005 UD Team USA autographs that sell for $22-25 each.  Another sweet card in that set is the dual auto of Wieters and new Indian Matt LaPorta which has been selling for about $40 each.  Wieters will almost certainly be a superstar, but at the current prices, I think the risk/reward ratio is not as appealing as it could be with other prospects.

 

4.) Andrew McCutchen

  • This guy has been on collectors’ radars for the past couple of seasons, but after much anticipation, I think his time has come to debut with the Pirates.  McCutchen is intriguing to me, as he seems to excel when presented with greater challenges.  Looking back at his last few seasons, he has actually hit much better after his promotion than he did at the previous level.  Case in point, last season at AA Altoona, McCutchen hit a mediocre .258 with a .383 SLG.  After being promoted to AAA Indianapolis, McCutchen hit .313 with a .418 SLG.  I don’t think it is unreasonable to believe that he can replicate this again in his jump from AAA to Pittsburgh.  Currently, McCutchen has done very well this season earning a spot on the US team for the Futures Game hitting .289 with 8 HR 33 RBI and 24 SB.  McCutchen’s best 2005 cards are his autographed jersey cards in Bowman Sterling, which sell for $25-30 each, his Bowman Heritage autos that sell for $12-15 each and his Topps Chrome Update autos that sell for $27-30 each.  Additionally, his Bowman Chrome Draft RC’s can be bought for $3-4.50 a piece.  McCutchen is the future leadoff hitter for the Bucs, and his Gold Glove defense, game changing speed and surprising pop could usher McCutchen into All-Star games in the future.

 

3.) Colby Rasmus

  • This has not been the season that the Cardinals envisioned for Rasmus as he got off to a glacier-like start hitting .215 through May.  June was a much better month for Rasmus as he stung PCL pitching to the tune of a .333 BA with 4 HR and 15 RBI.  Just as it appeared that Rasmus was primed for a call-up, a groin injury landed him on the 7-day DL.  He is slated to return after the All-Star break, and hopefully, he can regain his sweet left-handed stroke.  When healthy, Rasmus is a mega-talented 5 tool superstar who can provide immediate offensive production and Jim Edmonds-like CF defense for the Cardinals.  Rasmus has 1st year cards in several 2005 sets including autos in the Bowman Chrome Draft and Bowman Sterling sets.  Currently, his Bowman Chrome Draft autos sell for about $65-70 each and his Sterlings for $36-40 each.  Much more affordable are his 2005 Topps Chrome Update RC’s which sell for  $4-5 and his Bowman Heritage RC’s which sell for $2.50-3.00 a piece.  Given Rasmus’ uncertain health status and mildly disappointing season, I think his lower dollar RC’s are the better bet.  The Cardinals are going to be in the post season hunt and Rasmus should soon serve as an important contributor to that quest. 

 

2.) Matt LaPorta—Cleveland Indians OF

  • Laporta’s move to the American League has helped him considerably as a prospect as he now has the opportunity to showcase his Major League ready bat as a DH for the Indians.  With the Indians conceding the AL Central race, it seems reasonable to expect LaPorta to get a look sooner rather than later.  Matt LaPorta still struggles to hit left-handed pitching on a consistent basis (.250 in 76 AB), but I don’t see this as being a long term issue.  LaPorta in his prime will be a 30-40 HR hitter which makes his current online sales of 2007 Bowman Chrome Draft cards a bargain at $4-5 each.  I think these cards will double as LaPorta begins to smack HR’s at Jacobs Field later this season.  Looking for an auto?  His Bowman Sterling autos sell for $60-65 each and his Elite Extra sell for $70-80 a pop.  Best values can be found in his regular Bowman Draft cards which can be had at $1.00-1.50 each.  Once he arrives, all collectors will want his cards and, I believe the best bang for the buck will be found in his Bowman Draft and Chrome cards.

 

1.) David Price—Tampa Bay Rays LHP

  • This guy is blazing through the minor leagues compiling a perfect 7-0 record with a 1.68 ERA between Single-A Vero Beach and AA Montgomery.  Price features three very good pitches, a 94-96 MPH fastball, a wicked 87 MPH slider and a plus changeup.  The Rays are in uncharted waters hunting for their first post-season bid and Price is ready to join that rotation.  Currently, his 2007 Bowman Chrome Draft cards sell for about $4-5 each which, on the surface, is a bit high for a AA pitcher.  However, if he were to win some games down the stretch for the Rays, this card could easily double in price.  His ’07 autos, in Donruss Elite Extra and Bowman Sterling are a more costly investment ranging from $55-75 each.  My advice for a top prospect like Price, is to grab the lower-end stuff like his Bowman Draft cards which sell for less than $2 each.  Price will grab the attention of even the fringe card collectors, who in my experience, pay the most for a player’s RC when they begin to make an impact at the major league level.  If you can snag a lot of these cards, you will likely enjoy exponential profits in a short amount of time.

 

There’s my 10!  Let’s see how my predictions pan out and feel free to offer up some of your own.  Keep posted, I will be putting on some minor league reports on the blog soon.

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  1. […] have written several articles about the Boston Red Sox top pitching prospect chronicling his meteoric ascention to the major […]


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