Last year I wrote a polarizing piece on the prices of Jasson Dominguez cards. At the time, Jasson was a 17-year old with no professional baseball experience, yet his Bowman cards were skyrocketing. This wasn’t due to a large fan following but instead was a movement created by investors/flippers to snatch up all of this kid’s key cards just in case he becomes the next Mike Trout or better. The Jasson investors caught wind of my silly, little piece and went batshit crazy in the comments section.
Well, it’s been over a year now and Jasson, “The Martian”, now finally has some experience under his heavily Photoshopped belt. In 50 Minor League games, Jasson is hitting an impressive .254 with 5 home runs. He’s also been hit by pitches 5 times and was caught stealing 3 times. Again, this is just a kid and by the time he hits 20, he could be a monster. But, at 5,’10 and with puberty in the rear view mirror, he could be the another B+ hitter or worse.
There’s just no way I’d take a $100,000 shot at an unproven prospect’s cards, not now nor ever. That figure is small btw, just looking through eBay. Currently, someone is asking for a quarter of a million dollars for a Red Foil 2020 Bowman #’d to 5. Just think about the mindset of the seller or even worse, the potential buyer, if he ever manages to find one. What’s even worse is that 2020 Bowman is STACKED full of parallels so even a card numbered to /5 is still not all that rare when you think about it.
Aside from the possibility of Jasson one day being an average MLB player (or a bust), think of what other outcomes could come of this situation. He’s 18, rich, and full of life’s temptations that most normal folks know nothing of. He could easily go the way of Josh Hamilton or Matt Bush. Or he could permanently damage his pitching hand signing millions of Topps autographs the way Brien Taylor did. Okay, maybe it wasn’t Topps who ruined Brien’s career.
Maybe I’m just trying to save you. You see, after the 1997 World Series win by my team, the Marlins … I too fell for prospect hype. That Marlins team had a pitcher named Livan Hernandez, who at best, was slightly above average. But to my World Series winning eyes, he was amazing. Word started spreading during the playoffs of a mystery brother of Livan’s who was “much, much better”. By year’s end, Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez was signed to the New York Yankees.
To no one’s surprise, the entire collecting world was itching to pick up his rookie card. I passed on Bowman, now referred to as “Paper”, for some reason and instead waited for Bowman Chrome to drop. Once it did, I spent $65 on a box only to miss out on a single “El Duque” card. The following week, I got a call from my local card shop. Eric, the owner, told me to get to the shop ASAP or I would miss out on a card of a lifetime.
On payday, two days later, I drove as fast as I could in my 1986 Oldmobile with 265,000 miles to the card shop, which today is a Starbucks. As soon as I walked in, I was floored by what he showed me. In his hand, in a thick card holder, was a 1998 Bowman Chrome Refractor of “El Duque”, hand pulled by Eric himself. Remember, this is before the days of eBay. Back then, you had to work to find big cards.
At the end of the day, after negotiating, I left with the card and $50 less in my wallet. That’s roughly $85.00 in today’s market with inflation added in. Keep in mind I was 17 with a part-time job and a POS car to keep on the road. In 1998, to a teen with a life and a job, $50 was a lot of money. I still felt relieved in owning Hernandez’ premier rookie card, though, which was all the rage on the Beckett Hot List, back when that publication still mattered.
As you may recall, “El Duque” didn’t quite turn out as great as everyone had hoped. Right from the start, there were rumors of his birth certificate being forged. In 1998, we were led to believe that Hernandez was 29. At best, he was set to have 5-7 years of strong performances. Turns out, El Duque was 33 by the time he joined the Yankees. Unfortunately, despite one great year in 1999, El Duque flamed out in year 3 at the age of 36, as did my investment and the Oldsmobile.
I can only imagine how I would feel had I dropped $250,000 on another Yankees bust.