2011 Great American Baseball Card Tour: AL East

2011 Great American Baseball Card Tour: AL East

Tour Stop #2: American League East

Welcome to stop #2 on our massive 30 team, 600 card tour of the best veteran and prospect baseball cards on the planet. Our tour began with a look at the premier cards from each member of the American League Central. Our next stop takes us to the best cards from American League East!

Each team was assigned two grades, one based on the strength of their veteran cards and one based on the strength of their prospect cards (any player who qualifies as a rookie in 2011 and beyond). Those two grades were then combined to come up with a single grade for each team. Grades were based on the following factors:SAMPLE TICKET1 Image

  • Star Power (veteran cards) - How many hobby superstars does the team have? Having a top 25 hobby force (Mauer, Pujols, etc.) can carry a team's veteran grade.
  • Star Potential (prospect cards) - How many potential future hobby superstars does a team have? Like Star Power, a top 25 hobby prospect can carry a team's prospect card grade (Trout, Harper, etc.).
  • Depth - How deep is a team's checklist in terms of collectible players?
  • Cardboard Coverage- This one is completely based on how well a team's players have been covered on cardboard. It also takes into account card quality, brand, autographs, print run, year and numerous other factors pertaining to the cards themselves. This one had less impact on overall grade than Star Power and Depth.

 

1. New York Yankees: A-

NEWYORK YANKEES TICKET 567 ImageWhen this tour wraps up, I would be surprised if any team graded out higher when it comes to veteran cards. A dynasty is defined by the players who serve as the common thread between multiple championships, in Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera, the Yankees have that. Collectors are drawn to dynasties.

The Yankees are top heavy when it comes to prospect cards, with Jesus Montero and Gary Sanchez representing the pride of the Yankees prospect checklist.

From Ruben Rivera to Brandon Clausen to Wily Mo Pena, the Yankees system has been notorious for printing paper prospects over the last 15 years, though that has recently changed due to advances in scouting and the Yankees re-commitment to home grown talent. Jose Tabata and Austin Jackson are two recent examples of solid prospects they've dealt.

One player who's interesting is outfielder Slade Heathcott, the Yankees 2009 first round pick. He's only 20, has plus tools and isn't afraid to get his uniform dirty. Injuries have limited him to just 308 minor league at-bats, but he's already got a Bowman Chrome auto and with a little luck in the health department he could see his card stock rise in 2011.

Two other prospects worth keeping an eye on are hurlers Dellin Batances and Manny Banuelos. Banuelos is due for a Bowman Chrome auto sometime soon, while Batances already has one from 2007.

Top 10 Veteran Baseball Cards:

  1. 1993 SP #279 Derek Jeter FOIL RC Image ($100)
  2. 1993 Stadium Club Murphy #117 Derek Jeter RC Image ($80)
  3. 1994 SP #15 Alex Rodriguez FOIL RC Image ($80)
  4. 2003 Bowman Heritage Signs of Greatness #RC Robinson Cano Image ($200)
  5. 1992 Bowman #302 Mariano Rivera RC Image ($40)
  6. 1994 Leaf Limited Rookies Phenoms #10 Alex Rodriguez Image ($300)
  7. 1994 Score Rookie/Traded #HC1 Alex Rodriguez CU Image ($450)
  8. 2001 Ultimate Collection #117 Mark Teixeira T3 AU /250 RC Image ($300)
  9. 1999 Topps Traded Autographs #T33 C.C. Sabathia Image ($120)
  10. 2001 SPx #207 Mark Teixeira AU RC Image ($100)

Top 10 Prospect Baseball Cards:

