MLB prospects are an integral part of the trading card industry. These cards feature up-and-coming baseball players who are not yet established in the Major Leagues but show tremendous potential and promise. Collecting prospect cards has always been popular among baseball enthusiasts and collectors, as it allows fans to invest in the future stars of the sport.
Player Development: The transition from prospect to MLB superstar is not guaranteed for every player. Many prospects never make it to the big leagues or fail to live up to the hype. This element of uncertainty makes prospect card collecting both thrilling and unpredictable.
Now let's take a look at the 15 highest ranked 2023 prospects as of November, 2023 (via MLB.com).
1. Jackson Holliday - SS Baltimore Orioles
2. Jackson Chourio - OF Milwaukee Brewers
3. Paul Skenes - RHP Pittsburg Pirates
4. Dylan Crews - OF Washington Nationals
5. Ethan Salas - C San Diego Padres
6. Junior Caminero - 3B/SS Tampa Bay Rays
7. James Wood - OF Washington Nationals
8. Evan Carter - OF Texas Rangers
9. Jackson Merrill - SS San Diego Padres
10. Jordan Lawlar - SS Arizona Diamondbacks
11. Marcelo Mayer - SS Boston Red Sox
12. Pete Crow-Armstrong - OF New York Mets
13. Wyatt Langford - OF Texas Rangers
14. Colton Cowser - OF Baltimore Orioles
15. Max Clark - OF Detroit Tigers
So when it comes to card collecting, how do we approach this list and which cards should we buy?
Well, first let's eliminate pitchers from the list. Pitchers have historically traded at a fraction of the value of position players, but there are always exceptions to the rule. Paul Skenes was a dominant #1 LSU pitcher who will be called up to the major leagues sooner than later. If there is a pitcher in this class whose cards can get some momo, it's him.
The teams they play on matter--a lot. Prospects on big market teams typically command higher value. In early 2023, NY Yankees SS Anthony Volpe was trading at values near or above likely ROTY winners Gunnar Henderson and Corbin Carrol.
Look for star potential. 5-tool players, long ball hitters and straight up freaks of nature (i.e. the Martian, Jasson Dominguez) will be where many prospectors initially put their money.
How accurate were previous rankings? In 2022, the top five prospects were Bobby Witt Jr., Adley Rutschman, Julio Rodriguez, Spencer Torkelson and Riley Green. Not a bad list and a fairly safe play if you bought in on them early. With that said, Elly De La Cruz was ranked #76 in 2022. You could have picked up his cards at a fraction of today's value, which is why it's important to...
Penny sleeve and stash away all your Draft & 1st Bowmans and come back to them a year or two later. You never know who will be called up or who will become a future star.
Which cards are the best to buy?
There are many licensed options to choose from--everything from Bowman Draft to Topps Chrome to Topps Triple Threads. Check out Cardboard Connection for a calendar of every new release.
If you're on a budget and you're looking to get in on a prospect early, we'd suggest buying Bowman Draft and 1st Bowmans in Bowman Chrome. Then when they're called up to the bigs, we'd suggest Topps Chrome.