The baseball card market was set ablaze in 2017 with the emergence of a rookie phenom by the name of Aaron Judge. The hobby continues that trend in 2018 as #Shotime has once again produced a frenzied hype surrounding the first few baseball products of 2018. While all eyes are on Shohei Ohtani to see what the young Japanese two-way phenom can do in The Show, he’s not the only rookie who’s name that you’ll be hearing for years to come.
While Topps products are best known as being the home of the true rookie card, those players are featured sometimes years earlier in Bowman branded products. 2018 Bowman is the first of several Bowman products to be released this year and has generated strong buzz. Not only is there handsome payday on the horizon for the lucky individual who pulls the Shohei Ohtani Superfractor Autograph, but a strong prospect checklist makes this product well worth the price.
If you’re not familiar with this year’s crop of prospects and rookies, we’ve got your back! Presenting the 18 names that you need to know in 2018 Bowman:
The Top 10
- Shohei Ohtani | P/DH | Los Angeles Angels
Until one or more of these prospects make it to The Show and their cards catch fire, 2018 Bowman is the Shohei Ohtani set. The Angels two-way player tops our list as the most desirable autograph to hit in the product, with base autographs currently selling for over $1,000. Ohtani also has a paper rookie card and various colored parallels that will hold steady value even after his true rookie is released in 2018 Topps Series 2.
The 1/1 Superfractor autograph was hit just a couple of weeks ago by a lucky collector in California. If it hits the market, it could fetch in excess of $75,000.
- Luis Robert | OF | Chicago White So
Robert signed one of the largest contracts ever for an international amateur player last year and is currently the #3 prospect in the Chicago White Sox farm system. The highly touted 20-year-old outfielder’s first chrome autograph and non-autographed cards are featured in 2018 Bowman.
Although injuries have delayed his 2018 debut, he hit .310 with an OPS of 1.027 through 28 games in the Dominican Summer League in 2017 in his first professional level action.
- Hunter Greene | P | Cincinnati Reds
Greene was the second overall pick for the Cincinnati Red in the 2017 Major League Baseball draft, joining the team to the tune of a $7.2 million signing bonus. Despite a slow start in Single-A in 2018, the hard-throwing 18-year-old has raw, unrefined potential and is equally potent with a bat. His fastball routinely hits the gun at 100 MPH.
- Vladimir Guerrero Jr. | OF | Toronto Blue Jays
Son of a Hall-of-Fame big leaguer? Check. Headed to the majors before his 20th birthday? Likely check as well. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is the #1 prospect in all of baseball and his impending arrival to the Blue Jay is simply a formality at this point. Guerrero Jr. has been flirting with a .400 batting average in Double-A with over a dozen home runs through 230 at bats in 2018.
Even though this is the third year of Bowman products he’s featured in, as we’ve seen in the past with big league bound prospects, parallels of his 2018 chrome and insert cards should yield strong returns when the kid gets the call up. His Big League Breakthroughs insert is particularly coveted as it should be redeemable for a short printed uncirculated RC.
- Ronald Acuna Jr. | OF | Atlanta Braves
Similar to Guerrero Jr., Ronald Acuna is not a stranger to the Bowman line, previously having cards in 2017 sets. Acuna made an early season debut for the surging Atlanta Braves, byut still found his way in 2018 Bowman as a prospect. Parallels of his base and inserts should command good prices.
- Royce Lewis | SS | Minnesota Twins
This 19-year-old Minnesota Twins prospect as drafted first overall in the 2017 Major League Baseball draft. The speedy shortstop has produced well in Single-A during his brief professional career, and his well-rounded set of skills should be a welcome addition to the Twins ball club. He has autos in both 2017 Bowman Draft and 2018 Bowman.
- Keibert Ruiz | C | Los Angeles Dodgers
Although his impending arrival isn’t likely until late 2019 at best, Ruiz ranks as the #3 best catching prospect in baseball and is the 6th best prospect in the Dodgers organization. His high upside and young age should help his case to take over behind the backstop for the Dodgers when the time is ready. Both his auto and non-autographed chrome cards are his debut in the Bowman line.
- Juan Soto | OF | Washington Nationals
This prodigal outfielder arrived a bit early for the Washington Nationals in 2018 and become a household name in Washington D.C. when he became the youngest Nationals player ever to smash a home run at 19 years and 208 days old. The previous record holder? Bryce Harper. That’s pretty good company. Although he has an auto in 2016 Bowman Chrome, and a prospect card in 2017 Bowman Chrome and Draft, his is 2018 cards should also fetch solid prices.
9.Cristian Pache | OF | Atlanta Braves
19-year-old Christian Pache swiped 32 bags in Single-A in 2017 and appears to be the next-in-line to join the youth movement in Atlanta. 2018 Bowman features his first prospect autographs and are a solid long term investment, as it’s quite apparent that the Braves organization knows how to nurture young talent given the success of Ozzie Albies, Ronald Acuna and Sean Newcomb in 2018.
- Jordan Hicks | P | St. Louis Cardinals
Hicks arrived in the majors in 2018 for the St. Louis Cardinals and loudly made a name for himself with a fastball that has touched 105 MPH this season. He posted an 8-3 record in the minors in 2017 with a 2.74 era and 95 strikeouts in 105 innings as a starter. What his future in the big leagues holds is still undecided, but this flamethrower’s potential cannot be ignored. Despite being drafted in 2015, his first Bowman wasn’t issued until 2018.
Best of the Rest
- DJ Peters | OF | Los Angeles Dodgers
22-year-old outfielder prospect with above average power that is currently the #6 prospect in the Dodgers system.
- Colton Welker | 3B | Colorado Rockies
20-year-old third baseman with a good eye at the plate and can hit for power. The #4 prospect in the Rockies system is expected to arrive in the Bigs in 2020.
- Jose Siri | OF | Cincinnati Reds
Hey Siri, tell me about the 22-year-old outfielder who signed with the Reds from the Dominic Republic in 2012. Jose Siri is has great speed, above average power and is exciting player to watch. His first Bowman autograph can be found in 2018 Bowman.
- Andres Gimenez | SS | New York Mets
19-year-old speedy shortstop that is the #1 prospect in the New York Mets farm system. Collectors won’t care about his ugly autograph if he can perform at the major league level. ETA 2020.
- MacKenzie Gore | P | San Diego Padres
The San Diego Padres 19-year-old pitching prospect put up gaudy numbers in high school, but has had limited exposure to Rookie and Single-A ball so far. He hit the 2018 Top-100 prospect list at #17 and is second in the Padres system behind Fernando Tatis Jr.
- Kyle Tucker | OF | Houston Astros
2018 Bowman marks the fourth year of Bowman cards for Tucker, the 21-year-old outfield prospect for the Astros. He should arrive in 2018 for the World Series champs and will have every opportunity to an already stacked batting order.
- Brendan McKay | P / 1B | Tampa Bay Rays
This 22-year-old two-way player is the Tampa Bay Rays #3 prospect as a pitcher and a first basemen. He pitches with great command with three above average pitches and has a smooth swing at the plate. His 2017 Bowman Draft autos will command premium over his 2018 Bowman.
- JB Bukauskas | P | Houston Astros
21-year-old right handed pitcher with a plus-plus fastball and slider ranks #3 in the Astros organization. He should have a clear path to the majors in 2020, and his 2018 Bowman prospect autograph is currently his best card available.
Honorable Mentions: McKenzie Mills, Shed Long, Eloy Jimenez