It's 2021 Bowman Draft Day!
2021 Bowman Draft was released at Pal's Sports Cards, at store opening, on December 31, 2021. Some places got their allocations early, as I was starting to see singles popping up online a few days prior. Bowman Draft is a big deal for the niche of collectors (such as myself) that like to follow the minor league prospects before they reach the majors. I watch the draft every year, and keep somewhat of an eye on how the top players do in their professional careers. Bowman Draft offers the first look at that year's drafted players, in their (Photoshopped) Major League uniforms.
Bowman Draft is a product I look forward to even more than regular Bowman.
In addition to Bowman Draft, I saw that boxes of Panini's Elite Extra Edition were also on the shelves. Since Panini can't use any MLB logos or trademarks, that year's draft picks are shown in their high school or college uniforms, with just a generic location for the team that signed them. Since I was buying a box of Bowman Draft, I picked up a box of Elite Extra Edition (or "Generic Draft" as I called it) to compare and contrast.
These products are rather polarizing. I read an opinion online that made the point that it doesn't make sense to invest so much money into players that are highly unlikely to provide a decent return on your investment. And that you should take the money spent on prospecting and use that on established players that have a track record of proven sales.
That's a fair point. The odds of most of these draft picks ever getting more than a full season at the major league level is pretty low. Spending the hundreds of dollars on unopened product would probably be more wisely put towards something far less risky. If making money off cards is your ultimate goal, that just makes sense. But this is the high risk, high reward baseball card lottery of prospecting. Where autographs and serial numbered parallels are king. We've all seen what prices these cards fetch if the player depicted on them becomes a superstar. If the 2021 version of Mike Trout ends up in your collection, you've done well.
And the argument: "Why don't you just use that money to buy Mike Trout cards instead?" is still a valid one.
Before heading to the card shop, I had a couple of other Aarons to run. When I left home, there were just the lightest of flurries falling from the sky. 25 minutes later, as I was leaving the bank, it was small scale blizzarding out. Icy snow was falling and the wind was whipping it around the streets. One of those days where if I absolutely didn't have to be out, there's no way I'd have left the house. But I did have to go out… It was Bowman Draft Day!
I wasn't the only one... Pal’s was very busy. Boxes and Jumbo packs were flying out of the store at an amazing rate. Well over one full 12 box case of Bowman Draft boxes were sold in the under two hours that I was there. Some were opening the packs in the shop and others were leaving with them. A few were even calling back to brag about their hits, or informing the store on their lack of luck. An autographed printing plate came from a box that I could very well have grabbed, and I felt kind of let down that I hadn't.
That’s not to say I wasn’t happy with my box at all...
With a 12 pack Jumbo box, you’re almost assured of a full base set. Obviously that doesn’t interest the collecting market of today too much, but I’m glad I was able to put the full 200 card set together. Just as I did with last year’s Jumbo box. I look at it as more of a record of the time than anything.
More importantly, I was able to get multiple copies of all the top 2021 Draft Picks.
Which is what I was equally interested in.
Some of the Top First Round Draft Picks:
#1 - Pittsburgh Pirates: Henry Davis, C, University Of Louisville
I got a Chrome Refractor, 2 Chrome base and 3 regular base cards of the first overall pick in the draft. So let’s hope the hype lasts! After signing with the Pirates, Davis got into 8 games of Rookie League and Low A ball, going 8 for 26, with 3 HR, in only 31 plate appearances. That’s a pretty good start.
I did get a significant amount of these players in Bowman Chrome parallels, but didn't scan them. The regular card stock scan so much better and show more detail in the photographs. So for the sake of this story, I'm just going with the base versions of most cards. Saves me a lot of time in cleaning up the scans.
A few days later, I pulled the Henry Davis Black & White RayWave refractor...
From a pack of 2021 Bowman Draft Lights 100's BOX!
(No, I'm not going to attempt a rainbow...)
Bowman didn’t make cards for the second overall pick, Jack Leiter, of the Texas Rangers. Bowman tends to hold back a few prospects from the Draft line, so it has some big names to feature in their base set next year. (Like the Miami Marlins' pick of Khalil Watson, 16th overall. A card I was looking forward to.) So you likely have to wait for 2022 Bowman for Jack Leiter and Watson...
#3 - Detroit Tigers: Jackson Jobe, RHP, Heritage Hall High School (OK)
Boy were Tigers fans upset that Detroit took Jobe instead of the much more heralded shortstop prospect, who went 4th. Personally, I’d rather have a strong pitching prospect than a shortstop, as it far easier to get a star shortstop than an ace pitcher. Assuming both players become stars.
Jackson Jobe did not appear in any games in the Tigers system, after signing.
#4 - Boston Red Sox: Marcelo Mayer, SS, Eastlake High School (CA)
The 2021 Draft was heavy on high school shortstop prospects. Since none had been picked yet, that left the damn Red Sox to choose from all of them. They took top ranked Marcelo Mayer, because of course. Nothing personal Mayer, but you’re with the Red Sox now. So I’m not going to like you very much...
My box of Elite Extra Edition even had a Mayer Prizm inside, which I can’t really complain about too loudly...
For his first taste of professional ball, Mayer hit .275 / .377 / .440, with 3 HR and 7 SB over 26 games in the rookie league. Not exceptional, but not bust-level either.
#5 - Baltimore Orioles: Colton Cowser, OF, Sam Houston State University
Cowser hit very well over his first 32 games, split between rookie league and low-A. Putting up a composite .375 / .490 / .492 line with 2 HR and 7 SB. The Orioles continue to collect some impressive slugging prospects.
#6 - Arizona Diamondbacks: Jordan Lawlar, SS, Jesuit Prep (Dallas, TX)
Arizona took the next shortstop prospect with Lawler. The D-Bags put him in 2 games at the Arizona Complex League, and Lawler went 2 for 5, with a double and a stolen base.
#7 - Kansas City Royals: Frank Mozzicato, LHP, East Catholic High School (CT)
The Royals opted to spread their draft pool around and went with Mozzicato at #7. He was predicted as a late third round pick, going into the draft. But KC obviously saw something they liked and took him way early. He didn’t appear in any games in 2021.
Due to his high slot on the draft board, Bowman put him into the Invicta insert set. These fell one per Jumbo box, or one per Super-Jumbo pack. Which were not available one this day. They were a week later, at $128 per 120 card pack. I had to buy one...
#11 - Washington Nationals: Brady House, SS, Winder-Barrow High School (GA)
Skipping ahead a few picks, the Nationals took the third ranked shortstop in the 2021 draft. Pundits declared this as a great pick and predicted the Nationals got a future superstar. Time will tell, although House posted a .322 / .394 / .576 line with 4 HR in 16 games in the rookie league. He did however strike out 13 times, so there’s room to work on a few things first...
And here’s Elite Extra Edition to throw a nice House relic at me!
#12 - Seattle Mariners: Harry Ford, C/OF, North Cobb High School (GA)
Ford was the second catcher drafted in 2021. His first 19 games in rookie ball showed a lot of promise, slashing .291 / .400 / .582, with 3 home runs. It'll probably be 4-5 years at least before Ford plays in Seattle, but it's been a lot longer since the Mariners had a decent catcher.
#13 - Philadelphia Phillies: Andrew Painter, RHP, Calvary Christian Academy (FLA)
Hmmm... Redemption card... Still cool, I guess these are serial numbered to 250, according to what I've read. This was my third autograph from the Jumbo Box, and the highest drafted player's signature. Hard not to get excited by his first 4 games, in only 6 innings, he gave up 4 hits with no walks and striking out 12. Yes, that's just 6 innings in the rookie league, but at 18 years old, I'm interested in seeing how Painter paints 2022.
After I redeem this of course...
I'm not going through the rest of the first round picks in 2021 Bowman Draft, because I don't feel like it. It's time to cover the Colorado Rockies, and see how they're represented in this set. Their first five picks in their draft got cards, and I pulled a nice insert that looks pretty much like this:
2021 Bowman Draft Franchise Futures - Benny Montgomery and Jaden Hill
The first and second Rockies picks get to co-star on their own card!
Chosen 8th overall in the first round, Benny Montgomery is a high school outfielder from Lewisberry, PA. He's predicted to develop more power as he grows into his frame, and his 14 game start shows promised. His rookie league slashline was .340 / .404 / .383. Montgomery didn't hit a home run in this brief cameo, but did steal 5 bases.
Montgomery's Franchise Futures card's other half, Jaden Hill, was the Rockies second round pick. He'd been touted as a great talent, but has missed large portions of his college career due to injury. Including Tommy John Surgery just three months before the 2021 Draft. So he will likely miss a significant part of -if not all of- the 2022 season. The Rockies must feel pretty strongly about Hill's ability to still take him that high, and scouting reports I've read back that up. Given their history, I don't feel very good about this move.
Nothing personal against Jaden...
A bonus pick in the Competitive Balance Round B, Colorado drafted probably the most perfect name in franchise history. Hopefully Joe Rock turns into a diamond, and his first 4 appearances are encouraging. A 1-0 record with an 1.13 ERA, over 8 innings, surrendering only 5 hits and one walk, striking out 11.
McCade Brown was Colorado's third round pick, 79th overall, out of Indiana University. Small sample size warning, but McCade wasn't exactly dominant in his 4 games at the Arizona Complex League. It was only a total of 8 innings, and giving up 10 hits and 3 walks against 9 strikeouts isn't gloom and doom at all. So maybe I'm just being a little too harsh...
In the 4th round, the Rockies took Hunter Goodman, 109th overall, from the university of Memphis. Goodman got off to a good start man, batting .300 / .419 / .517, with 2 home runs in 22 Arizona Complex League games.
Other Rockies Prospects in Bowman Draft:
Signed in 2019 as a 16 year old free agent out of the Dominican Republic. In 2021, Amador played 47 games in the Arizona Complex League, posting a respectable .299 / .394 / .445 line. Adding in 4 home runs and 10 stolen bases on the season.
Carreras signed with Colorado in 2018, and played the Dominican Summer League, before moving onto the Grand Junction (CO) Rockies for 2019. 2020 was missed obviously, and 2021 was spent at Low A Fresno (CA). In parts of 3 seasons in the lowest levels of the Rockies system, Carreras has posted a composite line of .276 / .351 / .438. Slugging 18 Home Runs while stealing 45 bases in 992 plate appearances.
Zac Veen's first card showed up in last year's Bowman Draft, as Colorado's first round pick of 2020 (9th overall). Veen got off to an impressive start in his professional career, spending the entire year at Low A Fresno, at age 19. He played in 106 games, batting a solid .301 / .399 / .501 line, with 15 home runs, 36 stolen bases, 64 walks, and 126 strikeouts. An important building block for the Rockies, he appears to be on his way to fulfilling a serious need. Interested to see how his 2022 season plays out.
2021 Bowman Inception Autograph - Zac Veen
My mom bought a box of 2021 Bowman Inception last fall. She told me that she didn't like the cards that she got, and gave me two of them for X-Mess. Obviously Veen was one of those cards, and it made me very happy! Despite it being a terrible scribble... Not sure what the other 5 cards in the box/pack were...
2021 Elite Extra Edition Future Threads Autograph - Colton Welker
Between the Bowman Draft Jumbo box and the Elite Extra Edition box, this Colton Welker was the only card of player that has appeared in a Major League game. Colorado's 4th Round pick in the 2016 draft, played in 19 games for the Rockies this season. Although he batted only .189 / .250 / .216, with no home runs and 11 strikeouts over 40 MLB plate appearances. This was also the biggest hit from the Elite Extra Edition box. Not a huge name, but if I wasn't going to pull a future superstar, I'm happy to get one from a team I collect.
Although I really hate that orange color, So does not work on any Rockies card...
In addition to the Jumbo box of Bowman Draft, I grabbed 2 more Jumbo packs from by the register. Pal's had a limit of 2 Jumbo packs, or a limit of 1 Jumbo box at the store. That's what I thought, but the limit was “and”, not “or”, so I grabbed both! And since I'm the only person who seems to care about them, I added in another 3 packs of 2020 Bowman Heritage. My habit has become buying 3 packs of them nearly every visit to Pal's. From the looks of the box, I'm still the only customer purchasing them.
2020 Bowman Heritage Chrome Refractor Autograph - Andrew Vaughn
Pal's had two hobby boxes of 2020 Bowman Heritage in the store last Summer. I didn't buy a full box, and instead just bought several packs on each visit. I wrote about that experience last year. None of those packs had an autograph in them (but one of them DID have a Superfractor, my first!), I was still hoping to pull one at some point. After I wrote that story, Brian told me that he ordered another box of 2020 Bowman Heritage, so I could continuing collecting the flashback to one of my favorite sets of all time, 1992 Bowman.
On Bowman Draft Day, Pal's was down to just over half of that box left. I'd been picking away at it diligently, likely with no competition. Even though I've pulled the autograph, I'm not going to stop buying packs. After all, when I bought the last three packs from the box in August, one of them had a Superfractor! I doubt those have all been pulled!
Let's get back to covering the draft. Via Bowman and these guys...
Well Panini, I was looking for those Ultra-Rare cards... But I didn't find them.
That makes them rarer than one per box!
#28 - Tampa Bay Rays: Carson Williams, SS/RHP, Torrey Pines High School (CA)
Panini did give me an autograph of one 2021 First Round Draft Pick. The Rays took Williams 28th overall. He played in 11 games of the Florida Complex League, batting .282 / .404 / .436, with 0 home runs and 2 stolen bases. He took 6 walks and struck out 13 times in 47 plate appearances. Decent numbers, but not worthy of making your signature "C W Star". Awfully presumptuous...
Who does he think he is?
He's clearly no (Name Redacted) Star!
But speaking of stars...
#30 - Cincinnati Reds (compensatory pick): Jay Allen, OF, John Carroll Catholic High School (FL)
Cincinnati was the only team to get a compensation pick in 2021. That happened because the LA Dodgers signed Trevor Bauer for all that money. And look what happened to him...
I really hope Jay Allen turns into a superstar. Then this Aqua Lava Refractor (really Topps?) will be a serious card (with a stupid name). I think it's probably fair to say this was my best hit of the box. (Or maybe the Painter redemption?) Allen was off to a great start in the Arizona Complex League, playing in 19 games, hitting a cool .328 / .440 / .557, with 3 home runs and 14 stolen bases. He drew 8 walks and struck out only 12 times in 75 plate appearances. Keep up the progress on your path to making it so I never have to work again!
And he didn't even autograph with a star!
Something I've noticed is almost all of the first round picks in 2021 Bowman Draft, got off to really good starts with their Major League teams. Don’t know if that happened in the last few years.
#31 - Miami Marlins (Competitive Balance Round A): Joe Mack, C, Williamsville East High School (NY)
Unfortunately, that wasn't the case with Joe Mack. In 19 games of Florida Complex League baseball, Mack hit only .132 / .373 / .208, with 1 HR. He drew 20 walks, which is notable, but he also struck out 22 times in 75 plate appearances. And that's not as encouraging.
Mack (left) and his close friend, Chase Petty (right), were very animated and attention grabbing characters during MLB Network's coverage of the 2021 Draft. We'll have to talk more about Chase Petty in a little while. Who sure looks a lot like a young EC3 here...
#33 - Milwaukee Brewers (CBR-A): Tyler Black, 2B, Wright State University
One of the two extra Jumbo packs of 2021 Bowman Draft had an autograph, making my box break appear greater. Black got off to a decent, but unspectacular start in Low A. Over 26 games, Black hit .241 / .426 / .322, with 1 home run. He drew an excellent 26 walks, but struck out a decidedly unexcellent 31 times in 115 plate appearances. Not terrible numbers, he could easily rebound in 2022. And I hope he does, since I have his lazy scribble.
Let's look at another 2021 X-Mess gift!
Laura got me Bud Selig's autobiography as a gag gift. She told me that she paid a whopping 99 cents for it, and I told her she got ripped off. I haven't read any of it yet, but looking at the table of contents, there are more than a few chapters that I think are going to be fascinating!
Chapter 2: How I Killed the Seattle Pilots When No One Was Looking
Chapter 4: Used Cars, Cheap Hair Cuts and Bad Hot Dogs
Chapter 5: Being Commissioner While Owning an MLB Team is NOT a Conflict of Interest
Chapter 7: Turning a Blind Eye to Rampant Steroid Use Until the Government Threatens to Step In
Chapter 9: How I Would've Killed the Minnesota Twins if it Weren't for Those Pesky Local Judges
Chapter 10: Exposing Yourself as Completely Ineffectual at your Hometown All Star Game
Chapter 11: Victory! After 10 Years of Trying, How I Finally Killed the Montreal Expos!
Chapter 14: Continual Blaming of Fans for Small Market Teams Losing Records
Chapter 16: Yeah, I Absolutely Deserved to be Elected to the Hall of Fame
This appears to be a real page turner!
2021 Bowman Chrome Draft Purple Refractor - Jasson Dominguez
Nice hit for as popular as this New York Yankee top prospect is these days, with some of his low serial-numbered autographs selling in the hundreds of thousands. This card is nowhere near that, but still a very nice. Fair to say Dominguez wouldn’t be near as hyped if he were a prospect for the Kansas City Royals. I wonder how much of his propectness may be typical Yankee propaganda?
Signed in 2019, as a 16 year old out of the Dominican Republic, he missed out on the 2020 minor league season, since there wasn't one. As an 18 year old, he played in 7 games in the Florida Complex League, before moving up for 49 games with Low A, Tampa. For the composite 56 games, Dominguez posted a line of .252 / .353 / .379. Only 5 home runs and 9 stolen bases, with 27 walks and 73 strikeouts in 241 plate appearances. Ideally, you'd like to see more walks and less strikeouts, but this is still an 18 year old in Low A. So those numbers aren't poor by any means.
Just not quite $750,000 good...
It's doubtful something from Panini's Elite Extra Edition will be going for $750,000 any time soon.
Maybe this guy has a chance?
2021 Elite Extra Edition Future Threads - Justin Foscue
The Texas Rangers First Round Pick in the 2020 draft, 14th overall. Unfortunately, he got pasted on an almost sickeningly bright orange background, just like Colton Welker. Foscue did well in 2021, in 62 games split between Rookie League, High A and AA, Foscue hit .275 / .371 / .590, with 17 home runs, 25 walks and 72 strikeouts in 267 total plate appearances. He wrapped up the season with a .257 / .416 / .529 line in 19 games of the Arizona Fall League, slugging an additional 5 home runs.
Maybe this card has a chance of going for $7.50 some day?
2021 Elite Extra Edition - Jackson Glenn
Pittsburgh's 5th round pick in the 2021 draft. Batted .340 / .454 / .491, with 0 HR, in 30 games with Low A Bradenton (except 2 games in the Florida Complex League).
2021 Bowman Chrome Draft Refractor - Blaze Jordan
Another hyped prospect who is coincidentally a Boston Red Sock... My dislike for the Boston Red Sox know no bounds, so I'm not enamored with this card. Blaze was a 2020 3rd round pick, who played in 28 games of Rookie League and Low A ball, hitting .324 / .368 / .590, with 6 HR, on 8 walks and 21 strikeouts in 114 plate appearances. So it's not like I'm going to throw it away...
2021 Elite Extra Edition Prime Numbers - Daylen Lile
Washington's 2nd round pick in the 2021 Draft. Lile played in 19 Florida Coast League games after signing. He posted a .219 / .363 / .250 line. No home runs, but the 15 walks and 20 strikeouts in 80 plate appearances are encouraging for an 18 year old. It is a really nice looking card...
2021 Bowman Chrome Draft Autograph - Landon Marceaux
The second autographed hit of the 2021 Bowman Draft Jumbo Box. The Angels 2021 3rd round draft pick out of LSU, made 2 starts in the Arizona Complex League. Posting an 0-1 record with a 14.73 ERA. Of course that was over only 3.2 innings, where he gave up 7 hits, but didn't walk anyone and struck out 6.
2021 Bowman Draft - Max Meyer
Miami's 1st Round Pick in the 2020 Draft, 3rd overall, put up a very strong 2021 season, split between AA and AAA. The Minnesota native went 6-4 with a 2.27 ERA in 111 innings pitched (10 innings at AAA). He gave up only 90 hits, but walked a pretty high 42 batters. He also struck out a pretty impressive 130 hitters. I was really hoping the Marlins would trade Meyer to the Twins for some of our catching surplus, but it doesn't appear like that will be the case.
2021 Bowman Chrome Draft Green Refractor - Luke Murphy
2021 Elite Extra Edition Status - Luke Murphy
Both products offered serial numbered green parallels of the Angels 2021 4th round pick. Weaver pitched 9 innings, giving up 7 hits, with 1 walk and 15 strikeouts, at High A Tri-City.
2021 Bowman Draft - Doug Nikhazy
Cleveland's 2nd Round pick in the 2021 Draft didn't appear in any professional games, after signing. The soft-tossing college lefty projects as a back of the rotation starter or relief pitcher.
2021 Elite Extra Edition - Shane Panzini
The Royals 4th Round pick in the 2021 Draft also didn't play in any professional games after signing. Panzini took an above slot deal to forgo college, so he was one of the reasons Kansas went with Mozzicato at number 7.
2021 Elite Extra Edition - Chad Patrick
Patrick went to the D-Bags in the 4th Round of the 2021 Draft, then pitched in 5.2 innings at Low A Visalia. Something was out of whack as he gave up 11 hits in his 2 appearances. Only 1 walk, so maybe Patrick will pitch better next season?
2021 Elite Extra Edition is telling me to look for the Exclusive Dominican Prospect League Autographs.
So I looked and found one!
2021 Elite Extra Edition - Javier Pena
Pena just signed with the Dodgers a few days ago, as part of the International Signing Period. He wasn't one of the top prospects, but it's good to know I can assign a team to Pena in my boxes of Top Loaders.
2021 Elite Extra Edition Hidden Gems - Jose Pena
Philadelphia may have a hidden gem, with emphasis on the hidden. A 2021 6th Round Draft Pick, went 1-0 13.50, over 2.2 innings, with 3 hits and 3 walks, against 5 strikeouts. This gem is going to need a lot of polishing first...
2021 Bowman Chrome Draft SP Photo Variant - Pedro Pineda
I'm glad that Topps put these in packs upside-down, so you're at least alerted that there's something different about this particular card. Pineda was signed out of the Dominican Republic, in January 2021, as a 17 year old. Splitting 33 games with the Dominican Summer League and the Arizona Complex League, Pineda hit .237 / .368 / .361, with 1 home run and 6 stolen bases. He drew 18 walks, but struck out in 41 of his 117 plate appearances. Again, he played most of the year as a 17 year old. He's a ways away from playing center field in Oakland.
But will the A's still be in Oakland by the time Pineda sees the Major Leagues?
2021 Bowman Draft Purple - Adley Rutschman
Unless the lockout wipes out the season, Adley Rutschman will certainly make his Major League Debut in 2022. The 1st overall pick in the 2019 draft, Rutschman played in 123 games (80 at AA, 43 at AAA), posting a composite line of .285 / .397 / .502, with 23 home runs. His plate discipline is pretty good already, he drew 79 walks and only struck out 90 times in 543 plate appearances. Wont be long before he’s an All Star.
2021 Bowman Draft Orange - Jose Torres
24/25, and that's pretty cool, even if it's also orange. I guess the Cincinnati Reds are key players in this box. The college shortstop was the Reds 3rd round pick in 2021, and played 28 games, most of which were in Low-A. His line of .333 / .387 / .590 was pretty strong. Adding in 5 home runs and 7 stolen bases, with 10 walks against 19 strikeouts in 119 plate appearances. Torres will be 23 on Opening Day 2022 (if it happens before late September), so he may not be far away. The Reds definitely need a shortstop.
2021 Bowman Chrome Draft Yellow Lava Refractor - T.J. White
This card was in the first pack of 2021 Bowman Draft I opened, and it is absolutely stunning to look at in person. Washington's 5th round pick out of a South Carolina high school, played in 15 games at the Florida Complex League, batting .283 / .356 / .547. The 4 home runs are promising, though I'd like to see more than 5 walks and less than 14 strikeouts in 59 plate appearances. Since this card is so awesome, I will definitely be rooting for White's success.
2021 Elite Extra Edition - Donta Williams
2021 4th round pick by the Orioles, Williams played in 27 games, most were at Low-A, this year. Between Low-A and the Florida Complex League, he hit .291 / .441 / .360. The former University of Arizona outfielder did not hit a home run, but stole five bases, and walked an impressive 23 times in 111 plate appearances. Against only 17 strikeouts... He could quickly find a role in Baltimore.
2021 Bowman Draft - Bobby Witt Jr.
The 2nd overall pick in the 2019 Draft, Witt is likely to become a Royal this season. Splitting 123 games almost evenly between AA and AAA, Witt hit .290 / .361 / .575, with 33 home runs and 29 stolen bases in 2021. Taking 51 walks while striking out in 131 of 564 plate appearances. From the looks of those numbers, I'd say he's ready to help the Royals finish above the Twins in 2022.
2021 Bowman Inception Gold - Luis Rodriguez
This was the second Bowman Inception card that my mom gave me for X-Mess. And again I can make no complaints about it. Rodriguez is one of the hottest prospects in baseball, even if the statistics don't quite match up... I suspect a little bit of Dodger prospect overhype. Nowhere near Dominguez and the Yankee machine, but a factor nonetheless...
The 19 year old from Venezuela wasn't overly impressive in 54 games in the Arizona Complex League Rodriguez batted only .216 / .326 / .367, in 236 trips to the plate. He did hit 8 home runs, but only took 27 walks and struck out a lofty 73 times. Still very young, there's a lot of room for improvement. But people are still paying a lot for his cards...
Let's move onto something else, so we don't all suffer from prospect burnout.
How about one of the funnest rips of 2021?
My mom also got me a box of 2021 Topps Archives for X-Mess. I'd been so busy with life that I didn't get around to breaking it until New Years Day, fresh off prospecting. I'd been debating putting the base set together, since Archives is always fun to look at. By the time I finished opening this box, I decided to put the base set together. And I already had all of it.
