2021 Bowman marks the official opening of prospect season. Bowman 1st Edition teased the hobby with a limited release one month ago but now collectors can finally dive into a full checklist of top prospects. The opening Bowman checklist of the season is a fairly strong one. The 72 player Chrome Prospect Autograph checklist features several young players making their 1st Bowman debut. I’ve picked out five of the top players that I believe collectors will be going after. The headliners won’t surprise anyone who collects but some other inclusions and honorable mentions may spur discussions. I’ve also made predictions as to the initial values of the first Bowman Chrome autos will be. These predictions are based on my best guess though.
For more accurate and real-time information, be sure to follow @MJRSportscards on Twitter. Now, let’s begin.
- Ji-hwan Bae – Pittsburgh Pirates
- Brayan Buelvas – Oakland Athletics
- Alexander Vargas – New York Yankees
- Jeremy De La Rosa – Washington Nationals
- Johan Rojas – Philadelphia Phillies
- Maximo Acosta – Texas Rangers
- Alexander Ramirez – Los Angeles Angels
- Gabriel Arias – Cleveland
- Coby Mayo – Baltimore Orioles
- Jairo Pomares – San Francisco Giants
Austin Martin – Toronto Blue Jays
Martin is the biggest name on this year’s Bowman checklist and for good reason. His three years at Vanderbilt the SS/OF accumulated a career slash line of .386/.474/.532 and led the Commodores to a national championship in 2019. Martin’s name was even thrown around as the top pick in the lead-up to the 2020 Draft. He ended up sliding to the Blue Jays at number five, where he immediately became the team’s top prospect.
Martin’s exclusion from 2020 Bowman Draft left collectors hoping to see the All-American early in 2021. The delayed-release saved many collector’s wallets by not having to chase Martin and Torkelson in the same set. It also made Martin the undeniable chase card for the first Bowman release of the year. Until now, the 2019 SEC leader in OBP was the highest-rated prospect without a 1st Bowman Chrome autograph. That means collectors that have been waiting since last summer will be willing to pay big money for Martin ahead of his anticipated 2022 Major League debut. If Spencer Torkelson, another 2020 top draft pick, can be used for comparison, expect early sales of Martin’s base auto to sell in the $500-$600 range.
Blaze Jordan – Boston Red Sox
Jordan first made a name for himself by mashing home runs at an age when most kids are more concerned about the postgame snack. He won his first national home run derby at age 11, blasted a pair of 500-foot bombs at age 13, and won the National High School Home Run Derby in 2019. Jordan was one of the top high school hitters in the 2021 class but reclassified in May 2019. As a result, Jordan was one of the youngest players in the 2020 draft. The Red Sox selected the hard-hitting YouTube sensation in the third round of the 2020 draft and Jordan decided to forgo his Mississippi State commitment to sign with the team. He is currently Boston’s #14 prospect but his advancement will depend on his defensive improvements and his bat catching up to more advanced competition.
The hobby has been waiting for Jordan’s first Bowman Chrome auto since before he was in high school thanks to the magic of YouTube. Videos of his tape-measure blasts garnered millions of views well before he was drafted. His raw power is exciting but collectors should proceed cautiously. Jordan still has a lot to work on before he’ll be big-league ready. Collectors don’t seem afraid of the wait though. His Bowman 1st Edition autograph #/50 sold earlier this month for $1,330 on eBay. There is no direct translation from serial-numbered to base cards but I would predict a range of $200-$300 upon release.
Aaron Sabato – Minnesota Twins
Sabato went undrafted out of high school but proved his worth to Major League scouts during his two seasons at North Carolina. During his first season in 2019 the 1B/DH set a Tar Heel freshman record by smashing 18 home runs. During the abbreviated 2020 season, Sabato followed up his record-setting freshman campaign by clobbering seven homers in nineteen games and posting a .708 slugging percentage. Sabato’s power led the Twins to select him with the 27th overall pick in the 2020 Draft and is currently the team’s number six prospect.
Sabato may prove to be a more under-the-radar card in the hobby thanks to this position’s uncertainty While his raw power and hitting ability stand out amongst Minnesota prospects, his below-average defense may limit him to DH. As much as the hobby loves home run hitters, collectors are generally less enthusiastic about designated hitters. The Twins aren’t expected to call Sabato up until late 2022/2023 so there is time for his glove to develop. If that happens Sabato’s cards could have a similar trajectory to Andrew Vaughn’s. As it stands now though, there have been two eBay sales of Sabato’s Bowman 1st Edition autos #/50 for $587 and $525, respectively. It’s difficult to extrapolate numbered card sales to base sales, but I believe a $100-$150 range should be expected for Sabato’s first base Bowman Chrome auto.
Hedbert Perez – Milwaukee Brewers
The 18-year-old Venezuelan has yet to appear in any professional games but evaluators across the board are excited about Perez’s potential. Before signing with Milwaukee in 2019 Perez trained with his father, Robert Pérez, who played six major league seasons. That training produced a five-tool player with above-average hit and power tools. The Brewers’ farm system wasn’t very strong in 2020 but once Perez starts playing he will surely prove to be a valuable piece. He’s considered the organization’s number two prospect right now and expected to advance quickly.
In prospect collecting it can be difficult to determine how early is too early sometimes. Perez will not make that determination any easier for collectors. Scouts and evaluators rave about his talent and potential and it appears he will be the Brewers’ top prospect before long. However, the lefty turned 18 earlier this month and isn’t expected to crack a major league roster until around 2025. That’s a long time to hold a card. That doesn’t mean there won’t be a market for Perez though. Many of the top prospect cards from 2020 featured players below 20 years old. Perez’s pedigree and talent are reason enough to be optimistic. It won’t be long before he starts appearing on top 100 lists. His initial card market will probably be closer to that of Robert Pauson than Jasson Dominguez though. A range of $150-$200 is likely upon release.
Kevin Alcantara – New York Yankees
Alcantara has progressed better than the Yankees could have hoped for since signing him as the #15 international prospect in 2018. During his time in the system, the OF has cut back on big movements in his swing which has helped him control the zone better. He has also added 20 pounds to his 6’6″ frame without sacrificing speed. He’s a natural fit at his current CF position but could be moved to RF as he continues to develop. No matter where he ends up though, he’s likely to bring power and average to the Yanks lineup. He is currently ranked as the Yankees’ number seven prospect but could move up quickly with a strong 2021 showing.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one: The New York Yankees have a young international OF prospect that’s supposed to be the most exciting thing in baseball since Abner Doubleday organized a game at Elysian Fields. Alcantara might not be as hyped as his future teammate Jasson Dominguez, but anytime a young prospect debuts in pinstripes the hobby usually goes wild. There will be a strong market for Alcantara’s first Bowman Chrome auto. If the Dominican is able to continue his development at the current pace, Alcantara might not just be included in top 100 lists, he could be topping them. Collectors are ready to buy into that. It’s difficult to come up with a comparison for Alcantara though. If I had to guess, I would predict a range of $175-$200 for his early card sales.