Mint Musings: The Prospecting Question – When I started doing Mint Condition back in May of 2012, I was startled by a few things in the hobby. One of these was just how prevalent rookies had become in today’s trading card market. While rookies have always been an important part of the hobby, the stakes are certainly higher now. This is due to many factors, including the higher prices of packs and boxes in today’s market.
The hobby, especially baseball, has been blessed with many high-profile rookies in the past few years. Whether it’s Bryce Harper or Mike Trout, there have been several successful young players who have generated high-dollar sales. This year has been no different as Kris Bryant has quickly become one of the hottest players in the baseball market. I was fortunate enough to have Will Sherrer of Prospect Rush on the Bristol campus a few months ago. He had with him a Kris Bryant autographed card that was valued at around $50,000. That’s a staggering figure to be sure, but it’s a sign of just how lucrative prospecting has become in the trading card market.
The question is whether or not this has been good for the hobby. I’ve heard many a collector lament on the fact that people are willing to pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars for players who have barely achieved anything professionally. There’s also been a lot of regret from collectors who have shelled out a small fortune on that hot new prospect, only to be left in despair when the player continually gets injured or never lives up to his expectations.
That being said, rookies and prospects have proven to be part of the hobby’s lifeblood with each passing year. With several product lines being sold or not sold on the strength of a rookie class, it can prove disastrous to companies and card shops alike when there aren’t any solid rookies to market. Any doubters of this need only look back on the 2013 NFL rookie class. It can be difficult to sell a $500 box of trading cards centered around rookies when none of them provide much in the way of immediate value. On the flip side of this, the 2012 NFL products have more than maintained their value, with several of them actually increasing in price due to the successful careers of Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson. As a side note, I wouldn’t sleep on Robert Griffin III just yet. While his future is rather uncertain at this point, I think he has a decent chance to rebound both on the field and in the hobby.
2015 should prove to be an interesting and potentially landmark year from a prospecting front. Football is shaping up to be promising with the likes of Jameis Winston and Amari Cooper. Basketball has several notable rookies coming in the draft. Even the NHL will have a potential superstar coming this year in Connor McDavid. All of these players have drawn considerable interest in hobby circles so far, and it’ll be interesting to see how all of them do once they receive professionally-licensed cards. While we don’t know how the players will turn out, one thing is certain. We’ll be seeing many of the coming rookie autographs and low-numbered cards being swapped for impressive dollar figures.
Kelsey’s ability to bring hobby coverage to the mainstream sports fan as the producer of ESPN’s Mint Condition has been a true asset. GTS is happy to feature his thoughts on the hobby in Mint Musings. The opinions expressed are his and do not necessarily reflect those of GTS Distribution.
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