The 2006 baseball season will be remembered by collectors for its banner rookie crop as players such as Justin Verlander, Ryan Zimmerman, Jonathan Papelbon, Prince Fielder and Hanley Ramirez helped fuel card sales all summer long.
It may be early, but 2007 is also shaping up as a year with another strong rookie class, with multiple high-profile international stars making their debuts along with promising minor-league talent.
The most anticipated rookie is Daisuke Matsuzaka, who signed with Boston. His appearance alone will provide a huge boost for 2007 card sales. His memorabilia inserts in several late-issue 2006 products have already help drive sales of those products, with his 2006 Upper Deck World Baseball Classic Jersey priced at $300 and his Flair Showcase Stitches valued at $125.
Alex Gordon won Baseball America’s Minor League Player of the Year after hitting .325 with 29 home runs and 100 RBIs at Double-A Wichita. Gordon has already caused a stir in the hobby in 2006, as Topps mistakenly included his card with a rookie card logo in its Series One release. Sales for the full, intact card have reached more than $1,000 due to its unintended release and limited availability.
Other rookies collectors can expect to appear in the majors at some point during the season include Mike Pelfrey, Delmon Young, Kevin Kouzmanoff and Andy LaRoche. Pelfrey was a 2005 first-round pick for the New York Mets and rose through their system fast, making a few appearances for the big league late last season. His 2006 Bowman Sterling rookie #MPP is priced at $20.
Meanwhile, international collectors will also be chasing rookie cards of Akinori Iwamura and Kei Agawa. Iwamura was regarded as the best third baseman in Japan and is slated to start there for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Igawa was signed by the New York Yankees and will likely provide bullpen help this season.