Atlanta Sports Cards Presents…..

“2012 Pre-Season Baseball Card Investment Hot Sheet”

Last year, those who kept up with our baseball card Hot Sheets and Investment columns were on the whole rewarded as now expensive cards such as Matt Moore autos, Jurickson Profar rookies, and Taijuan Walker cards, to name three, were profiled, sometimes ad-nauseam, and those who purchased these cards saw unparalleled gains, unseen for any baseball cards, in years.

This year at ASC, we will leave the nightly updates to a site dedicated to just that, a great twitter/website group known as topprospectalert.com.   There, you can see, in real time, how baseball prospects are performing.  Here, we will devote our resources to hobby articles only, including last year’s heralded weekly Hot Sheet, which tracks the top Ebay gainers on a weekly basis, and investment articles, such as “Money Where My Mouth Is,” and others, which aim to point you in the right direction as to what the best cards to keep an eye on are, and what wax boxes are beneficial to purchase.  As far as wax is concerned, prospectors want to focus on which particular boxes contain the most bang for their buck, and by the same token, have the lease amount of “risk,” involved, or in simple terms, what boxes can you open and, even if it isn’t a great box, can expect will contain enough cards to cover as much of the box cost as possible.

Let’s start by introducing our Top 40 Prospects.  While other sites have lists that tend to feed off of other lists, and scouts consensuses, our list is compiled with a Hobby twist, with no relation to any other “Top X” list, so it may differ from many other lists you’ve seen.  But here at ASC, we love to be different, as last year we broke ground by being the only mass marketplace website to offer editorial pieces on a daily and weekly basis.

Top 25 Prospects

  1. Matt Moore, P, Rays
  2. Bryce Harper, OF, Nats
  3. Trevor Bauer, P, DBacks
  4. Jurickson Profar, SS, Rangers
  5. Randall Delgado, P, Braves
  6. Nolan Arenado, 3B, Rockies
  7. Mike Trout, IF, Angels
  8. Manny Machado, SS, O’s
  9. Taijuan Walker, P, Mariners
  10. Gary Brown, CF, Giants
  11. Anthony Rendon, 3B, Nats
  12. Miguel Sano, 3B, Twins
  13. Julio Teheran, P, Braves
  14. Jesus Montero, C, Mariners (traded for Mike Pineda)
  15. Brad Peacock, P, A’s
  16. Drew Smyly, P, Tigers
  17. Shelby Miller, P, Cards
  18. Michael Choice, OF, A’s
  19. Yasmani Grandal, C, Padres (traded for Mat Latos)
  20. Gerrit Cole, P, Pirates
  21. Tyler Skaggs, P, DBacks
  22. Tim Wheeler, OF, Rockies
  23. Dylan Bundy, P, O’s
  24. Danny Hultzen, P, Mariners
  25. Jameson Taillon, P, Pirates
  26. Bryce Brentz, OF, Red Sox
  27. Jacob Turner, P, Tigers
  28. Zach Wheeler, P, Mets
  29. Justin Nicolino, P, Jays
  30. Bubba Starling, OF, Royals
  31. Jake Marsinick, OF, Jays
  32. Christian Yelich, OF, Marlins
  33. Drew Pomeranz, P, Rockies
  34. Josh Bell, OF, Pirates
  35. Will Myers, C, Royals
  36. Arodys Vizcaino, P, Braves
  37. Jessie Biddle, P, Phillies
  38. Brett Jackson, OF, Cubs
  39. Mike Olt, 3B, Rangers
  40. Robbie Erlin, P, Rangers.

Top 10 Cards to Watch as season begins (Remember you can click the photo to see these cards currently selling on eBay):

1.     Drew Smyly 2010 Elite Auto /799

The mantra all prospectors should have is, “Look for players that have just one autograph on the market.”  Smyly fits that bill, and for under $20, you should load up on every, and all of these as you can.  There aren’t a ton on Ebay, so shows and marketplaces are a good option.  Smyly is already in contention for a starting job this year, as DetroitNews.com illustrates:

“One benefit to drafting college players is how rapidly some can compete for big league jobs.

Drew  Smyly, for example.

The Tigers’ second-round pick in 2010, a University of Arkansas left-hander, is among the half-dozen pitchers tussling for a job as manager Jim Leyland’s fifth starter in 2012.

Smyly blasted into contention after a 2011 season that saw him go 7-3 with a 2.58 earned-run average at Single-A Lakeland, followed by a stint at Double-A Erie, where he was 4-3 with a 1.18 ERA.”

2.    2011 Michael Pineda Autos

Now that the rookie 2011 All-Star fireballer is on the Yankees, and as his cards remain fairly cheap (this gold refractor would only set you back a tad over $100), we feel Pineda is an absolute no-brainer now that he’s playing in the Bronx.  He just may end up as the Jeremy Lin of baseball in 2012.  I’m trademarking “Pin-Sanity” now just in case.  Kidding, but probably not a bad idea!

3.   2010 Bowman Nolan Arenado Autos

Last year we harped on Arenado’s huge future and we were rewarded by giant gains on all of his cards.  After winning the Arizona Fall League MVP, it’s only furthered our enthusiasm on an absolute raker, about to be unleashed in the hitter-friendly Mile High atmosphere.  Base autos sell for $30 and refractors $50-$60, numbers that have tripled in the last few months.  But his 2009 Elite (true rookie) remains cheap, and the sky’s the limit for the Bowman issues.  So despite gains, jump on the Arenado bandwagon.

