The state of Major League Baseball is as strong as recent memory. The MLB leaderboards have been littered with twenty-somethings posting gaudy numbers at such an early age. Rookie of the Year and MVP are becoming almost synonymous is some respects. Kids fresh off the draft boards are rising through the ranks after a year or two in the Minor Leagues. Pitchers are hitting triple digits routinely on the radar gun and these young batters are turning on those fastballs are knocking out of the park. Truly a special era for America’s Pastime.
With so many bright stars joining the MLB ranks, which players are the best for collectors to target? Which young stars are already priced too high based on hype? This Sports Collectibles exclusive post will answer all questions regarding the cream of the MLB crop.
No Ceiling – Collector’s Choice
Francisco Lindor – The next great MLB shortstop is on our hands. Lindor’s smooth fielding, contacts hitting, base running and charisma have been on full display in his young, successful career. The word “Cleveland” across his chest is the only reason he is not getting the press other young players have gotten. In baseball circles, Lindor is one of the most exciting players in the game. Worth the price of admission. Lindor has the glove like Omar Vizquel and can hit like Derek Jeter. The total package for a shortstop. His prices are beyond reasonable at this time. Worth the investment.
Nolan Arenado – Sure, the thin Rocky Mountain air helps batters in Coors Field. But there is no home field advantage for Nolan Arenado’s fielding. Arenado’s acrobatic, incredible glove and arm have earned him consecutive Gold Glove awards in his first two seasons. The power and the fielding are going to be there for the long haul. Arenado seems destined to bring Colorado their first MVP since Larry Walker in 1997. If Arenado played in a larger market, he would be parallel to the likes of Harper, Trout and Bryant. Sustainable future, good price.
Xander Bogaerts – The X Man leads a young core of Red Sox into 2016 and beyond. Bogaerts is a hitting machine. If we loved Nomar’s early career offense, Xander has that and more. Bogaerts is a sure bet to become Boston’s star after the retirement of David Ortiz. Bogaerts stars on the infield and plays in a major baseball market. He has already won a World Series and will have many midsummer classics in his future. An easy choice for a great Red Sox career. Fan favorite.
Manny Machado – i.e. Cal Ripken Jr, Brooks Robinson. Machado’s shows off all five tools on a nightly basis at Camden Yards. Orioles fans have been spoiled with shortstops and third basemen for decades now. Machado appears to be every bit as talented as his predecessors. Machado’s silky fielding paired with MVP caliber batting will allow him to enjoy a successful career. Machado may very well be the best player in the game today. No reason to think he will not be the best tomorrow either. A sure bet. A transcendent talent.
Star Ceiling – Popularity Kings
Kris Bryant – The Cubs are the toast of the league and nobody is more responsible for that then 2015 Rookie of the Year, Kris Bryant. Bryant’s talent, demeanor and hope he has given fans is unmatched in the MLB. Bryant is as about of a sure thing as there can be. Collectors are also aware. His prices have eclipsed his fellow young stars. Bryant is approaching Trout level as far as pricing goes. A great player, projectable success but there is just too much out there.
Noah Syndergaard – The perfect fastball. The perfect nickname. Noah “Thor” Syndergaard has the look of a Cy Young and popular player for years to come. Similar to Bryant, Syndergaard broke onto the scene with a popular teams and had success in his first postseason. His fastball is not going away and neither is that NYC fame. Noah boasts a triple digit fastball and over triple digit autograph already at age 23. Get the autograph today or the price may skyrocket.
Corey Seager – The Dodgers are undoubtedly Kershaw’s team but the future is on the shoulders of tall short stop, Corey Seager. Seager is on pace for Rookie of the Year consideration and possesses everything you would like to see in a blue chip prospect. Corey is a very approachable guy and his swing is here to stay. Seager will be a staple in LA for years to come. Lots of Seager autographs out there, lots of hype. Not great value.
Carlos Correa – The Astros savior, Carlos Correa is one of the biggest names in today’s game. The product of Puerto Rico won the 2015 American League Rookie of the Year and is on a great pace for 2016. Correa was the #1 Pick a few years back and progressed quickly through the Minor Leagues. His impact lifted the Houston Astros to an improbable postseason appearance in 2015. Correa and Machado are truly the class of young power hitting infielders moving forward. Lots of product circulating. Not the best buy at this time.
Sleeper Level – Worth A Glance
Gregory Polanco – Overshadowed in his own outfielder Gregory Polanco quietly has put together an excellent 2016 campaign with his long frame and five-tool skill set. If his Pirates can make it out of the Wild Card Game, the national exposure will help uncover of the hidden gems in the National League. Potential MVP talent. Multiple All-Stars in his future.
Jurickson Profar – Jurickson very well could be listed in all four categories. He’s been a #1 prospect; he has been deemed a bust. But where he stands right now, he is stationed under the radar because he has not had a lot of the instance success that many from this 23 and under club have enjoyed. Still crazy talented and a potential impact player in the 2016 MLB Playoffs. Many collectors have moved on. Good buy low opportunity.
Steven Matz – His stats indicate it is hard to outshine this kid, but Matz is the fourth most popular pitcher in the heralded New York Mets starting rotation. Matz is a native of New York and has that “it” factor that you want to root for. He will not blow 100 mph smoke by you, but has that crafty left skill set similar to Tom Glavine. On a staff like the Mets, he will enjoy long success and become a household name. Good value for autograph.
Mookie Betts – Can I copy and paste Xander Bogaerts’ rationale? Betts is no second fiddle to anyone. Bogaerts and Betts are the new face of the Boston Red Sox. Big Papi’s 2016 Farewell Season is overshadowing Betts’ tremendous season and potential. Betts exhibits great speed, power at the ripe age of 22. Betts’ learning curve has been admirable in 2016 and the peripherals suggest he is no fluke. The Red Sox look destined for a fair shot at a late 2010’s dynasty. Bet Betts.
I’ll Pass – Saturated, Overhyped
Yaisel Puig – Puig could have graduated this list as “prospect” but the book is still out on Yasiel. Many analysts wonder if he will ever be the player we saw when he broke onto the scene in 2013. Consecutive underwhelming seasons. Yasiel Puig grabs the headlines weekly but at this stage in his career, his autograph is over circulated and not worth the price.
Byron Buxton – If a Minnesota Twins prospect is turning heads, he must be a special talent. Buxton may very well just be in a funk as I write this, and could be a perennial All-Star in the American League. This could be the overreaction I referenced in Profar’s case but he carries a whole lot of hype without results. Not going to call him a bust, just not going to claim him a collector’s favorite target at this point in time.
Michael Wacha – Wacha took the 2013 Playoffs by storm with his dazzling performance on the mound. Not predicting injury or anything, but I have trouble seeing a long, long career for Wacha. I see more Mark Prior than Adam Wainwright in his repertoire. His biggest moments in the MLB may be behind him. Seems like a trade candidate in the near future, hurting his collector value. For the price and for the future, not big on Wacha’s career.
Joc Pederson – Pederson was the toast of Los Angeles during the first half of his rookie 2015 campaign. Joc was blasting bombs into Chavez Ravine. Pitchers adapted to his power stroke and Pederson nosedived in the second half. Do not see long-term MLB success with Pederson. Can very well be an Andre Ethier type Dodger, but that is not going to move the needle on the Memorabilia Scale.