I’ve been watching the breaks over at Freedom Card Board for 2010 Bowman Chrome Baseball, and there seems to be a common reaction to the USA autographs.
“Who the hell are these guys?”
Well, in case you’re one of those people that fail to follow the amateur players before the draft, below is a short breakdown of the 20-card USA autographed set. Hopefully this helps you decide on who to buy and who to avoid, using the stoplight formula – Green Light, Yellow Light, Red Light.
USA-1 Albert Almora – One of the most talented pure players on the roster, although he was playing over his age group. Don’t let his stats fool you though, he is a serious multi-tool player. He also was a member of the 16U team, which could mean over saturation of the market when Bowman Chrome Draft releases. Buy this one at caution (also considering he is a 2012 prospect), but as a prospect he is as projectable as they come. YELLOW LIGHT, due to many more autos.
USA-2 Daniel Camarena – Camarena is an enigma prospect in that he lacks a true position in the field due to his power output with a solid hit tool, but he does excel on the mound. He was featured in the 2008-09 Upper Deck 16U patch/auto set (50 copies), so this is only his second auto release. If he is drafted as a pitcher in 2011, he is a solid buy. GREEN LIGHT
USA-3 Nicky Delmonico - One of the most athletic and pure hitting prospects in the 2011 draft class, Delmonico is a true gamer. Capable of playing middle infield and catcher, he flashes solid tools across the board, along with great make-up. Unfortunately, this is his third auto release for USA and it looks like prices will be low. On talent alone I would say buy, but because he has so much stuff available it’s too hard to be confident on ROI. YELLOW LIGHT
USA-4 John Hochstatter - Projectable LHP w/ size and a good feel for his stuff. He is listed at 6’4 205lbs already, but his velocity is only topping out high-80′s. Still knows how to pitch and has some advanced knowledge of his secondary pitches (curve & change). Only had an autograph in the 16U Upper Deck set, so this is a good alternative for buyers wanting some chrome. YELLOW LIGHT
USA-5 Francisco Lindor - If you’re looking for a true SS prospect, then it doesn’t get much better than Lindor. Great attitude, slick defense, surprising power, and great hit tool. He shows how much he loves the game by playing with a permanent smile on his face and has some speed on the base paths, although not a burner. It’s worth noting…he won the 2010 AFLAC Home Run Derby despite being the smallest guy competing. A little undersized but still a top pick in 2011 draft. GREEN LIGHT
USA-6 Marcus Littlewood - One of my favorite prospects and signed by Seattle Mariners in 2010 draft. Doesn’t have any tool that is a standout, but he flashes consistent solid tools across the board. Grew up around the game and worked hard to get where he is today. Great attitude and work ethic, as well the tools to be a successful pro at 3B. Needs to show power for the position though, which will happen with time. He has autos in 2010 Elite and 2008 Upper Deck 16U Patch/Auto set. YELLOW LIGHT
USA-7 Christian Lopes - Another one of my favorite players and Lopes dates back to 2008 when I first saw him. Some of his BP rounds remind me a lot of Alex Rodriguez with his swing mechanics, but he certainly doesn’t have that type of size or power. He does flash some great hit tools and solid power, so the question is if he will stay on the right side of the infield. He’s made some tremendous strides in the last year or so, and should go in the top 2 rounds in 2011 draft. Only had one other auto from Upper Deck, 16 patch/auto which is limited to 50. GREEN LIGHT
USA-8 Michael Lorenzen – Another player from the 2008 Upper Deck 16U set with some interesting toolsets. He has a cannon of an arm from the OF that has been clocked at 100 MPH, but he needs to put on some bulk. Faily skinny and lanky, Lorenzen’s power outputs are a little under the levels for the position. He also can pitch, hitting 93MPH w/ fastball, but he needs some work to be a consistent starter. He didn’t sign with TB in the 2010 MLB draft, so he’s attending CAL State Fullerton. If you plan to invest, note that he is a 2013 draftee. RED LIGHT, take a flyer and follow.
USA-9 Dillon Maples - The more I see of Maples, the more I really like his projection and tools. Already committed to UNC as a RHP, Maples can sit around 94-95 with the FB and flash some low 80′s secondary pitches that are plus pitches. He also has the size to dream on (6’3, 195 lbs), which should help his velocity development. If you want a projectable pitcher w/ some serious tools, this is a no brainer in the set after Starling. GREEN LIGHT
USA-10 Lance McCullers – Between Perfect Game and Baseball America, McCullers is pojected one of the top HS picks for 2012. His tools on the mound outweigh his offensive tools as an 3B/SS and posted a 0.00 ERA with Team USA this summer in relief. He has topped out at 97MPH with the FB. Given his age and projection, he should be starting to develop more this coming year and a second stint with USA is likely. If you want to hold for longer term, grab some McCullers. GREEN LIGHT
USA-11 Christian Montgomery - Great stuff, but a bad body. Good lord is that a bad body. Unfortunately, that is the one thing holding him back from consistency and maximizing his tools. He runs the FB up to 94 w/ some above average secondary pitch (curve). If he can actually drop 15-20 pounds, he can certainly be in talks for first round in 2011 draft. YELLOW/RED LIGHT, due to conditioning.
USA-12 Henry Owens – One of the LHP in the set that people are split on, mainly because of his velocity and release point. Owens has the projectable size (6’6, 190lbs) but his velocity only sits at 89-91 at the moment. His release is more of a 3/4 drop slot, which helps him hide the ball from hitters. He’ll need some time to bulk up and add some velocity, but he is a guy you can follow. Owens had some good success at the 2010 tournament and this is his first USA card release. YELLOW LIGHT
USA-13 Phillip Pfeifer III - Pfeifer fits the pitcher mold perfectly. Fearless, funky, and loves to throw. A teammate of Nicky Delmonico and a USA prospect for a few years now, he has had some staggering results. Some people have worries wbout his overuse for HS team and now USA teams, but he has shown to be durable so far. If you can stand that he has a ton of other USA autos, these are an interesting buy for pitching prospectors. YELLOW LIGHT
USA-14 Brian Ragira -Consider Ragira as another prospect who fell in the 2010 draft due to signability and chose college instead. Already tall, lean, and athletic, Ragira has the tools to be a 5-tool OF prospect in a couple years. He has the power potential and speed to complement it. Keep an eye on Ragira this coming season. He has autos in the 2009 Upper Deck sets, but as a chrome it’s a longer term buy. YELLOW LIGHT
USA-15 John Simms - Normally, when you see a pitcher finish his 2010 USA season with the stats of Simms, you would say he is a no-brainer in terms of investment. Simms seems to be a late bloomer and finally showing that his body and tools are aligning at the right time for the 2011 draft. He is a Rice commitment, which are usually tough signs, but if he continues to improve, he could be a high pick. Likely not a 1st rounder, but he’s worth keeping an eye on due to his projectable size. He is essentially Henry Owens from the right side, but with less height and secondary stuff. RED LIGHT, for now.
USA-16 Elvin Soto - Being a NYC based prospect, I should really like Soto as a prospect. Well, for me, there is just too much hit and miss with his swing. He’s a switch hitting catcher w/ power potential and good defensive ability, but he doesn’t make enough contact. The competition in NY area isn’t like the rest of the country (or the world) and it showed in his poor tournament stats. RED LIGHT
USA-17 Bubba Starling - Another folk-legend athlete that get’s mixed reviews from every person you talk to. Some love the swing and see Dale Murphy, others think his bat is too far behind his athleticism. Some think he’s best suited as a pitcher, like Zach Lee last draft (I’m one of those people), while others think football is really his calling. He is the top name in this sat based on his projection, but take a wait-and-see attitude. Starling could either put it all together or be pushed towards the other sport (football). GREEN LIGHT w/ time to follow him.
USA-18 Blake Swihart - The more you read and watch of Swihart, the more you start to really believe in him as a catching prospect. Switch hitter w/ power, defense, great pop times & arm, make-up, and positive results in international play. All that leads to a potential offensive package at catcher position, much like Yasmani Grandal was in this last draft. Should be interesting to see how his senior season goes and how much his stock rises. GREEN LIGHT
USA-19 A.J. Vanegas – To me, Vanegas is a USA prospect that will benefit from 3 years of college ball. He was a 2010 Draftee that didn’t sign (7th round, Padres) and has the stuff to grow on as he fills out and learns the nuances of pitching. He sits around 93MPH and complements with a true secondary out pitch (hard curve). He has the size to dream on (6’3, 200), so it’s all about time. He has autos from the 2009 Upper Deck USA set, but some chrome can’t hurt either. GREEN LIGHT
USA-20 Tony Wolters - Every see an undersized infielder with the looks of a ball player, the ability of a bigger player, and the moxie that draws you in for more? Well, that’s Tony Wolters in a nutshell. He has the looks and attitude to be a leader, and his tools play well above his size. His power is above average for his size, but it probably equals more like 10-15 a year at MLB level. His glove on the other hand is extremely high, making everyone look all too easy. He was drafted in 3rd round of 2010 draft by the Indians and will get the chance to stay at SS or 2B. Has some previous cards and is in 2010 Elite as an SP auto (99 copies). RED LIGHT, but purely based on MLB cards.
For more USA Sports Card Information, Check out USA Future Watch.