2021 Topps Archives - Pedro Martinez
As long as they’re going to throw me a few Expos cards every year, I’m in…
2021 Topps Archives Movie Poster Card - Blake Street Bombers
This year’s edition of Archives included an insert set of baseball themed “movie posters”. Each box comes with a full sized miniature poster, with card sized versions randomly placed in packs. One of which honored the mid-1990’s Colorado Rockies, and that’s pretty cool.
2021 Topps Archives Fan Favorites Autographs - John Flaherty
My first hit from the box was an autographed long time backup catcher for the Tigers, Padres, Devil Rays and Yankees. He is pictured with the Yankees, but never played in more than 47 games in a season with them. But everyone loves the Yankees! If you asked me, this card should have pictured Flaherty in the dark green of the early 2000’s Devil Rays. He was there for five seasons (1998-2002), and played in twice as many games as he did for any other team.
But no one collected the Devil Rays...
2021 Topps Archives Orange Hot Foil - Tristan McKenzie
Rookie card of a starting pitcher with a bright future, serial numbered out of 15? Hell yeah! The walks were a little high this year, but he kept the hits down and struck out more than 1 batter per inning. He was only 23... Put him on a team I like and I’m an instant McKenzie collector. Either way, this is a keeper!
2021 Topps Archives Fan Favorites Autographs - Orlando Cepeda
Many of the autographs in Archives are of the John Flaherty variety. Players that were not necessarily superstars, but ones that were “Fan Favorites”. So when you pull an autograph of an absolute Hall of Fame legend, it stands out. Cepeda is in his mid-80’s now, and that shaky signature shows his age. But I love it. Doesn’t even matter to me that Cepeda is a Giant. (Couldn’t Topps’ have paid tribute to his three plate appearances with the 1972 Oakland Athletics?)
Easily one of my favorite card pulls of 2022!
2021 Topps Archives SP Photo Variation - Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
But my second favorite card came from the last pack in the box. The short print variation of Vladimir Guerrero Jr., shows his father (as an Expo!) for the head shot. I’d seen this card online and wanted it ever since, but getting it from a pack was a nice bonus.
Now I don’t have to look for it!
When news broke last fall of Fanatics taking over the licenses for MLB, NFL and NBA trading cards, everyone wondered what would happen. If Fanatics was going to start everything over from scratch, all of the history and tradition of Topps would be gone. Fanatics couldn't produce a set like Archives, since it wouldn't have any lineage before 2024 (or whatever year this was to take effect). All of the base set designs, dating back to 1951, wouldn't be a part of baseball cards anymore. Sure, Fanatics could (and likely would) make their own version of Bowman (and Bowman Draft), but it wouldn't be the same.
I'm pretty sure everyone assumed that Fanatics would just buy Topps. Without the MLB license, Topps can't produce baseball cards. The MLB Players Union joined with MLB to make the Fanatics deal happen, so that eliminated Panini from producing cards as well. But Fanatics needs the intellectual property to make their takeover of trading cards legitimate. So they just bought Topps. (Well, just the trading card division, Topps kept their other lines.)
There's a whole lot more to this story than my overly-simplified summary. But we can be pretty much assume that we'll still be ripping packs of 2025 Topps Archives in three and a half years. (If the lockout is over by then...) Not 2025 Fanatics Archives with "Retro Inspired Designs".
At least they'd have logos...
Let's finish up 2021 Bowman Draft coverage with the Minnesota Twins. My second most important point in buying the product, after the hits. These would be the first cards of new Twins draft picks and prospects for my binder, and I was anxious to see what they looked like.
2021 Bowman Chrome Draft Bowman Draft Night - Chase Petty
Joe Mack's friend, Chase Petty, was drafted a few picks before him, by Minnesota. Since he was attending the draft in person, he was able to try on his new uniform and get interviewed live. It also meant Topps was able to produce a really nice looking insert card to commemorate that night. I'm really glad this was in the box I bought. Wouldn't have wanted to try to find one on my own.
2021 Bowman Draft - Chase Petty
Taken 26th overall in the first round, Chase Petty, was a flame throwing high school pitcher out of New Jersey. There's video on YouTube of Petty throwing 102 mph fastballs. Whether that translates into professional success is something the Twins will figure out over the next few seasons. When you don't get your first pick until late in the first round, the sure things are long gone. You're making an informed gamble at that point, so it makes sense to go for the high risk / high reward type player.
Despite the high velocity, Petty doesn't have the large and sturdy frame that would suggest long term durability. There were already questions about difficulty in maintaining his delivery, and if the stress on his shoulder and elbow will cause a breakdown over time. But the Twins wouldn't have made this pick if they didn't feel this was a project they could get something out of. While I'd love to see Petty become a dependable part of Minnesota's starting rotation in five years, it may be more realistic to see Petty as a possible closer.
He did make 2 appearances in the Florida Complex League, pitching 5 innings, giving up 6 hits and 3 earned runs off 1 walk and 6 strikeouts. Not the greatest debut, yet not the worst. Only walking 1 is very encouraging, since control is usually a big problem with young pitchers who throw this hard. I'll be very interested to see how Petty does in 2022. I'll be rooting for him, because if he fulfills his potential the Twins will have a good building block for their pitching staff. The odds aren't in his favor, but the high level of talent is absolutely there.
