The Texas Rangers have a history of sluggers including Ruben Sierra, Juan Gonzalez, Alex Rodriguez and Jose Canseco. Joey Gallo is looking to join that list in the years ahead. As one of the premier home run hitters in the minors, early Joey Gallo cards are garnering attention in the hobby. The big question is whether the excitement of his home runs are enough to offset the massive strikeout totals he has put up in the past.
The Rangers picked Gallo with the 39th pick in the 2012 draft. However, he has cards that predate this thanks to his time with the USA Baseball program. The third baseman's first cards were released in 2011 products from both Topps and Panini. This includes a handful of autographs.
Since being drafted and signing with the Rangers, there are now several MLB cards of Gallo in a Texas uniform including a few in late-2012 products. Among them is a 2012 Bowman Chrome Draft Prospect Autograph, which is considered the top Joey Gallo card that's widely available.
All of the Joey Gallo cards released so far are either inserts or come from prospect or minor league sets. As such, he doesn't have any rookie cards yet in a traditional sense. That doesn't mean there isn't a lot of interest in what's out there already though.
Now that he's made the Rangers' big league roster, official rookie cards should arrive in late-season sets.
Below is a list of Joey Gallo prospect card highlights. It's not a full list but rather some of the top choices a lot of collectors look to for varying reasons.
Key Joey Gallo Prospect Cards
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It is not the most attractive card and it uses icky stickers on chromium stock, but it is the first Joey Gallo card to find its way into a MLB product. Joined by Carson Kelly, it pictures both as members of the national squad. Although notable for being first, it's largely overlooked.
The numbering to 199 is low enough to begin with, but this is a tough card to find. It's Gallo's first Panini card, produced after the card maker took over the USA Baseball license from Topps. 2011 Panini Limited wasn't received very well upon release and a lot of the cards haven't surfaced in large quantities. Despite not having an autograph or additional selling points, this might be a Joey Gallo USA card worth watching.
Included in the 2011 Topps USA Baseball box set, this card is easy to find and costs relatively little. It's an ideal choice for someone looking for something early and cheap.
It's not the most exciting photo, but the on-card signature is a plus. Also, compared to a lot of other early autographed Joey Gallo cards, the base version is very affordable.
For those who like the full package on a card, this one combines an autograph (albeit a sticker) with a trio of jersey swatches. Most are all white, but it does have a clean design. It also comes numbered to 214.
If your budget is limited, the 2012 Bowman Chrome Draft Joey Gallo is an excellent choice. It's Gallo's first card in a Rangers uniform. And since it's not signed, it's still very affordable. Technically, it's an insert so it's not a rookie in the traditional sense, however, it's often treated as one. Several levels of Refractor parallels add a chase element.
As far as Joey Gallo cards go, this is considered by most to be a cornerstone piece. Highlighted by an on-card signature and the popular Bowman Chrome name, it's likely to be the most widely collected card of the slugger. Whether it's the basic version or any of the colorful Refractors, all are popular.
Topps introduced the cross-brand Bowman Black Autographs in 2012. The cards feature a distinct design and are signed in silver ink. Limited to 25 copies, they don't show up very often. Collectors should also be aware they are very condition sensitive and edge wear is common. This particular card was inserted in 2012 Bowman Draft.
Continuing in the tradition of AFLAC autographs, this card has one of the earliest Joey Gallo cards captured on cards. Although released in 2012 Bowman Draft, the card was shot, produced and signed at the 2011 All-American Classic, more than a year earlier. Collectors may encounter copies that aren't serial numbered. That's because some were handed out at the event and given to players. You should use caution with these as, historically, similar cards have been easy to counterfeit or add fake signatures to. Pack-inserted cards are serial numbered.
Like the Bowman Chrome Autograph, Sterling has Gallo in a Rangers jersey and an on-card signature. However, it doesn't cost nearly as much. Even with a lofty box price, Sterling doesn't have the same brand affinity as Bowman Chrome. So if you're looking for a MLB card and the brand doesn't matter, this may be one to lean towards.
Leaf did a handful of different Joey Gallo autograph cards in 2012. Not licensed by the MLB or MLBPA, they're more reasonably priced than those released by Topps. 2012 Leaf Metal Draft is for those who like chromium cards. Besides a basic version, there are several colorful Prismatic parallels.
2012 Leaf Ultimate Draft sticks with the on-card signature theme, but takes a more traditional approach to its design. Like Metal Draft, it's significantly cheaper than many other early Gallo autographs.
2012 Leaf Valiant is a nod to the Donruss Crusade inserts of the late 1990s. The royal theme mixes with a refractor finish to give it a distinct look. Besides the regular version, there are numbered parallels that feature different colors.
Although it's not licensed by MLB, the 2012 Panini Elite Extra Edition Joey Gallo autograph looks solid with him in his high school uniform. It comes with an on-card signature. Unlike Bowman Chrome, it's also serial numbered. Limited to 498 copies, it walks the rarity balance.