It seems like prospecting happens earlier than ever in the hobby. Where we once waited for flagship rookie cards, collectors increasingly look to Bowman prospect cards. But what about 2021 MLB Draft Pick Cards? Are they a good investment?
The baseball draft represents the eternal hope in baseball that any season can be turned around no matter how bad. The picks are held in inverse order of the previous year’s standings. This structure means that the worst team gets the highest pick.
The draft is massive; it includes 40 rounds, not including compensatory picks. Therefore, it is far deeper than the NFL draft (seven rounds) and the NBA draft (a mere two rounds).
However, it is the least covered event of the three. One reason is poor marketing by the MLB. But the most important is that it is notoriously difficult to predict which baseball prospects will become big stars.
Baseball is a mental game, requiring a certain level of experience and cognitive maturity. The skills needed for a successful basketball or football career involve obvious traits like speed, height, or brute strength. In baseball, the skillset is more subtle. Therefore, more top picks in baseball are busts than in the other major sports.
With all of the inexactitude of the amateur draft in mind, baseball scouts put a lot of effort and thought into the draft. They have often selected future stars and even Hall-Of-Famers in the first pick.
The draft has taken place annually since 1965. On three separate occasions, four Hall-Of-Famers were selected in the same year. To my mind, the best draft class of all time was 1977 one: it included first-pick Harold Baines, Paul Molitor, legendary shortstop Ozzie Smith, and underrated outfielder Tim Raines.
There have been a few more recent top-notch years. 2010 was a banner year and included multiple players who may end up in Cooperstown. Including Jacob DeGrom, Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Chris Sale, and Christian Yelich.
So while it is hard to predict baseball excellence with any regularity, baseball scouts are good enough to give you some idea of where the prime talent is.
Many of the biggest stars were picked late in the draft. Mike Piazza was a 62nd rounder, Nolan Ryan was taken in the 12th, and Albert Pujols in the 13th. Still, the top picks have a good chance of panning out. Alex Rodriguez and Ken Griffey Jr. were no. 1 picks who lived up to the hype.
So who are the top picks in the draft, and what are their chances of panning out? Again, we have the complete guide. We will also recommend a card for each top pick. Obviously, collectors will be waiting for the Bowman releases. But there are cards for high school and college players as well. Most notably, Leaf releases. So who should you look for when hunting down 2021 MLB Draft Pick Cards?
Davis has long been hailed as an exceptional defensive catcher. His arm is absolutely elite. But most scouts believed he had a lot of work to do on his offense. One of the problems was his weird swing. However, Davis has worked hard to become a patient hitter with a high OBP for Fox Lane High. He also hit a good number of homers in his senior year, primarily by pulling the ball.
Keep in mind, though, that Davis is was not a natural pick for no.1. Scouts believe he is more likely to be a good regular than a genuine superstar.
The most popular card for Davis is his 2017 Leaf Perfect Game card. These autos will hold good value if the catcher pans out. Also, consider getting the numbered variety for some added rarity.
Leiter is the complete package. He has a powerful fastball (reaching 98 MPH), and a first-rate baseball brain inherited directly from his father, ace pitcher Al Leiter. In his one year for the Commodores, the pitcher chalked up a 2.12 ERA. In addition, Leiter showed remarkable control, fanning 127 while only walking 34.
Most scouts see him as more of a reliable no. 2 pitcher than an ace. And, of course, with any pitcher, there are injury worries. Still, I see him as a potential franchise pitcher.
The Leaf Metal Gold is a numbered on-card auto of the young pitcher. It is a bit on the pricy side, but worth it if you believe in Leiter’s talent.
Jackson has four good pitches. That is a remarkable repertoire, considering he played as a shortstop a couple of years ago before moving to the mound. His fastball is solid but unremarkable. However, Jobe has a slider far ahead of his age group and already looks like a major league pitch. Like any pitching prospect, Jackson is a risk for heavy investment. However, he has one of the highest upsides in the 2001 draft.