2021 Bowman Draft - Noah Miller
The Twins bonus pick in Competitive Balance Round A, 36th overall. Miller, a shortstop from Wisconsin, is the younger brother of Cleveland prospect, Owen Miller. Also a shortstop. Minnesota is very high on Miller, and got him into 22 games in the Florida Complex League. Miller batted .238 / .316 / .369, with 2 home runs, with 9 walks and 26 strikeouts over 96 plate appearances. Kinda meh...
2021 Bowman Draft - Steve Hajjar
Minnesota’s second round pick 2nd (61st overall) was a left-handed pitcher from the University of Michigan. Hajjar isn’t overpowering, throwing in the low 90’s, but has an advanced changeup. Which could serve him well to remain a starter in the future. He did not play in any games after signing with Minnesota.
2021 Bowman Draft - Cade Povich
Sticking with left-handed college pitching for their third round pick, Minnesota took Povich 98th overall. After signing with the Twins, Povich pitched 2 innings of rookie ball, then moved up to throw 8 innings at Low-A. In 10 total innings, he gave up 7 hits and 1 run, off 2 walks and an eye opening 19 strikeouts. He’s one to watch…
2021 Bowman Draft - Christian Encarnacion-Strand
The Twins 4th Round pick (128th overall) was a college third baseman from Oklahoma State. Although running and defensive issues will likely move him to first base/DH in the future, he has some decent offensive potential. Which makes him even more valuable if he can stick at third base. After signing, the Twins placed him directly into Low-A ball, where he held his own. In 22 games, he batted .391 / .424 / .598, with 4 home runs. He may be a little too all-or-nothing, as he only drew 5 walks and struck out 26 times out of 92 plate appearances.
In addition to making cards of the first five Minnesota draft picks, Topps threw in an additional 4 prospects for a total of 9 base cards of new Twins. (The Rockies had 8.) Of them, my most anticipated card was...
2021 Bowman Draft - Austin Martin
First appearance in a Photoshopped Twins uniform for the 5th overall pick in the 2020 draft. Martin was the key return in the Jose Berrios trade, and went directly to AA Wichita after reporting to the Twins organization. That's not really a shocker, he was in AA New Hampshire with Toronto. The 2021 season was Martin's first in professional ball, and he showed a lot of potential. In 93 AA games, Martin hit .270 / .414 / .382. He only hit 5 home runs, but stole 14 bases. Martin drew 60 walks in 418 total plate appearances, while striking out only 83 times.
None of these are blow-away numbers, but still promising for a 22 year old, breaking in his first professional season at the AA level. There is a lot of room for growth in his game. He is very much the type of player the Twins need. So PLEASE don't flip him for some marginal mid-rotation pitcher this offseason.
2021 Bowman Draft - Emmanuel Rodriguez
Signed as a 16 year old amateur free agent out of the Dominican Republic, in July 2019. Now 18, he got his first experience in 37 games at the Florida Complex League. He hit .214 / .346 / .524, with 10 home runs and 9 stolen bases. In 153 rookie ball plate appearances, he drew an encouraging 23 walks, but struck out a discouraging 56 times.
2021 Bowman Draft - Aaron Sabato
Minnesota's first round pick in the 2020 draft (27th overall). I felt this pick was kind of a head scratcher last year, and I'm still questioning it after seeing Sabato's first pro year. He played in 85 games at Low A Ft. Myers, and posted a pretty abysmal .189 / .365 / .357 line. (Although 11 home runs and 73 walks in 367 plate appearances show that he's not hopeless.)
Sabato was promoted to High A Cedar Rapids for 22 games to finish up the 2021 season. Strangely, his numbers improved greatly at a higher level. In 97 plate appearances at High A, he batted .253 / .402 / .613, with 8 home runs and another 19 walks. He'll still be only 22 on Opening Day 2022 (as long as that happens before June 4), so there's a good chance Sabato shows those Low A numbers were just an aberration. I'd like to see what he does with a full season at AA Wichita.
2021 Bowman Draft - Misael Urbina
No relation to the Expos Ugueth... Urbina signed with the Twins as an International Free Agent out of Venezuela, in 2019. He played 50 games in the Dominican Summer League as a 17 year old in 2019. For the 2021 season, he appeared in 101 games at Low-A Ft. Myers. His line of .191 / .299 / .286, with 5 home runs and 16 stolen bases wasn't overly impressive, but he drew 54 walks against 82 strikeouts in 439 plate appearances, so it looks like there's something there to build off.
A bunch of new Twins (and Rockies) prospects to add to the team binders, combined with a good representation of Chrome parallels, inserts, autographs and other stuff that Bowman Draft has to offer. Because this kind of thing is still important to me, I was able to complete the full base set of 2021 Bowman Draft. While I didn't get anything that made me want to instantly brag to the internet or card store, my Jumbo box and ancillary packs were nowhere near disappointing.
Another of the missions I wanted to accomplish that day, was a second round of searching the Pal's boxes of Twins commons. I've been working on adding to the Twins albums lately, and needed to add in some new old pre and post Junk Wax Era singles that have so far eluded me. In addition to a big buncha 1982 Donruss, Fleer and Topps Expos cards, there's a near full team set of 1987 Donruss Opening Day and some 1988 Kenner Starting Lineup cards that I didn't have before! Working from memory, I knew I'd end up buying a bunch of duplicates, and that's fine. They just just go in the sleeved card boxes with the other duplicates worth saving.
