Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Getting Ahead of the Market

I'm not much of a baseball card prospector, although I do love to follow minor league baseballtop prospect lists, and especially Cubs farmhands.  I'm also not one to invest in cards for the money. I see myself as more of a collector rather than investor. But, this post from The Lost Collector got me thinking about the current state of affairs in MLB and how it relates to card collecting.

I read this paragraph from an article on CBS Sports and found an angle the card collector, on a budget, could maybe help grow his/her budget. 

No minor league baseball? Okay. Wrap your head around that for a second. 

I believe there are 160 MiLB teams, not including instructional complexes and summer leagues, which amounts to 4,000+ minor league players. That's a year of development down the drain for a lot of players. 

But what about a guy like Nate Pearson, a former #1 draft pick flamethrower? Pearson is's #8 prospect and he was lighting it up in Spring Training, but the Blue Jays were still on the fence about bringing him up. 

The Blue Jays had nothing to lose by sending him to Buffalo to start the season. In fact, they would have gained a year of control if they held him down past the Super Two cutoff date. 

But, there won't be minor league baseball this year. Toronto can't send him down and they can't afford to lose a year of development on such a talented arm. As it's outlined above, one would assume that at a minimum Pearson would make the taxi squad. 

What that does that do to his value in the card collecting world? I think any prospect who makes a taxi squad will naturally be given a little more attention and their card prices will jump as a result.

How big of a jump are we talking? Like any player, it depends on the pedigree, the market, and the opportunity. 

Opportunities are being created by MLB in some cases. Take the Cardinals' outfield situation for instance: Dexter Fowler, Harrison Bader, Tyler O'Neill, Lane Thomas, and maybe even Tommy Edman. Those names don't exactly scare anybody. Enter the concept of the universal DH into the National League and Dylan Carlson. Carlson is a switch hitting 21-year-old phenom, who is ranked #17 on's Top 100 Prospects List.

Carlson is the future of the Cardinals' outfield. He needs to play. I suppose he could sit on the taxi squad and take some BP, but there's nothing like seeing live pitching to help improve upon a career arc. The Cardinals are a smart organization and they'll do what's best for one of their young gems.

Take a moment and thing about how many rookies we see in normal year of baseball. Now think about how many of them actually make an impact during their time in the majors. I think those numbers will certainly increase during the 2020 season.

MLB and the player's union both seem intent on expanding the rosters and limiting injuries. Both of those actions invite more playing time for other players. And if you have to choose between Nico Hoerner and Daniel Descalso getting live reps or no reps, then who do you think a GM will push for? The experience of a player like Descalso has some advantages, especially for a playoff team, but I have to think MLB teams have an eye on the future. Young, near-ready MLB talent sitting on a taxi squad doesn't help the future.

So, do a little research. Pearson and Carlson are known commodities and their card prices reflect that. Find out which teams had position battles this past spring involving a prospect who might be ready. Take the time to investigate which minor league players, who are deemed further away, were invited to major league camp to get a look. These are the younger players who I think potentially will be a given a shot this year. Once you have identified a couple of them invest a bit. When they get the call and the market jumps, then flip them for something you'd really like for your collection.

The 2020 season is going to be different. That we know for sure. Above are just the ponderings of an educated fan and what could possibly play out.

If you're like me, you're doing your research because you can't afford a Jasson Dominguez card.  I'll go invest in some Kyle Wright, Daulton Varsho, and Jesus Sanchez and watch how 2020 unfolds.

Thanks for reading!


  1. I think I might give this some consideration. The dodgers and twins both have some decent talent in the pipeline.

  2. Nothing against this type of collecting. I think it's great that there are people out there willing to drop tens of thousands of dollars on guys who haven't played a single MLB game. It's their money and it's not hurting anyone (unless they unable to buy groceries for their spouses and children). I typically avoid prospects... at least the high end stuff, because I'd rather buy guys that are already established.

  3. Unfortunately I don't have $16,200 to throw away so I'll pass for now.

  4. It's pretty insane. I've always liked prospects, but not for investment purposes. Just to follow along, as I enjoy the minors and climb to the big leagues. Although I won't lie, I have picked up a few Clarke Schmidts with the intention of holding and selling if/when he debuts.

  5. This gives me a headache. Per usual, I'll stick to established major leaguers, thank you.

  6. I'm not a prospector and I will not be putting into action what I've outlined above, but I'm very curious to see how this post ages.
    Related content:

    1. Article making a case for the Tigers' top prospect to make the big league roster rather than missing out on a season of development:

  7. I've mentioned OOTP on your blog before, and I'll mention it again: I know almost nothing about prospects, but one of the side benefits of playing OOTP has been getting to see how said prospects "develop" in my simulations. Daulton Varsho in particular seems to become a star in every game I play.