The Leaf Perfect Game patch cards are currently the most valuable Jobe cards. However, their prices are pretty reasonable.
Mayer is the no. 1 prospect in the 2021 draft to a lot of scouts and teams. It is easy to see why. He is a disciplined hitter who hits well for contact. Marcelo’s power is currently limited, but it is believed that it will come in the next few years. Mayer is also the best defensive shortstop of his year. It is not hard to imagine him as a perennial All-Star.
I have a weakness for team USA cards, and Marcelo has a few doozies. There are several Panini Stars and Stripes patch or memorabilia autos worth a look. They are getting good prices on eBay.
Generally considered the best natural hitter in the draft, Cowser has put up a nice .354/.460/.608 line at Sam Houston State. Colton’s performances for Team USA made it abundantly clear that he can hit against high-caliber opposition.
Though an almost sure thing as a future MLB starter, it is not clear that he has the tools to be a star. Cowser may end up with above-average power, but nothing remarkable. His defense is average. Therefore, this is a classic high floor and low ceiling player.
This was an easy pick. Cowser’s Panini Prizm Draft Picks gold is a beautiful auto. If Cowser pans out, it is very likely to be the early cornerstone of his PSA registry sets.
Jordan was the highest-rated Baseball America prospect in the draft. He is undoubtedly one of the most well-rounded players and one of the few who are equally excellent defensively and offensively. While certainly an excellent contact hitter, with over .400 every season for Dallas Jesuit, it is unclear if his power will develop into a top-tier tool. Lawlar has a very high ceiling and probably should have gone earlier in the draft.
The Panini Stars and Stripes Patch Auto is an excellent deal at under $200.
Frank was on scouts radar, but what put him over the top was a series of four no-hit starts. Mozzicato is only 18, so his 93 MPH fastball is pretty darn impressive. But his curveball is what really puts the southpaw ahead of the pack. Frank doesn’t have ideal command or control, but for an 18-year-old, that is to be expected. There is a lot to like here and no serious weaknesses.
Frank does not have any cards because of his very young age. That should help generate excitement for his Bowman 1sts.
Benny has the best raw offensive tools in the draft. Between his power and speed, there is enormous upside for the talented outfielder. However, he has a fairly poor swing, and his timing is subpar. Montgomery could be an All-Star or a complete bust. It is tough to say.
Benny has some very attractive 2020 Leaf National Showcase autos worth considering. They are a series of 1/1, and sure to maintain value of the outfielder puts his impressive tools to good use.
Bachman has a blistering fastball, which already sits in the 95-97 MPH range. His slider is also outstanding. So what is the downside? Durability concerns. Sam has a strained delivery and is already missing starts due to injury. Many scouts believe he will end up as an effective reliever rather than a starter. However, no one would be shocked if he blossomed into a dominant starter with his stuff either.
No cards yet. Also, a sign that Sam has not made the impact that a pitcher with this level of stuff should make.
Rocker is a proven starter who performed remarkably well for Vanderbilt with a 2.73 ERA and a stunning strikeout out to walk ratio of 179 to 39. So why didn’t Kumar go higher? His velocity has been inconsistent, sometimes falling into the high 80s rather than the mid-90s he hits at his best. So, while there is little doubt he has MLB stuff, it is hard to say how well Rocker will perform in the long-term.
The 2017 Panini Contenders card has a lovely ticket-like format and an attractive on-card auto. It has a good chance of holding value.
With no clear top-of-the-line prospect in the draft, we went with a player with immense potential and a relatively low buy-in. Benny Montgomery has the toolkit to be a Hall-Of-Famer. He also has plenty of years to work on his swing. So many of the top prospects here are pitchers, and they are always risky investment propositions.
Plus, the 2020 Leaf National Showcase autos are gorgeous cards.
There is no Wander Franco-type prospect in this year’s draft. There is also no indication that these early career cards hold value even if the players do pan out. Therefore, these cards are not the best investments out there. Consider investing only if you are very sure about one of these prospects or want to start collecting one of the players.