2011 Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects Product Review
Reviewed by Paul Lesko
Good: A good autograph checklist compliments a deep 2011 draft class, continues with a good prospect card design, no Bowman bends, a chance to pull Futures Relics and AFLAC autos.
Bad: Not all the autographs are great, which especially hurts for a one-hit per box product like this, too much emphasis on the USA cards, with Leaf Valiant and Metal Draft beating Bowman to the market, a lot of excitement over the autos has diminished, AFLAC autographs aren't serial numbered.
The Bottom Line: Every year I enjoy this product, and 2011 Bowman Draft Picks was no different. Sure, a couple of names were missing, but we can satisfy our Cole and Rendons urges through other products, at least until their first Bowman cards arrive in 2012.
Card Design: 4.2/5.0
2011 Bowman Draft continues with a decent base prospect card design. It's sharp, shiny and has good art. I said it before, it's a very impressive design.
But really, a lot of the excitement for this product comes from the autographs, which also continue the quality design from Bowman Chrome. The semi-transparent, white signing-surface is just large enough to show off the signature without breaking up the continuity of the image on the card. It's good stuff.
The Futures patches, especially the jumbo patches, are noteworthy. Even better, the disclaimer on the back of the patch confirms the patch actually came from the 2011 Futures game.
It's too bad about the AFLAC autos. Somehow, they did not get numbered, which unfortunately opens up the secondary market to potential fraud. Topps has united with PSA to allow those who pull the cards to get them slabbed for free, which adds value, but it is value-added due to a mistake. However, a free slab for a great up-and-comer is a great offer.
And there are no Bowman bends this time around. That killed my enjoyment of 2011 Bowman Chrome, so I was leery going into this one. No need to fear.
My biggest complaint with the design though is the base Bowman cards. Why do they still exist? Sure, I understand Topps' desire for retail autos that differ from hobby autographs but when the base cards mirror the Chrome base cards, it seems a lot of wasted time and money. Maybe it's time to drop the non-chrome and focus solely on the Chrome?
The 2011 draft class was praised as one of the deepest in a long time, and 2011 Bowman Draft has a good sampling of autographs from some of the biggest names, including Bauer, Starling, Gray, Springer, Swihart, Bundy, Bradley, Wong and more.
Now, Leaf did beat Bowman Draft to the market with two 2011 draft sets (Metal Draft and Valiant) that had deeper checklists (cough, Rendon, cough), but the Bowman Chrome autos are still king as reflected by eBay prices.
There's also a lot of focus on the USA cards, autographed and non-autographed. For the last two years, these cards were desirable because of the big names in them (Strasburg, Harper, Cole, etc). I think Topps read that as a desire for more USA cards. It may backfire this year when the USA checklist is filled with a lot of unrecognizable names. Guess that's just the fallout from the last few draft classes being as deep as they were and the upcoming ones not as deep.
The checklists for the Futures relics and AFLAC cards are ridiculous. Futures relics include Harper, Machado, Miller, Goldschmidt, Moore, Marte and more. The AFLAC checklist has Bundy, Bradley, Swihart and Lindor. Wow. They're certainly power pulls if you are lucky enough to get them.
The biggest problem with Bowman products is the one hit per box. While it is a deep checklist, there are still some duds. I'm all for this format changing somehow, either by shrinking the checklist to only the best prospects, or keep the longer checklist but have more than one guaranteed hit per box.
I hope that with added competition from Leaf Valiant and Metal Draft that Bowman changes its format at some point. But, with the exclusive MLB contract still with Topps, it's pretty much assured that if you want an early autograph in uniform, Bowman is the only game in town. Also, with all things being equal, if I had a choice of just one George Springer Valiant, Metal Draft or Bowman Chrome autograph, I'm going Chrome because this card design simply looks better than both Leaf products.
The Fun Factor: 4.0/5.0
Just look at eBay, the Bowman Draft autographs have value. They also have more value than their competition (for now). The one hit per box format, though, makes it hit and miss if you buy by the box. However, case buyers of cases are likely to get a good return.
My recommendation still is to invest in at least one box then cherry pick as many autographs from the secondary market as you can.
Calling all prospectors: 2011 Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects Baseball offers your latest fix of Bryce Harper hits, up-and-coming youngsters and Refractors galore. Once again combining the Bowman and Bowman Chrome brands, the release sticks to the format that's made it one of the most popular in the hobby. Bowman Chrome MLB Future Stars autographs come one per box. Hobby boxes will also have one of 18 Bowman Chrome 2011 USA Baseball 16U National Team autographs.
Estimated Release Date: 11/23/11
Product Configuration: 24 packs per box, seven cards per pack
Price Point: Mid-End Baseball Card
Target Audience: Prospectors, Rookie Card Collectors, Chromies, Autograph Collectors, Set Builders, Refractor Fans
- One on-card Bowman Chrome Autograph
- One Team USA Baseball 16U Chrome Autograph
- 72 Rookie Cards (48 Bowman, 24 Bowman Chrome)
- 24 Parallel Cards
- 168 total cards
- 110-card base set done in both Bowman and Bowman Chrome formats. All are rookie cards. Two Bowman cards and one Bowman Chrome card are inserted in each pack.
- 92-card MLB Future Stars set and 18-card USA Baseball 16U National Team set in Bowman and Bowman Chrome formats. Three Bowman cards and one Bowman Chrome card per pack.
- Bowman parallels (Base, Future Stars and USA Baseball): Bowman Blue (/499), Printing Plates, Red (/1).
- Bowman Chrome Parallels (Base, Future Stars and USA Baseball): Refractors, Blue Refractors (/199), Gold Refractors (/50), Orange Refractors (/25), Red Refractors (/10), Printing Plates, Super-Fractors (/1), Canary Diamond (/1).
- 31 different Bowman Chrome MLB Future Stars Autographs are inserted one per box. Autographs are on-card and all the subjects are new signers to the Bowman Chrome brand. Parallels: Refractors (/500), Blue Refractors (/150), Gold Refractors (/50), Orange Refractors (/25), Purple Refractors (/10), Red Refractors (/5), Printing Plates, Super-Fractors (/1).
- Exclusive to hobby boxes, 2011 USA Baseball 16U National Team Bowman Chrome Autographs are inserted as a bonus hit. The checklist will consist of 18 cards. Parallels: Refractors (/199), Blue Refractors (/99), Gold Refractors (/50), Orange Refractors (/25), Purple Refractors (/10), Red Refractors (/5), Printing Plates, Super-Fractors (/1).
- Bryce Harper Autographed Relic Card: (/69) featuring a piece of his 2011 MLB Futures Game jersey. Parallels: Blue (/50), Gold (/25), Green (/5), Red (/1)
- A new Bryce Harper Bowman Green Autograph (/350) is a new parallel of his 2011 Bowman Baseball card. Autographs are on-card.
- 2011 Futures Game Relic Cards feature jersey swatches from the participants in the Minor League All-Star Game. Parallels: Jumbo Patch Cards (/5), "Futures Game" Patch Cards (/1, hobby only), MLB Logo Patch (/1, hobby only). Bryce Harper is promised to be included in the set.
- AFLAC Autographed Cards highlight players from past AFLAC All-American High School Games. Each card is numbered. The checklist includes Yordy Cabrera, Stetson Allie, Tony Wolters, Braxton Lane, Jason Thompson and Kyrell Hudson.
- Continuing the season-long cross-brand set, three more players are added to the Topps 60th Anniversary Autographed Cards set (/60).
- Free PSA Authentication for 2011 Bowman Draft AFLAC Autographs
- 2011 Bowman Draft Baseball Adds Nine More to Autograph Lineup