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The Top 10 MLB Prospects and Their Rookie Cards to Look Out For on eBay

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Jason Koeppel // ONE37pm

Nothing gets baseball fans more fired up than when the next “can’t miss" prospect is ascending in their favorite team’s farm system. Typically, for years before the player makes their MLB debut there are countless articles hyping them up as a transcendent talent capable of carrying the organization on their back for the next decade.

In the sports card market, prospecting is the number one challenge, but can be the most rewarding. However, investing in players who have never seen a major league at-bat can be risky. The massive hype that builds around these supposed “future stars” sets prices that have real life stats and accomplishments already baked-in. If the prospect makes it to the big show and doesn’t live up to that hype, the losses can be dramatic. However, if they live up to–or exceed their expectations–investors can cash in.

As an example, imagine if you were a big believer in Mike Trout before he took his first professional at-bat. 

The list below breaks down my top 10 current prospects and young players whose cards you should be looking out for:

1. Wander Franco - Tampa Bay Rays, SS

wander
eBay

2019 Bowman Chrome Prospects Auto - PSA 10

Current Price: $2512

Widely regarded as the top prospect in baseball, fans are going to have to wait a little bit longer before he steps foot onto a major league field. In what seems to be a small-market team manipulating the service time loophole that allows teams to keep a player under contract for an additional year, the Rays decided to send Franco back to the minor leagues to start the 2021 season.

That said, the extra time in the minors could do him some good, as the pandemic cancelled his entire 2020 season and he still has yet to have one at-bat in a regular season game above Class-A ball.

The hobby, however, is well aware of Wander Franco's potential greatness, so prices are high. But if you are considering making an investment in him, doing so before he proves that the hype was warranted is probably a good play.

2. Jarred Kelenic - Seattle Mariners, OF

kelenic
eBay

2018 Bowman Chrome Draft Auto - PSA 10

Current Price: $1453.97

As a die-hard New York Mets fan, this one is going to be tough to write. The fact that former Mets General Manager Brodie Van Wagenen traded Kelenic to the Mariners for Robinson Cano's outlandish contract and a relief pitcher (Edwin Diaz) who can't get anybody out literally haunts me every single day.

Kelenic opens the 2021 season with the second best odds to win the American League Rookie of the Year (+750) after Randy Arozarena (+400), which speaks volumes about what people think about his talent. However–like Wander Franco–he will start the 2021 season in the minor leagues.

I might have to buy one of his rookie autos and hold on to it, just so I can actually enjoy when he lights up the league instead of being angry at my father for passing his Mets fandom on to me!

3. Kyle Lewis - Seattle Mariners, OF

lewis
eBay

2016 Bowman Chrome Base Auto - PSA 10

Current Price: $799

The reigning American League Rookie of the Year is currently sidelined with a bone bruise in his right knee and he will miss the first couple weeks of the season.

Lewis put up some solid numbers in the pandemic shortened 2020 season, with 11 home runs, 28 RBIs and a .262 batting average in just 58 games.

When Lewis is back healthy–and Jarred Kelenic is eventually called up to the big leagues–Mariners fans will certainly have a lot of cause for optimism. And we haven't even discussed the next player on this list yet!

Unlike many of the other players on this list, Lewis has already proven that he can play in the Majors. The only question is whether or not he can take the next step.

4. Julio Rodriguez - Seattle Mariners, OF

rodriguez
eBay

2019 Bowman Chrome Prospect Auto - PSA 10

Current Price: $1700

In what has become a bit of an embarrassment of riches on this list, the Mariners employ three of my top four prospects. In what is becoming a theme, Julio Rodriguez will also start the 2021 season in the minor leagues and will likely report to Triple-A Tacoma to kick-off the season.

In 17 Cactus League games this spring, he had 2 home runs, 4 RBIs and slashed .333/.444/.600. To think that the Mariners outfield will soon be Kelenic/Lewis/Rodriguez is scary for the rest of baseball. They could absolutely dominate for the next decade if all breaks right.

5. Bo Bichette - Toronto Blue Jays, SS

bichette
eBay

2016 Bowman Chrome Draft Picks Auto - PSA 10

Current Price: $1184

The Toronto Blue Jays have a loaded group of young players of their own, with Bo Bichette, Cavan Biggio and Vladimir Guerrero, Jr.

Bichette has now played in 75 major league games (319 at-bats) and boasts a .307 batting average with 16 home runs and 44 RBIs. He missed a month last season with an injured knee, but before the injury was hitting .361 with a 1.063 OPS, including five home runs and four stolen bases in just 14 games.

