Another week of Spring Training is in the books, and another week of #StoxTrends is here!
Instead of highlighting five players whose Bowman Chrome autos increased like last week, this week it will be five pitchers, five hitters, and one “wild card” at the end.
Sometimes, there were multiple sales in a day. On the graphs, the price listed is an average of that day, instead of only one sale (if applicable).
When calculating the percent increases, I used an average of the first two sales (or three, if there was more than two in one day) and most recent two sales (as long as there was that many), in case there was a discrepancy between two sales occurring on the same day or a day apart.
Unfortunately in Spring Training, players’ per week stats are not readily available like they would be during the regular season, so it will be a combination of their first two week statistics. An exception to that is for pitchers, as they would have only pitched once this week.
The good news: Opening Day is on March 28th for all 30 teams (A’s and Mariners open in Japan on the 20th).
Before getting into it, today at 4 ET on SlabStox Instagram is our weekly livestream. Come chat baseball, prospects, trends, and cards with us!
#StoxTrends: Spring Training Week 2
3/3/2019 – 3/9/2019
10. Victor Robles – Washington Nationals (+11.54%)
Suggested by: @chitown_sportscards
What he did:
Finally, after all the injuries, we *should* be able to see Robles play regularly at the big league level.
So far in spring through 21 ABs, Robles has done .381 AVG, 1 HR, 3 SB, and a 1.053 OPS.
If he can tap into some above average power, his cards will see a substantial increase. He is a center fielder with a ton of speed and a great hit tool. Get that power to play and he is a true five-tool player who will shine in DC along side Juan Soto.
Unfortunately, Robles didn’t have many Bowman Chrome autos sell over the last week, so it is hard to see a true trend. The two that did sell yielded a positive percent increase and with how well he’s been playing, he makes the #StoxTrends this week.
I don’t own any Bowman Chrome autos of Robles, but I made sure to at least get one Robles auto, so I grabbed a Heritage rookie auto last summer. The low values are only attributable to prospect fatigue with making the top 10 four years in a row.
If he produces, it won’t matter. He is still only 21. Robles for NL ROY?
9. Jesus Luzardo – Oakland Athletics (+12.28%)
What he did:
After putting together a solid Week 1, Luzardo landed his first Spring Training start of the year on March 5th.
Over 2.2 IP, he logged 0 ER, 0 H, 2 BB, 6 K. Even with losing control of the fastball at times, he was still able to get six strikeouts.
The increase to around $40 a base auto is the highest they’ve ever reached (other than a few outliers). As many know, I have had and still have a lot of Jesus Luzardo autos. Because of that, I am not going to tell you to run out and buy them, as Nate and I never want to try to prop up a certain market. Luzardo was among one of the top performing pitchers this week, so that is why he is included. For those wanting to hear my investment outlook on him, I will offer it.
I love the kid. I wouldn’t have bought 72 Bowman Chrome autos ranging from Base raw to Orange PSA 10s if I didn’t like him; I think that is obvious. With that being said, I bought in around July of last year, when his prices were much lower. He is right up there with Whitley as the best pitching prospect in baseball. When his command is on, he is absolutely dominant with his fastball showing sink. Outside of that, he’s got a plus changeup and an above average curveball (I think it is closer to plus than above average).
At 3:05 ET today, he gets his second start of Spring Training. If he tosses up another 2 to 3 IP start with 4 to 6 Ks, you can bet on these going up to 45 to $50 a base. He is already on the verge of starting 2019 in the bigs, and another dominant start will force the A’s management to get him into the rotation sooner rather than later.
8. Pete Alonso – New York Mets (+12.63%)
What he did:
Pete struggled this week; for some reason, he had zero stolen bases.
However, in 28 ABs, he’s put up, .423 AVG, 3 HR, and a 1.349 OPS, so I guess I can cut him some slack.
He’s been ripping the cover off the ball. Because of that, his base autos have jumped to around $93. In Nate’s “Who’s on First?” series, he stated Alonso’s got the best chance to be the next star first baseman. Alonso is following through and producing the goods to achieve that.
