If you’re a fan of a particular team, you’re always gazing toward the farm and hoping the next phenom will make a difference and improve the fortunes of your squad. In our hearts, however, we know that for every successful rookie there are dozens who don’t ever make the grade.
The 1954 Topps baseball card set tells the story in a unique fashion as it includes the rookie cards of legends Hank Aaron, Ernie Banks & Al Kaline. It also includes the rookie cards of Bill Taylor, Dave Hoskins, Dick Cole, Thornton Kipper, Mike Fornieles, Jack Harshman, Don Liddle, Curt Roberts, Frank Leja and dozens of others.
Thanks to the explosion of Fantasy Baseball and the changing landscape of baseball cards, today’s fan might be interested in prospects beyond the ones on the home-town team. And what collectors really want is a card with the prospect’s autograph that came straight out of a pack. About 15 years ago, the industry re-invented itself by randomly inserting autograph cards into their products. Yes, it made them more expensive but increased the thrill of the chase.
The Bowman brand (a product of the Topps Company) is always the leader in prospect autographs. They dig deeper into the minors and look for players the average fan wouldn’t know. If you bought a box of Bowman cards in 2013, you just might have an Aaron Judge autograph card sitting in a box somewhere. For 2017, the three different Bowman products (Bowman, Bowman Chrome & Bowman Draft) will all have a selection of these players. Let’s look at some of the prospects who have signed cards this year…and if you’ve ever heard of them.
> Ronald Acuna, Braves OF & #7 Prospect – At age 19, he’s already been promoted to AA where he’s batting over .300
> Chance Adams, Yankees P & #7 Prospect – In the rotation at AAA with a 2.43 ERA and 0.93 WHIP
> Christian Arroyo, Giants SS & #2 Prospect – Has already seen some MLB time at age 21 and could be their 3B in 2018.
> Taylor Clarke, D’Backs P & #5 Prospect – Starting at AA with over a strikeout per inning and an ERA under 3.00
> Kyle Funkhouser, Tigers P & #6 Prospect – Has made 12 starts in the minors and has 83 K’s in 62+ IP
> Jason Groome, Red Sox P & #2 Prospect – Only 18 years old and the #12 pick in last June’s draft
> Lourdes Gurriel, Blue Jays SS – His brother Yuli is the Astros 1B but is 10 years older at age 33…the Cuban defector was just activated from the DL this week in the Florida State League. Last November, the Jays gave him a 7-year contract.
> Eloy Jimenez, Cubs OF & #1 Prospect – At age 20, he’s another future star in the Cubs pipeline
> Kevin Maitan, Braves SS & #2 Prospect – Hasn’t yet made his pro debut but if you’d really like to feel old, he was born on February 12th, 2000
> Triston McKenzie, Indians P & #2 Prospect – Only 19, he’s at A+ and has 91 K’s in 71+ IP
> Mickey Moniak, Phillies OF & #2 Prospect – The #1 overall pick in the June ’16 draft
> Blake Rutherford, Yankees OF & #3 Prospect – Got over $3 Million as the 18th player chosen in the June ’16 draft
> Nick Senzel, Reds 3B & #1 Prospect – The second player taken last June, he’s already batting over .300 in his first pro season
> Gleyber Torres, Yankees SS  Prospect – The prize acquired in last year’s Aroldis Chapman deal Despite this week’s elbow surgery, he’s only 20 years old and already has AAA experience.
That’s just a taste of the young talent who will have autograph cards in the market…pick your favorite.