Last time in this space, we raved about rookie Adley Rutschman of the Baltimore Orioles. Baseball’s can’t-miss catcher had just been called up and collectors were on the hunt.
Just a few weeks later, we have to say: Rutschman isn’t exactly lighting it up. He started his big-league career by going 8 for 56 (a paltry .143 average) with no homers and no RBI.
Of course, that’s no reason to host a garage sale so you can unload your Rutschman stash. But his stumble out of the gate may give you pause before hitting the bid button on the next hot rookie.
Unless his name is Julio Rodriguez.
Yes, we’re seeing a dynamic performer in the new right fielder of the Seattle Mariners. Of course, Rodriguez was quite a bit ahead of Rutschman, even though he’s only 21. The highly touted prospect broke camp with the big-league club in April, whereas Rutschman had to heal an injury and then get up to speed in the minors.
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In 2021, at only 20 years old, Rodriguez hit .347 in High-A and AA ball, stealing 21 bases and knocking 17 HRs in only 291 at-bats. This year, with the Mariners, he got off to a Rutschman-like start, batting only .136 through his first 44 at-bats. Then he got hot, and by June, he had lifted his average to .270, stolen 17 bases and hit eight homers. He’s looking like a true game-breaker.
Online auction bidding is following J-Rod’s on-field momentum. And his 2019 Bowman Chrome is where the action is.
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The various colors of the Refractor versions are bringing five-figure sums or close. Consider these prices paid at eBay in recent weeks:
• $23,501 on 46 bids for an autographed 2019 Bowman Chrome Red Shimmer graded BGS 9.5 (see chart). It was marked #4/5.
• $18,101 on 53 bids for another signed 2019 Chrome, this one a Gold Refractor. It’s marked #14/50 and also had a grade of BGS 9.5.
• $14,600 on 50 bids for another signed Gold Refractor. This one, marked #6/14, was also graded BGS 9.5.
• $11,100 on 39 bids for an Orange Shimmer Refractor version of Rodriguez’s signed 2019 Bowman Chrome. Marked #7/25, it carries a BGS 9.5 grade.
• $10,700 on 45 bids for another autographed Orange Shimmer (#22/25) that was graded BGS 9.5.
• $9,900 on 14 bids for a signed Gold Shimmer Refractor (not to be confused with the Gold Refractor). This one was graded PSA 10 and marked #12/50.
Rodriguez’s Blue Refractor variation of his 2019 Bowman Chrome card was produced in an edition of 150, so it’s a little more common than those above. But it’s still selling for prices between $6,100 and $7,100 if in Gem-Mint condition.
Green Refractors are a little harder to come by (only 99 were made) but they’re actually selling for less. Three examples graded 9.5 or 10 sold within the range of $5,000 and $5,200 in recent weeks.
There are also Rodriguez deals to be found. They might not be Gem-Mint, or they might not be a 2019 rookie card. But if you spend the time browsing, you’ll find something you consider a steal.
We noted dozens of Rodriguez-signed cards issued by major manufacturers that sold for prices between $75 and $250. Consider these examples, each of which sold for only $80 even with fairly aggressive bidding (between 28 and 36 bids):
• An ungraded 2021 Panini Contenders autographed Prospect Ticket card.
• A signed 2020 Topps Future Cornerstones card marked #42/85 and graded PSA 9,
• An autographed 2021 Bowman’s Best, ungraded but in top condition, per the photos with the listing.
We’re especially partial to the 2019 Topps Heritage card of Rodriguez.
Designed after Topps’s grey-bordered 1970 set, it features the word “Power” in the upper-right corner (instead of the team name) and a bold blue autograph on top of a game-action photo of young Rodriguez. One example of the card brought $225; two others sold for $200 and $150. Only 15 were made.