Monday, September 21, 2015

Collecting the Durham Bulls: Blake Snell

This year marked the fifth time that a player on the Durham Bulls won the Baseball America Minor League Player of the Year when Blake Snell won the award.  Previous winners included Jeremy Hellickson, Delmon Young, Rocco Baldelli, and Andruw Jones.  The recipient of the prestigious award this year compiled a 15-4 mark with a 1.41 ERA and 163 strikeouts in 134 innings split between three levels of the Minors.  Snell was also named the USA Today Minor League Player of the Year.

For a high profile prospect, Snell actually has a fairly limited array of cards available to collectors.  His first cards appeared in Bowman products back in 2011.  I was lucky enough to land a copy of his Bowman Chrome autograph out of a pack of retail I bought at my local Target.  At the time I pulled the card I was fairly happy, but just simply filed the card away as a Rays prospect to keep my eyes on for the future.  Snell was a first round pick, but has not appeared on any top prospect lists with Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, nor MLB.com since that time.  Here's a look at my Bowman Chrome autograph....



The popularity and prices of Snell cards have risen dramatically over the last few years in spite of the fact that some of the biggest prospecting writers have not given Snell not press.  His Bowman Chrome autograph is now regularly selling for more than $20, some even pushing close to $30.  He has a few unlicensed autographs from Panini which sell for slightly less.  However, if you are looking to add in some Snell cardboard there are some nice looking base cards out there for collectors to add to their collections.  


Since he is in the 2011 Bowman set there are loads of parallels with all sorts of different serial numbers available.  Some are cheap, some are not.  I actually like his mini card which appeared in the 2013 Bowman set along with all the aforementioned parallels.  Snell also has a 2013 Topps Pro Debut base card which features him with the Rays Appy League affiliate in Princeton.  

I am guessing that Snell will start off the 2016 season in Triple A with the Durham Bulls, but his stay could be short.  I would also guess that Snell's profile as a prime time prospect will increase over the off season.  While it might be easy to speculate that Snell's cards could push even higher, I suspect that he might actually start to appear in 2016 products which might actually slide the prices backwards when he finally has a few more cards available to collectors.

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