4. 2010 Elite Justin Nicolino Autos

Again, the idea here is to find guys that aren’t yet on top of Hot Lists, and buy low.  Despite being a 2nd rounder in 2010 and dominating last year (see Jays blog entry below), he remains cheap and has just 1 issue.  Low on walks, and high on K’s, Nicolino is young and just missed no hitters on 3 occasions last year.  We love Justin here at ASC:

“The Toronto Bluejays drafted pitcher heavy in the 2010 MLB Draft. In their first 7 picks, 6 of them were pitchers; 4 of them being high school arms. Fans seem to get blinded past right-handers Deck McGuire, Aaron Sanchez, and Noah Syndergaard. Respectfully, McGuire and Syndergaard have performed very well. Aaron Sanchez has run into some trouble in the Appy League.

But the biggest surprise is 2nd round selection Justin Nicolino, a left-handed pitcher out of a Florida high school. Experts projected Nicolino to fall between the 4th and 6th round, but the Jays took a chance, and it looks like a chance well taken.

Out of all the high school pitchers selected by the Jays, Nicolino had the toughest assignment. Reporting to the Vancouver Canadians, a short-season low-A team, he has pitched exceptionally well, well past his years. After his 3 inning relief appearance tonight, Nicolino is now 5-1, with a 1.22 ERA in 8 games, 7 of them in which he started. With a complete game under his belt, the 19-year-old has punched out 51 in just 37 innings of work. More impressively, he’s only surrender 21 hits in those innings.”

He might have 10 walks on the season, but that’s due to his only rough start. Nicolino stands at 6’3″ 160 lbs, clearly there is room for growth. He’s a sleeper Blue Jays pitching prospect from the 2010 draft and it wouldn’t surprise me if the Jays give Nicolino a taste at Lansing.

5. 2011 Bowman Chrome Trevor Bauer Autos

Quite simply, Bauer had the most statistically dominant year of any draftee last year, and the 3rd overall pick was considered a late 1st rounder for most of last year until his dominance caught up with projections.  Personally, I would have drafted him 1st overall, as I think he is far superior to Gerrit Cole.

From Baseball Prospectus

DOB: 1/17/91
Height/Weight: 6-1/175
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: First round, 2011, UCLA
2011 Stats: 3.00 ERA (9-7-4-17) at High-A (3 G). 7.56 ERA (16.2-20-8-26) at Double-A (4 G)
Tools Profile: Small package, huge stuff.

Year in Review: The best pitcher in the draft, statistically, was the third overall pick in the draft and nearly pitched his way to the big leagues in his brief pro debut.
The Good: Despite an unconventional workout regimen, Bauer brings three plus or better pitches to the table. His fastball sits in the 92-95 mph range and can touch 97 when he reaches back for something extra. His curveball is another bat-misser, and he’ll mix in a slider that is at least average and can be a nasty pitch with two-plane break. His changeup is advanced with late, heavy drop through the zone. He earns high grades for his makeup and work ethic.
The Bad: Bauer is not a physical, power pitcher and his delivery is far from easy, but he was worked heavily (bordering on disturbingly so) at UCLA. Still, he has no injury history and his stuff never wavered. His command and control is merely average, and he needs to become more efficient and aggressive with his stuff. To nitpick, while his arsenal is deep, some feel it lacks that one plus-plus offering to make him an ace.
Ephemera: Bauer was an All-State performer at Hart High School, which has produced many big league pitchers including James Shields of the Rays, Royals prospect Mike Montgomery, and former Pirate Bob Walk.
Perfect World Projection: Top of the rotation starter, with some chance of becoming an ace.
Fantasy Impact: Stud.
Path to the Big Leagues: Bauer will get a long look this spring and should not need more than 100 innings to be big league ready.
ETA: 2012.

6. Randall Delgado 2011 Bowman Platinum

Delgado remains “under the radar,” but having seen him pitch in person, as well as talking to Braves people who think the world of him, I think his ceiling is higher than the “consensus” believes.  This card is still under $10, and at that price, it’s a can’t miss.

7. 2010 Bowman Draft Christian Yelich Autos

This 5-tooler is jumping up lists and gaining momentum on all fronts.  His base chrome auto remains around $12, and with the Marlins’ future as bright as it is, he could explode if he starts well this season.

8. 2011 Leaf Metal “1st Autos”

Leaf managed to sign players to contracts that somehow had no autos anywhere else.  Among them: Trevor May, Dylan Bundy, Anthony Rendon, Brad Peacock.  Wax boxes on both products remain cheap and provide good value, so don’t overlook them just because they aren’t Bowman.

9.  2010 Bowman Chrome Robbie Erlin Autos

Erlin, like #10, Tim Wheeler, have exceeded projections since their debuts.  Here, we have to go with statistics, and ignore “experts,” who still value players based on size, velocity, number of pitches, etc.  If Greg Maddux debuted in this era, how many prognosticators would have had the future HOFer on top of lists?  Not all superstar hurlers throw in the mid to high 90s, and Erlin fits that bill.  His cards remain way cheaper than they should if looking at his numbers alone, which are dominant, as his ERA and WHIP were at the top of every level he’s pitched at.

10. 2009 Bowman Draft/Sterling Tim Wheeler Autos

His cards remain cheap despite a 30+ HR season with 20+ SB’s, and a plus .300 average.  When he gets to the show, those numbers should be even gaudier when in Coors Field.  Why experts are still down on Wheeler is a mystery.  Wise collectors will use stats over projections and make some money on Wheeler.


2006 AFLAC Eric Hosmer

Hosmer, who’s already a star in the making, has an AFLAC card (promo) that’s outright dirty hard-to-find.  The last one (last week) on Ebay sold for $55,will turn out to be a steal if Hosmer hits the way he is supposed to.  This diamond in the rough is tough to find, but well worth the look.

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