When it comes to The Hobby, prospecting is one of the few areas where you can make some serious money. All it takes is knowledge of the market, the ability to see a young kid’s potential, and money to start picking up as many cards of the player for as little as possible.
One good season in the Minors and/or a good month in September and suddenly those worthless cards you were saving up could turn into a gold mine, albeit a temporary one. It seems like no matter how great a player turns out to be, unless he is on an elite level, his cards never sell for what they once did.
Of course, like all gambles, there is a huge risk involved. For every Albert Pujols and Tim Lincecum there is a Cameron Maybin and Jay Bruce, two ridiculously overhyped prospects that have gone nowhere so far in their careers.
When Bruce made the Reds team in early 2008, he got off to an unbelievable start. Before cooling down, there was a point when there were over 20 cards of him on eBay with an asking price of $1,000 dollars or more. The same goes for Cameron Maybin after his super-hot ’08 September call-up.
There are even prospectors who purposely try to manipulate the market to sell off their stash of cards. It’s fairly common to see members of card-related forums “pimp their player” by posting constant updates on every game the particular player has done well in. Thankfully, collectors have started to pick up on these acts of desperation.
When I came back to collecting in 2007 I just could not comprehend why so many collectors were spending thousands of dollars on players who might never even make it to “The Show”. Others even went as far as stalking High School kids for autographs.
The truth is, there is a lot of money to be made in prospecting if you know what you’re doing. You’re looking at a guy who spent $40 dollars on “El Duque’s” rookie card and once thought Jose Cruz Jr. was ten times better than Ken Griffey Jr. so obviously I am not one of those guys.
As for the prospect side of The Hobby, last year we had Bowman, Bowman Chrome, Bowman Sterling, Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects, Tristar PROjections, Razor Signature, Razor Lettermen, Razor Metal, and Donruss Elite Extra Edition. It’s almost the end of the year and both Razor and Donruss/Panini have backed out of the prospect market.
If prospectors get really desperate, they could always buy Bowman Little League.