This list is our interpretation of prospects in the sports card market, and how we see the cards stacking up based on player content. We took into consideration the players current prospect status, room for growth, and cards already on the market. I hope you guys have as much fun reading this as I did writing it. Thanks to FCB moderator Rob Zeida for the assist on some of the athletes I had trouble with write-ups on. If you are looking for their cards on eBay after reading this, the links will take you where you need to go.
1. Blake Griffin – LA Clippers Power Forward- His recent emergence as a hobby staple can’t be ignored. Neither can his highlight reel style of play and endearing personality. When he was drafted people wondered if his physical style of play would translate to the NBA where he would have to out muscle grown men. The early results say that it translates quite well. Recently we have seen a Tim Duncan style short range style from Blake, and I am sure other adjustments are to come. His National Treasures rookie is the card to get, but it’s quickly approaching the Lebron James level of card sales. Those wanting a good, affordable rookie card of him seem to be going for the Topps Chrome refractor numbered to 500 copies.
2. Bryce Harper -Washington Nationals Right Fielder- He is the most hyped baseball draft pick of all time. This coming a year after his team took Steven Strasburg another massively hyped draft pick. Bryce is considered an elite power hitter, with all star level defensive tools that should make him a fan and hobby favorite for years to come. Time will tell what his key rookie card is, for now we have the 2010 Bowman Draft Aflac autograph. If you are in the market for the Aflac, make sure it’s got serial numbering in the top left hand corner. A few of these were signed in person or feature a flat out faked signature as these cards were distributed at the all star show case they are named for.
3. Taylor Hall -Edmonton Oilers Left Wing- In the eyes of many experts the 2010 Hockey draft is one of the best of all time, and Hall leads that class. The #1 overall pick is an elite goal scorer. His combination of speed, soft hands and impeccable shot placement are complimented well by his ability to instinctively react to defenders. His ability to work over defenders makes it look like he has precognitive abilities. Like Harper, the book isn’t closed on Hall rookie cards. I expect his top tier card to come out of Upper Deck’s “The Cup” product, but for now you can pick up his Panini Certified for about $100. As far as other Upper Deck products go, his SPX is a redemption and SP Authentic isn’t out yet.
4. Mike Trout -Anaheim Angels Center Fielder- In order to break down the abilities Trout displays some evaluators have invented the term “6 tool athlete” just for him. Jim Callis of Baseball America quoted a scout who said that a Mikey Mantle comparison for Trout is a pretty good one. He has become the biggest prospect card gainer of this off season as premium cards hit 4 figures. There are still valid concerns about his ability to hit for power, but no one doubts the rest of his skill set. His 2009 Bowman Draft autograph card is the one to have, with Bowman Sterling being an affordable option. ITG releases it’s heroes and prospects set this month, and the premium cards in it should fetch a pretty penny.
5. John Wall -Washington Wizards Point Guard- His first step looks like a blur. His card sales started off with a bang. He has only started building his game and reputation. As hot as his cards have been, it’s only the beginning. The patch autograph out of Panini Limited seems to be the way to go for now with Wall, though I am sure National Treasures will have a card that blows it away. For now, my personal favorite is the Donruss Rated Rookie autograph.