  1. 2008 Playoff Contenders Season Ticket Autographs #29 Jesus Montero/39 Image ($350)
  2. 2008 Bowman Chrome Draft Prospects #BDPP127 Jesus Montero AU Image ($120
  3. 2010 Bowman Chrome Prospects #BCP207B Gary Sanchez AU Image ($60)
  4. 2008 Bowman Sterling Prospects #JM Jesus Montero JSY AU Image ($60)
  5. 2007 Bowman Chrome Prospects #BC249 Dellin Betances AU Image ($30)
  6. 2010 Donruss Elite Extra Edition #34 Gary Sanchez AU /669 Image ($30)
  7. 2009 TRISTAR Prospects Plus Autographs #73 Manny Banuelos Image ($50)
  8. 2010 Bowman Chrome Prospects #BCP95B Slade Heathcott AU Image ($25)
  9. 2007 Donruss Elite Extra Edition #17 Dellin Betances AU /494 Image ($30)
  10. 2010 Bowman Chrome Draft Autographs #BDPP73 Cito Culver Image ($20)


2. Tampa Bay Rays: B+

TAMPABAY RAYS TICKET 45645 ImageThe face of the Rays checklist is without a doubt Evan Longoria. The 25-year old third baseman is already a top 10 hobby force. Another great thing about Longoria is that he's been thoroughly covered on cardboard since the Rays took him with the 3rd overall pick in the 2006 draft. Longoria is also one of only a handful of players with desirable draft and rookie year autographs (2006 and 2008).

What the Rays lack in veteran depth, they recoup in prospects. Tampa is one of baseball's best drafting teams, no one uses the "sandwich pick" better than the Rays do. In the 2010 draft, Tampa added a talented trio of high hobby upside prospects including Josh Sale (pronounced Sulee), Justin O'Conner and Drew Vettleson.

The Rays also recently ransacked the Cubs farm system in the Matt Garza trade, getting blue chippers Chris Archer and Hak Ju-Lee in return for the overrated righty. Here's the even scarier part, Tampa has 10 of the top 60 picks in the upcoming 2011 draft!

The only thing holding back the Rays prospect checklist back pertains to cardboard coverage. Hak-Ju Lee doesn't have an autographed card yet and Desmond Jennings and Jeremy Hellickson don't have Bowman autographs. Hellickson has a "Justifiable" autograph from 2006, but I tend to steer clear of these when at all possible.

Top 10 Veteran Baseball Cards:

  1. 2006 Bowman Chrome Draft Draft Picks #66 Evan Longoria AU Image ($250)
  2. 2006 Bowman Sterling Prospects #EL Evan Longoria AU B Image ($150)
  3. 2008 Ultimate Collection #101 Evan Longoria Jsy AU/99 RC Image ($250)
  4. 2008 Sweet Spot #121 Evan Longoria AU/249 RC Image ($120)
  5. 2008 SP Authentic #191 Evan Longoria AU/350 (RC) Image ($100)
  6. 2008 SP Authentic #121 Evan Longoria Jsy AU/499 RC Image ($100)
  7. 2008 SPx #148 Evan Longoria AU RC Image ($80)
  8. 2008 Bowman Chrome Prospects #BCP111 David Price AU Image ($60)
  9. 1992 Bowman #532 Manny Ramirez RC Image ($8)
  10. 2002 Upper Deck Prospect Premieres #96 B.J. Upton AU XRC Image ($40)

Top 10 Prospect Baseball Cards:

  1. 2010 Bowman Draft AFLAC Autographs #17 Josh Sale/230 Image ($120)
  2. 2010 Bowman Chrome Draft Prospect Autographs #BDPP77 Josh Sale Image ($30)
  3. 2008 Donruss Threads Signatures Gold #96 Desmond Jennings/749 Image ($50)
  4. 2010 Donruss Elite Extra Edition #115 Josh Sale AU/536 Image ($30)
  5. 2010 Donruss Elite Extra Edition #15 Matt Moore AU /819 Image ($25)
  6. 2010 Bowman Draft AFLAC Autographs #15 Justin O'Conner /230 Image ($30)
  7. 2010 Bowman Platinum Prospect Autographs #CA Chris Archer Image ($20)
  8. 2006 Justifiable Autographs #12 Jeremy Hellickson /775 Image ($80)
  9. 2010 Donruss Elite Extra Edition #2 Drew Vettleson AU /690 Image ($12)
  10. 2010 Bowman Chrome Draft Prospect Autographs #BDPP69 Justin O'Conner AU Image ($12)

3. Boston Red Sox: B

REDSOX TICKET TOUR56 ImageThe Red Sox drastically improved their team checklist during the off-season. The addition of Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford to a team set that already includes Pedroia, Ortiz, Youkilis and Lester makes Boston one of the deepest baseball card teams in the league. The only thing lacking is a legit top 10 hobby star. The one player with the potential to crack the hobby holy grail is Adrian Gonzalez.