There is no question that Bichette has all the talent in the world. I am absolutely a buyer of all-things Bo Bichette.

6. MacKenzie Gore - San Diego Padres, P

gore
eBay

2017 Bowman Chrome Draft Picks Auto - PSA 10

Current Price: $300

Gore entered the Spring in a competition to be the Padres 5th starter, but will likely begin the season in the minors as he struggled to locate his pitches over five Cactus League outings. In 11 innings, he gave up seven runs (six earned) on 12 hits and eight walks.

That said, Gore is still widely regarded as the best pitching prospect in baseball and was selected as the No. 6 overall prospect in this poll. Pitchers' cards don't historically sell for anywhere near what position players can fetch in an auction, but he is certainly somebody to keep an eye on, as it works both ways. The lower cost of entry on his cards compared to the other prospects on this list is what makes him such an interesting play, even if the upside is relatively limited.

7. Dylan Carlson - St Louis Cardinals, OF

carlson
eBay

2016 Bowman Chrome Draft Picks Auto - PSA 10

Current Price: $800

After a rough start to the spring, the Cardinals' rookie outfielder heated up as Opening Day approached. Carlson is one of the favorites to win National League Rookie of the Year (+850) and has been the Cardinals top hitting prospect for years. It's time for him to step up and prove it.

He very well could be batting second in the Cardinals lineup in front of Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado, so he will see plenty of good pitches to hit.

The Cardinals are almost always in the mix in the playoff race. I don't have to tell you what winning the Rookie of the Year on a playoff team will do to the value of his cards, but be careful because this one feels like it could also very easily go in the other direction.

8. Jo Adell - Anaheim Angels, OF

adell
eBay

2017 Bowman Chrome Draft Picks Auto - PSA 10

Current Price: $928

Jo Adell is another player with incredible upside who also scares me. At the top of my mind is his awful stat line during his short 2020 appearance in the Majors. He had 124 at-bats, only 20 hits (.161 BA) and 55 strikeouts. He also looked lost defensively.

He improved a bit this spring, batting .263 with two home runs and six RBIs in 15 games, but was optioned back to the minor leagues to start the season and continue his development.

Adell has a ton of power, but I see some troubling things in his game. When you combine that with the prices of his cards, I can think of much safer and better plays.

9. Spencer Torkelson - Detroit Tigers, 3rd Base

torkelson
eBay

2020 Bowman Chrome Draft Picks Auto (Raw)

Current Price: $596 (raw)

I don't know if I should blame the long PSA backlog, but I can't find one single instance of a PSA 10 graded copy of this card being sold.

Or maybe it's this... Torkelson was absolutely atrocious this spring. In 26 at-bats, he had only one hit (.038 BA) and 16 strikeouts. Predictably, he will start the season in the minors.

Despite his struggles this spring, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 MLB draft comes with a highly touted bat, but questions on defense, as he was recently switched from first to third base.

Is this just a case of being away from the field due to last year's COVID-cancelled season, and having to get his timing back? I think so, and it presents an opportunity to buy up some raw cards while he hopefully gets his swing back.

10. Adley Rutschman - Baltimore Orioles, Catcher

rutschman
eBay

Bowman Chrome Draft Picks Auto - PSA 10

Current Price: $821.55

Rutschman is possibly the most hyped catching prospect in the history of baseball and is widely considered the top prospect in the Orioles organization.

He currently has the sixth best odds of winning the American League Rookie of the Year (+1200) but nobody is even sure if he will get a single at-bat in the Majors this year. When you combine that with the fact that the Orioles are one of the worst teams in baseball, he likely won't be shining on the big stage anytime soon.

If his prices drop a bit, I would be interested. As it sits right now, for similar money, I think you can make better plays.

Honorable Mentions:

11. Marco Luciano - San Francisco Giants, SS

luciano
eBay

2019 Bowman Chrome Prospect Auto - PSA 10

Current Price: $1006

The San Francisco Giants' top prospect, the 19-year-old Luciano has drawn comparisons to Xander Bogarts. He is projected to hit the Majors somewhere around the end of 2022 or start of the 2023 season.

As we know, a lot can happen in that time. At his age, this is pure prospecting (although at least it's prospecting at one-third the price of the next guy on the list). Luciano has incredible upside, and at his prices could absolutely be worth the gamble, but you will likely have to be patient.

12. Jasson Dominguez - New York Yankees, OF

dominguez
eBay

2020 Bowman Chrome Prospect Auto - PSA 10

Current Price: $3100

The Yankees top prospect is on hype-overload. His prices are absolutely out of control. We recently ran this piece of content on @cardtalkpod: