What seemed potentially impossible just a few months ago amazingly came to fruition this past week: Major League Baseball completed the 2020 season. After all the cancelled games, seven game double headers, runners in scoring position, and all the other quirks of the season, October baseball is finally upon us. And with the cooler weather blows in the winds of change for prospect card prices as well. Several young players finished with the 2020 campaign strong to help boost their card values while others tapered off. Those performances were reflected in the card market for this week. Some reflections were expected while others were a bit more surprising. For the most part though, it was a strong batch of prospects to round out the 2020 season.
A note before getting to the trending list. Last week I only compared the five most recent sales against the five sales before that to see who was trending. This week, if more than five sales were made in a week, that number of sales was compared against the same number of sales leading into that. For example, Ke’Bryan Hayes had 17 sales this week, so I compared those to the previous 17 sales before that. I believe this a way to get a more accurate reflection of a hot card. Also, players that have not seen any card sales in the previous week have not been included. Even if there is a significant difference between the last ten sales prices, if no cards have been sold they aren’t really trending. This should provide a clearer picture of the active market and keep the list from getting stale by featuring the same cards every week.
Now that those new refinements have been established, I present the trending list for September 30, 2020.
2019 Bowman Chrome Luis Garcia
Collectors have taken a sudden interest in the Philadelphia Phillies number two hitting prospect. Over the last week, there have been six sales at an average of $20.73 of the raw, base first Bowman Chrome autograph of the 20 year old Dominican. Prior to the sudden boom, the previous six sales made from August 21 – September 17 came in at a $12.69 average sale price. Quite honestly, I’m not sure what has given rise to the new popularity of the Single A middle infielder. During the 2019 season with the Lakewood Blue Claws, Garcia struggled mightily at the plate, hitting .186/.261/.255 in 524 plate appearances across 127 games. He is not expected to reach the major league level until 2022. The only explanation I can guess is that collectors may have gotten confused when the Phillies played the Nationals in the second to last series of the season. During which, Washington call up Luis Garcia started all three games. This case of mistaken identity may have benefited those collectors holding Philadelphia’s number six prospect and I expect this card value to drop back down soon.
2018 Bowman Chrome Brandon Marsh
Sales of first Bowman Chrome autograph of the Angels’ 2016 second round pick have been up and down all season. Generally though, they have stayed within the $20 – $30 range. However, some collectors looked to be selling low in mid-August, when value for the 22 year old Georgia native bottomed out at $18.34 average sale price. The five sales since then have brought the Halo’s top prospect back up to a $25.03 average sale price. Although, this week’s trend appears to be a market correction, the high school product could very well continue his trend up. If not for COVID, he may have been called up during the 2020 season. With the Angels missing the playoffs yet again after making aggressive moves last offseason, Marsh could very well get a shot at the 2021 Opening Day lineup in Los Angeles.
2015 Bowman Draft Ke’Bryan Hayes
The Pirates’ rookie phenom gave Pittsburghers something to buy into at the end of a dismal season and collectors were buying. Last week the first Bowman Chrome autograph of the Texas native saw 17 sales for an average $56.70 sale price. This topped the $43.40 average sale price of the previous 17 sales, also made all within one week’s time. By finishing the season with a .376/.442/.682 slash line in 95 plate appearances in 24 games, the 23 year old first round draft pick out of high school has established himself as one of the hottest cards heading into the offseason. Hayes has given collectors good reason to bet on him but whether or not such high production will be sustainable across a full season will be the real gamble.
2016 Bowman Draft Dylan Carlson
Since his August 15 call up, Baseball America’s number ten overall preseason prospect has failed to live up to expectations. In the 35 big league games he appeared in this year he has stayed right at the Mendoza line and hasn’t brought much to offer for on base percentage or slugging either. However, with a playoff spot on the line late in the season, the 33rd overall pick in the 2016 draft recorded seven hits and seven RBIs in crucial games against the Royals and Brewers. The timely hitting led to a resurgence in card sales. The seven sales made this week came to an average $110.57 sale price, up from the $84.96 average sale price made over the previous ten days. After a disappointing debut season, collectors are surely hoping for some postseason magic to regain some of the California native’s previous card values.
2019 Bowman Marco Luciano
Sales prices of the Giants’ number two prospect have been slowly creeping up since the beginning of September. After only recording 13 sales from May through August, the first Bowman Chrome autograph of the 19 year old short stop has sold eight times since the beginning of this month. The five most recent of those sales have sold for a $287.02 average sale price, up from the $234.95 average sale price of the leading five. The Dominican Republic native performed well during the 2019 season, hitting .302/.417/.564 across rookie ball and A- but still isn’t expected to make it to the majors until 2022. Collectors may just be trying to get in early here, and I wouldn’t expect these prices to sky rocket any time in the near future.
2016 Bowman Chrome Oneal Cruz
On Monday, September 21 Oneal Cruz struck and killed three people riding a motorcycle while driving in the Dominican Republic. It is disputed whether drugs or alcohol were involved in the incident but the accident did happen after the nation-wide curfew, which the Domincan Republic put in place to curb the spread of COVID-19. He was arrested at the scene and has since been released on bond. If the 21 year old Cruz is found guilty of driving under the influence he could face up to five years in prison. Since the accident Cruz’s first Bowman Chrome autograph card value has plummeted from a $45.98 average sale price to $19.99 but such a tragic story is hard to frame against baseball card sales. Cruz may be done with baseball for a long time but even worse, three young people have been lost forever. My heart goes out to Jons Sabab, 23, Debo Beato Charles, 20, and Daniela Perez Garcia, 19, and all their families.
2017 Bowman Chrome Evan White
The major leagues have been a major adjustment for Seattle’s former number four overall prospect. After averaging just under .300 in three minor league seasons and over .350 in three college seasons, the left handed first baseman only hit .176 in his first 54 games in the bigs. Collectors that were hopeful around his July 24 call up have since cooled off. The five sales that have been made of University of Kentucky alum this month have come to an average $31.50 sale price. That’s down from the $47.54 average sale price of the previous five sales. There’s still hope for the 24 year old to establish himself since Seattle doesn’t have many other options at first base but he’s going to need to take big steps this offseason to solidify his card values.
2016 Bowman Draft Taylor Trammell
The 23 year old former first round pick has travelled extensively during his minor league career but his card values have remained relative stable along the way. All season long the Georgia native has remained mostly in the $25 – $40 range until a few high sales in late August and early September boosted the average sale price. Five sales from August 31 – September 2 accounted for a $47.29 average sale price. The five sales since then have fallen back down $34.63 average price. Collectors holding the first Bowman Chrome autograph of the Mariners’ number five prospect shouldn’t be too worries about this week’s slight drop. However, with 2020 sensation Kyle Lewis in center and outfielders Jarred Kelenic and Julio Rodriguez in front of 23 year old Trammell, it may be difficult for the high school draft pick to gain much value long term.
2015 Bowman Draft Ryan Mountcastle
The Orioles new first baseman has the distinction of being the first player named to the hot list and be trending down in the same week. Despite posting eleven sales during the week of September 21 – 27, those sales averaged $60.84, down from the $81.29 average sale price of the previous eleven sales. Collectors could be responding more to the O’s weak season than the Floridian’s individual performance. Mountcastle finished the 2020 campaign with nine hits in the last five games, despite Baltimore dropping three of them. Playing on a weak team, combined with a small collecting base doesn’t bode well the 2015 36th overall pick. In the AL East alone, his card values will be competing against Yankees and Red Sox collectors, a rejuvenated young Blue Jays team, and a Rays team with a perennially strong farm system. That’s not to say Mountcastle’s values won’t go up, but his cards will be facing strong collecting competition amongst a weak collecting base.
2018 Bowman Andres Gimenez*
The Mets and their early season call up finished the season well below where many speculators hoped they would. Following a promising start, the ‘Mazin’s middle infielder saw a surge in card value in mid-August before beginning to decline. There was another spike later in the season but the seven sales over last week amounted to an average sale price of $30.54 while the previous seven sales came to a $40.30 average sale price. With the Mets on the outside looking in this postseason, there isn’t much that can add to the value of the short stop’s first Bowman Chrome autograph. The 22 year old still has room to grow before his sophomore season but after finishing the season behind incumbent Ahmed Rosario on the depth chart it doesn’t appear that there will be much growth in Gimenez’s card value over the offseason.