Like any blockbuster deal, the A-Gon trade erased some big names from the Red Sox prospect checklist (Casey Kelly, Anthony Rizzo, Reymond Fuentes). The good news is that GM Theo Epstein put together one of his best drafts yet in 2010, adding several high potential position players including Kolbrin Vitek, Bryce Brentz and Garin Cecchini.

Cecchini was absolute steal in the 4th Round, the 19-year old third baseman could be a top 25-50 prospect in 2012. Keep an eye out for his first Bowman Chrome auto, which should come sometime this year. Once that happens, the Red Sox prospect checklist should improve drastically.

The Red Sox are a baseball card team on the rise that should grade out higher than a "B" in our 2012 tour, as they just barely fell short of a "B+" this year. If Adrian Gonzalez has an MVP type season and Garin Cecchini gets some quality cardboard coverage, there's no reason a B+ won't be in the cards.

Top 10 Veteran Baseball Cards:

  1. 2000 Bowman Draft Autographs #BDPA20 Adrian Gonzalez Image ($175)
  2. 1999 Topps Traded Autographs #T75 Carl Crawford Image ($100)
  3. 2004 SP Prospects #340 Dustin Pedroia AU 400/RC Image ($175)
  4. 2006 Bowman Chrome Prospects #BC239 Jon Lester AU Image ($60)
  5. 1997 Ultra #518 David Arias-Ortiz RC Image ($50)
  6. 2003 Bowman Chrome #336 Kevin Youkilis AU A RC Image ($60)
  7. 2005 Bowman Sterling #DP Dustin Pedroia AU Jsy A Image ($120)
  8. 2004 Hot Prospects Draft #109 Dustin Pedroia AU RC Image ($120)
  9. 2006 SP Authentic #277 Jon Lester AU/399 RC Image ($60)
  10. 2003 Bowman's Best #KY Kevin Youkilis FY AU RC Image ($40)

Top 10 Prospect Baseball Cards:

  1. 2010 Bowman Chrome Prospects #BCP108B Jose Iglesias AU Image ($30)
  2. 2010 Bowman Chrome Garin Cecchini Refractors Image (varies)
  3. 2009-10 USA Baseball Patch Autograph Parallel #USA96 Garin Cecchini Image ($30)
  4. 2010 Donruss Elite Extra Edition #200 Anthony Ranaudo AU/150 EXCH Image ($50)
  5. 2010 Bowman Chrome Draft Prospect Autographs #BDPP68 Kolbrin Vitek Image ($15)
  6. 2010 Donruss Elite Extra Edition #106 Kolbrin Vitek AU/542 Image ($25)
  7. 2008 Playoff Contenders Season Ticket Autographs #43 Stolmy Pimentel/39 Image ($200)
  8. 2010 Bowman Chrome Draft Prospect Autographs #BDPP63 Bryce Brentz Image ($15)
  9. 2008 Bowman Draft AFLAC Autographs #DB Drake Britton Image ($40)
  10. 2008 Bowman Chrome Draft Prospects #BDPP125 Josh Reddick AU Image ($25)

 

4. Baltimore Orioles: B-

ORIOLES TICKET 345 ImageThough Manager cards are almost always worthless, adding Manager Buck Showalter to the team set midway through the 2010 MLB Season has done wonders for the Orioles veteran checklist.

