Collectors chase cards of MLB draftees in their search to find the next superstar

By Bert Lehman

The NFL Draft is one of the most anticipated events each year for fans of the NFL. Football card collectors pay close attention to the NFL draft each year and tend to chase after the cards of the high draft picks.

The same can be said for the NBA Draft. For some teams in the league, the draft is the highlight of their season, as they are able to tell their fans that they will be “good” in the future. Just like football card collectors, basketball card collectors also pay close attention to the draft results.

The Major League Baseball Draft doesn’t come close to rivaling the NFL or NBA draft in terms of TV coverage or excitement from fans. Since the MLB Network started live coverage of the baseball draft, interest in the draft results has started to increase with baseball card collectors. This increased interest is reflected in an uptick in selling prices for the cards that are available of the top draft picks.

One thing to remember is cards of the top draft picks from the MLB Draft can be scarcer or not exist at all for some players.

Half of the players drafted in this year’s first round of the MLB Draft had cards on the secondary market because of Panini America’s exclusive partnership with USA Baseball. The cards can be found in the company’s 2017 Stars & Stripes USA Baseball and 2016 Elite Extra Edition Baseball releases.

After the first round of the draft, Panini America released a press release stating that eight of the first 18 players selected in the first round of the draft have exclusive autograph, memorabilia and autographed memorabilia cards in those two products.    

First round draftees who have trading cards on the secondary market from the two previously mentioned Panini America products include (players with an * next to their name have exclusive autographs and memorabilia cards on the market):

1st Overall: (Twins) Royce Lewis, SS, JSerra Catholic High School, CA
2nd Overall: (Reds) Hunter Greene, RHP/SS, Notre Dame High School, CA
*4th Overall: (Rays) Brendan McKay, 1B/LHP, Louisville Cardinals
*5th Overall: (Braves) Kyle Wright, RHP, Vanderbilt Commodores
*9th Overall: (Brewers) Keston Hiura, 2B/DH, UC Irvine Anteaters
*11th Overall: (White Sox) Jake Burger, 3B, Missouri State Bears
12th Overall: (Pirates) Shane Baz, RHP, Concordia Lutheran High School, TX
*14th Overall: (Royals) Nick Pratto, 1B/RHP, Huntington Beach High School, CA
*15th Overall: (Astros) J.B. Bukauskas, RHP, North Carolina Tar Heels
*17th Overall: (Mariners) Evan White, 1B, Kentucky Wildcats
*18th Overall: (Tigers) Alex Faedo, RHP, Florida Gators
20th Overall: (Mets) David Peterson, LHP, Oregon Ducks
23rd Overall: (Dodgers) Jeren Kendall, OF, Vanderbilt Commodores
24th Overall: (Red Sox) Tanner Houck, RHP, Missouri Tigers
30th Overall: (Cubs) Alex Lange, RHP, LSU Tigers

Five additional second round draft picks have autograph and memorabilia cards in the Panini America products. They include:

48th Overall (Rockies) Ryan Vilade, 3B, Stillwater HS, OK
52nd Overall (Royals) M.J. Melendez, C, Westminster Christian School, FL
*61st Overall (Blue Jays) Hagen Danner, C, Huntington Beach HS, CA
64th Overall Quentin Holmes, OF, McClancy Memorial HS, NY
66th Overall Hans Crouse, RHP, Dana Hills HS, CA

Prior to the draft, the 2017 USA Stars & Stripes Autograph cards numbered to 499 for Royce Lewis, who was the No. 1 pick in the draft, were selling for $10-$15 on eBay. That same card was selling for $30-$35 immediately after Lewis was drafted. Buying has leveled off since, with that card selling for $15-$20 in late June.

One of his autograph cards numbered 5/5, featuring his signature in green ink, sold for $110.

Silhouette Jersey Game Used/Autograph cards numbered to 199 sell in the $30-$40 range.

Hunter Greene may have been the second pick in the draft, but his available cards are outselling those of Lewis. In the days following the draft, Greene’s 2017 USA Stars & Stripes Autograph cards numbered to 499 were selling for around $50, before settling to the $25-$30 range by late June.

Silhouette Jersey Game Used/Autograph cards numbered to 199 sell in the $30-$40 range.

A 2017 Panini USA Baseball Silhouette Game Used Bat/Autograph card numbered 2/5 sold for $256 the day of the draft.

Future cards

The first MLB-licensed cards of the 2017 MLB Draft class will appear in 2017 Bowman Draft Baseball. That release is scheduled to arrive in hobby shops in December.

Bowman Draft Baseball will continue to offer a Super Jumbo Box guaranteeing five autograph cards and 600 total cards per box. Further breaking it down, the Jumbo Box will contain three on-card chrome autographs per box, along with a mix of new insert content and base cards of top MLB Draft Picks.

Collectors looking for a new autograph case hit – Class of 2017 Autographs – will be unveiled and will exclusively feature on-card autographs of 2017 MLB Draft 1st round selections.

Bert Lehman is the editor of Sports Collectors Digest. He can be reached at bert.lehman@fwmedia.com.

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