While he definitely has the potential to eclipse $100 if he dominates out of the gate in the big leagues (or even continues this through spring), I still find it tough to invest $100 into a first baseman. If he doesn’t consistently produce at the highest level (Freeman, Rizzo range), I can’t see him staying up there. With that being said, if anyone is going to hang up with the big boys, it is going to be Alonso. It could definitely happen; he could produce enough to pass $100. Personally, the probability isn’t high enough to drop a Benjamin on him.
7. Cristian Pache – Atlanta Braves (+15.95%)
Suggested by: @macs_sports_cards
What he did:
In 19 ABs, the 20-year-old center fielder posted a .421 AVG, 2 HR, 1 SB, and a 1.371 OPS with both of those home runs coming this week.
I must say, I had my doubts about his offensive production, but he’s came out strong so far. I will be keeping an eye on him during the first month of full-year ball to see if this continues. If it does, his prospect status automatically shoots up.
Personally, I would wait until after a month or two to see if Pache has truly added extra-base power to his game with a league average hit tool. If he has, I would consider him a hard buy. If he struggles to consistently do that, it will cause problems in the future. While I am not buying yet, I can see why someone would be intrigued to grab one in hopes this power surge continues into the season.
6. Forrest Whitley – Houston Astros (+16.79%)
What he did:
In a relief appearance this week, Whitley went 3 IP, 1 ER, 2 H, 1 BB, 6 K, while striking out the side in the 7th inning.
Just like Luzardo, I have been through the ringer with buying and selling Whitley’s for around two years now, while keeping some because I think he has true ace potential. Whitley was the prospect Nate convinced me to go all in on to start my card collecting/investing back up. Without Whitley, who knows if I’d be writing this blog post.
Moving into Whitley’s investment outlook, he can be the next great young pitcher. He has the best combination of top-end pitches in the minors. Not only are his top-end pitches crazy, so are the rest of them. He has a legit four plus pitch arsenal, with a 70 FB, 60 CB, 60 slider, 65 change-up. His command is a little lower than Luzardo’s, but it shouldn’t be too big of a deal because his stuff is so good he’ll be getting a lot of swing and misses.
I’d advise to own one Forrest Whitley base auto at least. I regret selling my three Walker Buehler autos (luckily I have some rookie autos), and I won’t make the same mistake twice.
5. Ian Anderson – Atlanta Braves (+21.71%)
What he did:
The 20-year-old righty went 2 IP, 0 ER, 1 H, 0 BB, 2 K in a relief appearance against the Yankees.
Dang, are the Braves lucky or what. So many quality arms in that system between Mike Soroka, Kyle Wright, Ian Anderson, Touki Toussaint, Bryce Wilson, and the list keeps going.
I never looked into Ian Anderson as an investment, but I wish I did. He’s got great strikeout potential, but his command is lacking. He went over 10 K/9 each of the last two seasons but also averaged around 4 BB/9. Honing in on the command will be key, and if he does, he will jump into the top 20 before next season. He has three above average to plus pitches which will take him far.
I’d keep a close eye on Anderson through his first couple starts this year. If he is hovering around one walk or so per start, I would strongly consider picking one up if they settle around $25 during the season.
4. Nico Hoerner – Chicago Cubs (+24.12%)
What he did:
Nico got pulled up for a couple games and got six at-bats, five hits, a home run, and a 2.722 OPS.
That was enough to have 19 base autos sell over the week, the most out of any player in this week’s #StoxTrends.
I remember after the 2018 MLB draft, Nathan and I were texting about some of the guys we were going to grab in the upcoming Bowman Draft release. I told Nate I was going to buy all the Nolan Gorman autos, and Nate told me he was going to buy all the Nico Hoerner. Neither of those two things happened because their prices out of the gate were more than we were willing to pay.
After this week, Nico base autos are grabbing around $50. We like Nico a lot as an advanced college bat, but the only time he has played so far was in the Arizona Fall League and the couple spring games. Much like Ian Anderson, keep a close eye on Nico Hoerner as full-season ball starts.
If he starts to consistently put up good numbers, they will probably be around $70 by that time. You may pay $20 more, but at least you know the small sample size is not a fluke, and your risk is mitigated.
3. Jack Flaherty – St. Louis Cardinals (+26.63%)
Suggested by: @zuckyscards
What he did:
Oh my, did Flaherty light it up this week. In his start, he went 4 IP, 0 ER, 2 H, 0 BB, 9 K, while striking out seven straight.
If anyone is reading this blog post and is truly looking to find a great buy right now, do yourself a favor and go grab a Flaherty Bowman Chrome base auto for $40 or under on eBay.
Yeah, he had a great Spring Training start, a lot of people do. However, Flaherty had an outstanding rookie season. Walker Buehler and Aaron Nola stole the show last year for 25-and-younger pitchers in the NL, but Flaherty had a few dominate months as well. To go along with the good months, he also had two below average months making his full season numbers look not as great
If Flaherty can cut down on the rough starts, he will be an ace at 23 to 24-years-old. He is almost there, and with one more year of development under his belt, I can see it happening. I’m kicking myself for selling my Blue 9.5/10 last August.
2. Noah Syndergaard – New York Mets (+35.62%)
What he did:
Well, it wasn’t pretty on Friday. Syndergaard went 4 IP, 3 ER, 6 H, 0 BB, but he also K’d 8.
He’s finally not injured and the velocity is up to 99 again.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Thor isn’t a prospect or rookie anymore. Well, he is still only 26, and at one point, his cards were insanely expensive ($170 raw in 2016). Only two have sold since February 27th, but it was enough to have a 35.62% increase in price.
The fact he isn’t injured and the velocity is there will make these keep creeping up as he adds regular season starts. Would I invest in him? Probably not. There is a ton of young talent out there for pitchers (25 and younger) that will get more publicity this year. Then again, if he can get back to Cy Young consideration, it would be worth it because he has massive K-potential.
TOP TRENDER OF THE WEEK
1. Keston Hiura – Milwaukee Brewers (+45.39%)
Suggested by: @luke.graphs.13
What he did:
In 22 ABs, Hiura hit for .273 AVG, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 1 SB, and put up a .976 OPS.
Hiura finally got it going this week, boosting his total Spring Training stats after struggling in Week 1. In his last two games, he has a home run in each.
These were a no-brainer all offseason and into March at $65 a pop. Now, you probably won’t see one for under $90. There was only one sale this week, but it grabbed $100 after his back-to-back games with a homer. If there were more sales (hopefully there are this upcoming week), we’d know if $100 base autos for Hiura will be the norm.
Yes, Nate and I are huge Brewers fans; we absolutely love Hiura. Except for Vlad Jr, Hiura has the best hit and power tool combo out of any prospect (Hiura has a 70 hit and a 65 power).
I think Hiura is going to put up a monster 2019 in the minors. It is unknown when he will be brought up to the Brewers since management wants him to get more at-bats and more second base reps because of the time missed with his elbow rehab last year. At some point this year, Hiura will be in the bigs (most likely a September call up with the re-signing of Moustakas).
For 90 to $100 a base auto, make sure you own one, even if you don’t want to hold till he hits the bigs.
THE WILD CARD
Chris Paddack – San Diego Padres (-4.58%)
What he did:
He absolutely destroyed the Athletics two days ago going 4 IP, 0 ER, 3 H, 0 BB, 7 K.
He made my honorable mentions last week, but this week it was time to write on him. Even though there has been no increase (pretty much hovering around $30 a base auto), he is an absolute stud, and I had to get him in here for you guys.
He’s racked up 14 Ks in 8.2 IP this spring, and I see no signs of his guy slowing down. He is 23 right now, and I imagine he’d see the bigs this year if not at the beginning, then in September.
Paddack has impeccable command. Last year between A+ and AA, he had under a 1 BB/9. Not only does he have great command, but he has two plus pitches in his fastball and change-up, and almost an above average curve. He has clearly has K-potential as well.
I am extremely excited to see how Whitley and Luzardo do this year, but Paddack is an absolute beast. After dominating the first two weeks of Spring Training and not seeing an increase in prices, now is the time. If you don’t have a Chris Paddack in your investment portfolio, go out and get one.
Previously on SlabStox: Prospect Profile: Nate Pearson
Next Week: #StoxTrends: Spring Training Week 3