With Showalter, youngsters Matt Wieters and Adam Jones are in capable hands for the first time in their careers. Wieters has some big time untapped hobby potential, a bounce back year could send his cards sky rocketing - remember, collectors love catchers.

The addition of Vladimir Guerrero and Mark Reynolds immediately improved Baltimore's cardboard credibility. When you rule out steroid slugger stats (like baseball should do), Vlad is without a doubt one of the 5 greatest hitters of the last 20 years.

The Orioles also improved their prospect checklist drastically via the 2010 MLB Draft, snagging SS Manny Machado with the #3 overall pick, in the process giving the O's a legit hobby star in the making.

Unfortunately, it gets pretty dicey after Machado. Xavier Avery, L.J. Hoes and Mychal Givens all have high upside and are under 21, but have yet to put together a season worth speaking of.

Zach Britton, the Orioles #1 pitching prospect, projects as an above average middle of the rotation starter, which means his long term card potential isn't very good. Collectors look for top of the rotation aces, not #3 starters.

Should Matt Wieters finally find stardom and a prospect or two not-named Manny Machado breakout, the Orioles could see their cardboard stock boost drastically over the next year. For the time being, names like Derek Lee, Brian Roberts and other solid veterans simply aren't very appealing to most collectors.

Top 10 Veteran Baseball Cards:

  1. 1995 SP Top Prospects Autographs #11 Vladimir Guerrero Image ($250)
  2. 1995 Bowman's Best #B2 Vladimir Guerrero RC Image ($25)
  3. 1995 Bowman #90 Vladimir Guerrero RC Image ($15)
  4. 2007 Donruss Elite Extra Edition #120 Matt Wieters AU/799 Image ($80)
  5. 2009 Ultimate Collection #103 Matt Wieters AU/135 RC Image ($60)
  6. 2009 Sweet Spot #122 Matt Wieters AU/350 RC Image ($50)
  7. 2003 Upper Deck Prospect Premieres Autographs #P7 Adam Jones Image ($120)
  8. 2007 Exquisite Collection Rookie Signatures #178 Mark Reynolds Jsy AU/199 RC Image ($50)
  9. 2010 Topps Triple Threads #167 Brian Matusz Jsy AU /99 RC Image ($40)
  10. 2003 Bowman Chrome Draft #171 Nick Markakis AU RC Image ($80)

Top 10 Prospects Baseball Cards:

  1. 2010 Bowman Chrome Draft Prospect Autographs #BDPP80 Manny Machado Image ($80)
  2. 2010 Bowman Chrome USA Baseball Buyback Autographs #18BC10 Manny Machado Image ($350)
  3. 2010 Donruss Elite Extra Edition #132 Manny Machado AU/425 EXCH Image ($80)
  4. 2009-10 USA Baseball #USA113 Manny Machado AU Image ($50)
  5. 2008 Donruss Elite Extra Edition #169 Xavier Avery AU/199 Image ($25)
  6. 2007 Donruss Elite Extra Edition #50 Zach Britton AU /437 Image ($20)
  7. 2010 Bowman Draft AFLAC Autographs #7 Mychal Givens/230 Image ($25)
  8. 2008 Donruss Threads #167 Xavier Avery AU/250 Image ($20)
  9. 2008 Playoff Contenders Season Ticket Autographs #50 Xavier Avery Image ($20)
  10. 2008 Playoff Contenders Season Ticket Autographs #34 L. J. Hoes Image ($20)


5. Toronto Blue Jays: C-

BLUEJAYS TOUR TICKET ImageAt this time last year, Jose Bautista cards were next to worthless. One year and 54 home runs later, the Jays have an improved veteran checklist. Yet, despite his breakout season collectors are still on the fence with fears that he's nothing more than Brady Anderson II. A second standout season could see his cards double in value.

The Toronto veteran with the most unfulfilled hobby potential is outfielder Travis Snider, who at 23 years old could break out at any moment or just as easily fizzle. Either way, he's one to keep an eye on.