Now if I only had the time to finish organizing all of them…
1954 Topps Wayne Terwilliger
I figured the best way to wrap the story about the most prospecty of prospects would be to show the oldest card I've bought in a while. Terwilliger was a longtime baseball presence, playing parts of 9 seasons in the Major Leagues, between 1949 and 1960, with the Cubs, Dodgers, Senators, Giants and Athletics. After retiring as a player, he coached with the Senators/Rangers organization until 1985, then went on to Minnesota, as the first base coach for the Twins until 1994. He then coached first base for the independent St. Paul Saints from 1995-2002, managed the Fort Worth Cats from 2003-2005, and coached at first base for the Cats until 2010, before retiring at 85 years old. Terwilliger passed away on February 3, 2021. He was 95.
I’d been eyeing this card for a few visits. It had a $20 price tag on it, and was in pretty good shape for an ungraded 1954 Topps. I finally pulled the trigger on the purchase today, as a counterbalance to all the young rookies and prospects. The big question this card brings to mind is in 65+ years, are any of these draft prospects going to command more than a $20 bill?
Either way, I'm already looking forward to 2022 Bowman Draft Day.
Both the Twins and Rockies will have top ten picks!
On a sad note, Brian Barker, the owner of Pal's Sports Cards, passed away on December 9, 2021.
On Saturday January 15th, 2022, Brian's Celebration of Life was held in the Maple Room, in the Activities Center at Bunker Hills.
My mom and I both went, as she's almost as frequent a customer of Pal's as I've been over the last few years.
Just inside the doors, there were several stacks of Brian's 1987 Topps rookie card, free for the taking! Hadn't seen these before. I know if I was him, there would always be at least one of these cards in every display case!
The copyright date is 2016, and the graphic states he was drafted in 1957. Which means the years played are actually less than 64... That would make this an even more rare error version!
Someone out there has to have the autographed parallel!
There was a good turn out for Brian that afternoon. We were told to wear our jerseys, and I saw a few Kirby Puckett's and a good amount of Minnesota Wild. I was bummed out that no one else was representing Montreal... At least a couple hundred of Brian's friends, family and customers of Pal's, showed up during the 2 hour event. While somber, there was an upbeat mood to the room. Everywhere you went, you'd hear people telling stories of his life and his card store.
Multiple stations were set up around the auditorium, with photos and artifacts of Brian. Each table had a small flower arrangement with baseball cards sticking out.
A small part of his baseball collection was on display as well, including a Twins bat with over 50 signatures of alumni from all eras. Including every Hall of Famer to suit up for Minnesota.
Brian told me a story about this piece a few years ago. I had mentioned that I was trying to find cards with pictures taken at Metropolitan Stadium, from the early days of the Twins. Or anything leading up to it's 1985 demolition. We started talking about Met Stadium (which I was too young to have any memories of) and he mentioned that he had been given a photo of 5 Twins from Opening Day of the 1961 season, their first in Minnesota. He was able to recognize Bob Allison, Zoilo Versalles, Harmon Killebrew and Jim Lemon in the picture, but couldn't place the guy in the middle. For years he wasn't able to figure out who that player was.
Eventually, he was able to show the photo to Harmon Killebrew, and asked him who he was standing next to. Harmon looked at the picture and told Brian the mystery player was Reno Bertoia. A third baseman the Twins traded to the Kansas City Athletics on June 1, 1961, less than two months after this picture was taken. Killebrew said Bertoia was a great kid who could really play, but injuries ruined his career, shortly after the trade.
In 2010, I used the Topps Million Card Giveaway promotion (that will be a story someday, it's probably my favorite promotion Topps ever ran) to trade for the 1961 Topps Reno Bertoia card. It was one of only a handful of 1961 Topps cards to actually show the featured player in a Twins uniform. Most of the players appear capless, or in airbrushed uniforms of the Washington Senators, since the team played as them in 1960.
Brian said this was his favorite Twins picture, as it's not one of the more common photos of that era. Having Harmon Killebrew himself solve the long time mystery as he wrote out his classic signature at the bottom made it even more special. It was one of the prize pieces in his collection, and I thought it was really cool that I finally got to see it today. Wish it had been under better circumstances, but I remembered him telling me the story as soon as I saw it.
Next to that framed picture was a beautiful Mickey Mantle autographed baseball.
And a photo of Brian holding the holy grail of baseball cards, a T206 Honus Wagner, from an industry trade show, a few years back.
Projectors at both ends of the auditorium ran a slideshow of pictures from Brian's life. Including several photos of Pal's, which opened in the Summer of 2010.
And a 1964 photo of a young Brian and his family, outside of Metropolitan Stadium, for a Twins game. A place I only knew of through pictures, whereas he'd attended many games there, and would tell stories when I was looking for older Twins cards.
Card shops (or any store dedicated to a specific hobby) become more than just a retailer. When you find a good one, it's like you're dropping in on family and close friends. You tend to stay for a longer time beyond what would normally be required, just to talk about your shared interest. Because the people you see there become your friends. And it's hard knowing that the guy I saw several times a month for years, and would pump up new releases and look for stuff he knew I'd be interested in buying, isn't going to be there when I go to his store.
And that's life.
And it's cruel.
And unfair at times.
Makes you stop and value the memories you do have, even if they seem insignificant as they're happening.
Gonna miss you, Brian!