By Larry Canale
Despite a trying season, the Philadelphia Phillies are giving fans something to look forward to in 2018: a core of young players who are forming an impressive foundation.
The team has starting pitchers Aaron Nola, Ben Lively and Mark Leiter Jr., plus a hard-throwing closer, Hector Neris. There are multi-talented outfielders Aaron Altherr, Odubel Herrera and Nick Williams. And, of course, there’s first baseman/outfielder Rhys Hoskins.
Called up in August, Hoskins made an immediate impact, hitting 12 homers in his first 24 games. The 6-foot-4, 225-pounder who was raised in Sacramento, California, has quickly attracted the attention of collectors, and while prices are generally starting to escalate, you can still find wallet-friendly pieces.
Here’s a sampling of Hoskins items that sold in August:
• An autographed 1-of-1 gold 2016 Elite Extra Edition Aspirations card sold for $750 in a Buy It Now deal.
• A 2014 Bowman Draft parallel rookie card numbered 4-of-5 fetched $700.
• Also bringing $700: a 2016 Elite Extra Edition Contenders Championship Ticket card—a signed 1-of-1 issue.
• A signed 2016 Elite Extra Edition Aspirations card numbered 45/50 sold for $381 on nine bids.
• Authenticated Hoskins-signed bats are selling anywhere from $150 to $450. And signed Hoskins baseballs sell for prices between $40 and $125.
ROOK 2: CODY CALLING
While Rhys Hoskins is new to the MLB scene, anotherrookie has been pounding baseballs all season: Cody Bellinger. The Dodgers outfielder, a 6-foot-four lefty swinger, had 34 homers through August and hit two more the first week in September.
His exploits are firing up baseball collectors, too. Consider his 2015 signed Bowman Chromes. In August, we saw Gold Refractor versions of the card sell for $6,000 and $5,300, while a Green Refractor sold for $4,600. They had identical grades of 9.5 with a 10 for the sigs.
Bellinger’s 2017 Topps Chrome card is another one to watch. A Gold Refractor version of this autographed card brought $1,250 in late August, an Orange Refractor fetched $1,228 and a Blue Refractor drew $810. All were ungraded but in top condition.
Prices of Bellinger’s Bowman Chrome cards have been spiking somewhat dramatically over the past six months, not surprisingly. Ditto for signed Bellinger baseballs. While they were available (authenticated) for $40 to $50 a few months ago, they’re steadily selling for $100 to $200 as the season winds down.
ROOK 3: PURPLE REIGN
If 2017 is the year of the rookie, Aaron Judge needs a mention. We’ve covered his ascent multiple times in recent months, so we’ll keep this short: We noticed a new high for a Judge Purple Refractor from Topps’ 2013 Bowman Chrome set in mid-August. A near-perfect specimen of the card—it was graded BGS 9.5, with a 10 for the autograph—sold for the hefty figure of $18,750.
But… has the Yankees star’s soft second half pushed away speculative buyers? Just 10 days after the sale mentioned above, another Purple Refractor—this one also graded 9.5 with a 10 for the sig—sold for $7,624. It did draw 65 bids, but the increments proved far lower than what you’d expect after the $18,750 sale.
IS MICHAEL IN THERE?
Topping our chart this time out is an unopened box of Fleer hoop cards from, yes, 1986-87. How many Michael Jordan rookies might be in that box? Two of them—assuming perfect-10 condition—would just about match the $38,669 price of the entire 36-pack box.
While we’ve seen Jordan’s Fleer rookie card top $20,000, there are three in this current Top 10 list that sold for prices between $18,000 and $19,000.
RUN, BARRY, RUN
Was there ever a more dynamic, thrilling running back to watch than Barry Sanders? He had a million moves, and consistently left defenders grasping for air. At 10 years, his career seemed too short: He called it quits at age 30, having just finished a season (1998) in which he rushed for 1,491 yards and gained another 289 via 37 pass receptions. In total, he ran for 15,269 yards in his career, averaging a clean 5.0 yards per carry.
We’re reminded of Sanders because a perfect specimen of his 1989 Score rookie card went up for auction in late August and attracted 55 bids. The card’s final price: $13,221. Now, you may have noticed other 10-grade Sanders Score rookies selling for far less in recent months; why the frenzy over this one? Because it was slabbed with BGS’s black label, indicating a rare “Pristine” condition card.
Is the black label worth the premium paid? To the buyer who outlasted multiple other bidders, the answer is yes. But keep in mind that you’ll see PSA 10 versions of Sanders’ rookie sell for around $200.
DJ, THE FANTASY KING
At pretty much every fantasy football draft this season, David Johnson of the Cardinals is reigning as the No. 1 overall pick. But what does that mean in the collectibles market? Right now, not a lot. The highest figure paid for a Johnson item over the past two months was just $669, and that was for an autographed 2015 Topps Chrome Gold Refractor card graded BGS 9.5 with a 10 for the sig.
Other sales that show Johnson to be a budget-friendly collecting target include the following items.
• An autographed 2015 National Treasures patch card issued in an edition of 99 sold for $530. Another example of the same card with the same grade got away for $475.
• A 2015 Playoff Contenders Rookie Ticket Card graded BGS 10 with a 10 for the sig went for $402.
• A 2015 Panini Prizm Superfractor Gold Vinyl card went for $400. This one was graded BGS 9.5 with a 9 for the autograph.
• A 2015 National Treasures Hats Off autographed logo patch card (one of only six issued) sold for $379.
Unfortunately, Johnson was injured during the Cardinals first game of the season and will be out of action for 2-3 months.