The Blue Jays prospect checklist has its moments, but is extremely stale as a whole. Kyle Drabek has always been a touch overrated due to his dad (Doug Drabek) and while J.P. Arencibia has had some memorable moments in 2010, I like fellow Toronto catching prospects Travis d'Arnaud and Carlos Perez more. The 20-year old Perez doesn't have a single card yet, so keep your eyes peeled.

What holds the Blue Jays back is the lack of a consistent star, they always seem to have breakout stars that end up falling back to earth (Aaron Hill). The Jays prospect checklist could really use a skill player or two in the 2011 MLB Draft.

To make things worse, the Blue Jays minor league system has received spotty card coverage as of late. Should top prospect Brett Lawrie receive a Bowman Chrome auto in 2011, this could change drastically, as he's been compared by many to Ryan Braun.

Top 10 Veteran Baseball Cards:

  1. 2006 Bowman Chrome Prospects #BC242 Jose Bautista AU Image ($25)
  2. 2009 SPx #122 Travis Snider AU RC Image ($150)
  3. 2009 SP Authentic #250 Travis Snider AU/100 RC Image ($50)
  4. 2009 Sweet Spot #129 Travis Snider AU/300 RC Image ($25)
  5. 2005 Bowman Chrome Draft #177 Ricky Romero AU B RC Image ($25)
  6. 2009 Topps Chrome #234 Ricky Romero AU Image ($20)
  7. 2007 Bowman Sterling Prospects #TS Travis Snider AU Image ($30)
  8. 2004 SP Prospects #356 Adam Lind AU 400/RC Image ($80)
  9. 2002 Bowman's Best #129 Jose Bautista Bat Relic RC Image ($10)
  10. 2006 Topps Autographs Green #JB Jose Bautista F Image ($20)

Top 10 Prospect Baseball Cards:

  1. 2006 Bowman Sterling Prospects #KD Kyle Drabek AU B Image ($20)
  2. 2008 Bowman Chrome Prospects #BCP126 J.P. Arencibia AU Image ($50)
  3. 2007 Bowman Prospects #BP111 Kyle Drabek AU Image ($20)
  4. 2010 Bowman Draft AFLAC Autographs #19 Aaron Sanchez/38 Image ($40)
  5. 2008 Razor Signature Series #116 Brett Lawrie AU/499 Image ($20)
  6. 2010 Donruss Elite Extra Edition #128 Deck McGuire AU/441 Image ($25)
  7. 2010 Bowman Chrome Draft Prospect Autographs #BDPP86 Deck McGuire Image ($12)
  8. 2010 Bowman Chrome Prospects #BCP104B Anthony Gose AU Image ($10)
  9. 2007 Bowman Chrome Draft Draft Picks #BDPP140 Travis d'Arnaud AU Image ($12)
  10. 2010 Bowman Chrome Draft Prospect Autographs #BDPP74 Aaron Sanchez Image ($10)

Best of the American League East:

Best Overall Card: 2006 Bowman Chrome Evan Longoria Auto
Best High Minors Card: 2008 Bowman Chrome Jesus Montero Auto
Best Low Minors Card: 2010 Bowman Chrome Manny Machado Auto
Breakout Veteran Card: 2007 Donruss Elite Matt Wieters Auto
Breakout Prospect Card: 2010 Bowman Chrome Slade Heathcott Auto
Sleeper Card: 2008 Donruss Elite Xavier Avery Auto
Prospects in Need of a Bowman Chrome Auto: Brett Lawrie, Garin Cecchini, Manny Banuelos, Hak-Ju Lee, Matt Moore, Drew Vettleson, Jeremy Hellickson, Carlos Perez, Zach Britton, Mychal Givens, Xavier Avery, Anthony Ranaudo, Parker Bridwell, Joe Mahoney, Brett Marshall, Henry Ramos, Ryan Lavarnway
Best Veteran Cards: New York Yankees
Best Prospect Cards: Tampa Bay Rays

Great American Tour Guide:

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Brett is a former contributor to The Cardboard Connection.

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