by Phoenix Desertsong, Red Sox Crazy Fanatic
Unlike fellow Red Sox top prospect Triston Casas, Bobby Dalbec may be close to his Major League debut. In 2019, Dalbec did plenty of damage at Double-A Portland in the Atlantic League. His first 30 game stint was encouraging, hitting 7 home runs without embarrassing himself. Dalbec will be 25 in June 2020, so very soon the Red Sox will want to see what they really have in their top prospect. Like Casas, Dalbec has immense raw power, rated a 70 on the 20-80 scouting scale. Also Like Casas, Dalbec has a below average hit tool, meaning he doesn't really hit for average. Unlike Casas, he may never develop into more than a .250 hitter at the MLB level.
However, Dalbec has other things going for him. Dalbec has much more advanced plate discipline and tons of walks at Double-A. He has also been trimming his strikeout rate Which is another good sign. The only troubling thing so far is he walked very little on his promotion to Triple-A Pawtucket. That can partially be explained away by Dalbec potentially trying to prove himself at the minors most advanced level. He did show the power and didn't strike out more than he did at Portland.
The other plus with Dalbec perhaps is what will make him a much better real life player than may be ever reflected in his card prices. Casas may be a passable third baseman with his above average arm, but his future is likely as a slightly better than average first baseman on defense. On the other hand, Dalbec projects to be a better than average fielder with an excellent arm at the hot corner. Because he is likely much more versatile on defense, the Red Sox may be happy to just have him for his fielding ability and take any power he offers as a binus.
Obviously, Dalbec looks to be a nice useful player. But being on the doorstep of the major leagues with really only raw power, walk, and nice fielding skills to his credit, is there much potential for the hobby to embrace him?
Bobby Dalbec's key rookie card is 2016 Bowman Chrome Draft. While his auto is popular, it still sells for less than that of Single-A slugger Triston Casas. Is Dalbec undervalued, especially being so close to the majors? Or are hobby prospectors more intrigued by Casas' ceiling? Both have plenty of prospect hype, but Dalbec can likely help very soon at the MLB level. Considering you can find his base Chrome - and even the refractor - very recently in the dollar bin, he could be a nice player to hoard and flip very soon if that's what you'd like to do.
The big question is Dalbec ready for regular MLB duty. Many prospect evaluators Believe he has more room to grow. His Autos aren't super cheap, and there still is some prospect hype baked into thatorice. A lot has to do with how the Red Sox front office handles him. The red sox may not be the team he starts for in the near future, as the Red Sox may need to evaluate whether Dalbec is better off as a trade chip as they try to creatively rework their roster.
Of course, staying with the Red Sox may be good for his future, but if he can become a starter somewhere else and succeed, that’s even better for both Dalbec and his rookie cards. In any case, Dalbec seems to be very close to Major League action. Whether he becomes a backup corner infielder, a second-division starter (that is, for a below-average team), or an all-star is all up to how he fares once thrown into the MLB fire. His base Chrome would be my choice, although his auto is still cheap enough that if you believe he can carry his power, arm, and glove to a starting job somewhere, it’s worth a look.
by Phoenix Desertsong, Big Huge Red Sox Crazy Fan
Triston Casas is the type of baseball prospect that hobby prospectors salivate over. Many scouts believe that the Red Sox top prospect could develop into a middle of the batting order hitter. His Raw Power scouting grade from FanGraphs is a 70 with 80 potential - 80 being the top grade. His current in-game power grade is a 35 with a 65 potential.
As for results, his 137 wRC+ mostly at A-ball is fine, and just turning 20 and graduated to High-A ball, he still projects as at least an average Major League player. The big question with him is if his hit tool - ability to hit for average - will rise from the current 25 to the potential 50. The good news is he doesn’t strike-out a ton for a young power hitter and he does take some walks, so his profile is actually pretty good.
His key rookie card is the 2018 Bowman Chrome Draft Auto. The last raw one that sold on eBay was mid October 2019 for $49.99 plus $3.50 shipping. We’ll call it a $50 to $55 card. The cheapest you’ll find on eBay the night of this writing is $60.
There are a couple of other Bowman Chrome Draft autos of Casas that are selling, however, that include the Class of 2018 auto (the refractor numbered to 250) and the Draft Night auto (refractors numbered to 99 and gold refractors numbered to 50). These are attractive targets because there are simply so few of them. The class of 2018 refractor auto you can find for about $40 plus shipping. The draft night auto you’ll be lucky to find for $85 - that comp is already graded PSA 10.
As a collector, I actually favor the serial numbered autos, but my opinion is that the refractors of the 2018 Bowman Chrome Draft auto are the best investment for ROI. That’s because it’s his official 1st Bowman card and the card with the biggest market. That being said, having already graded copies of extremely limited edition cards is a nice “go for broke” strategy. If you want to play it safe, there’s the non-auto 2018 Bowman Chrome Draft which you can find in high grade for $15-20.
Personally, I’d play it safe with Casas for the time being. Yes, he is the #1 Red Sox prospect, but he just hit .254 at A-ball. Yes, his batting eye is decent and he made noise when he did make contact. I need to see more progress before I would invest in his future, outside of maybe some raw Chrome 1st Bowman cards or colored parallels of his base Bowman Draft card.
All of these points about buying and selling sports cards are just my own informed opinions. They should NOT be taken as professional investment advice. Always do your own research, as the card market can shift drastically without much notice. Remember, this is a hobby, so you must be prepared to be stuck holding any cards you collect.
Transparency notice: As of this writing, I currently own no Triston Casas cards, but may purchase some Chrome base cards or colored parallels purely for Personal Collection purposes.
by Phoenix Desertsong, Sports Nut
While not eligible for my Junk Wax Dynasty series, Rich Garces himself did in fact begin his career in the infamous era of overproduction for sports cards. Fortunately, or unfortunately, for Garces, setup men don't get much love at all in the sports card hobby. Who they do get love from are the sports fans, and that's what matters most, right?
As 1999, Garces' breakout year, was my first full year following Major League baseball and my hometown Red Sox, his remarkable performances stand out in my memory.
Rich Garces and his Early Career
Garces actually had two cups of coffee with the Minnesota Twins in 1990 and 1993. He certainly didn't embarrass himself, but the Twins never really gave him a chance. But because of his decent cuppa in 1990, Donruss, Fleer Ultra, Upper Deck, Bowman, Stadium Club, and Topps all gave him a rookie card. Topps even named him a Future Star. Despite Topps having a terrible track record with those Future Star predictions, they were actually somewhat correct in this case.
The Twins released Garces in October 1994 and he caught on with the Chicago Cubs in 1995. Remarkably, he pitched fairly well in 7 games, before being put on waivers and claimed by the Marlins. He didn't pitch so well for them. So, he would be released by the Florida team and find his way to the Red Sox.
Rich Garces and the Red Sox (1996 to 1998)
In 1996, Garces got his first real taste of the major leagues after impressing at AAA. It wasn't pretty, but he managed to post 0.4 WAR. He certainly didn't embarrass himself. The performance was good enough for the Pacific Card Company to name him one of their Gems of the Diamond for the 1997 Pacific Prisms set. Unfortunately in 1997, Garces pitched very little at the major league level and was roughly replacement level when he did. But, his spectacular results at AAA prompted the Red Sox to give him another chance.
Garces was actually not too bad in 1998 with the Red Sox. While he posted unimpressive numbers in AAA, he got his chance in MLB. He was pitching in one of the biggest years of offense that baseball has ever seen. Garces actually posted a career high 0.7 WAR with a solid 3.33 ERA in 30 games. Of course, like had happened so much already to Garces, he found himself released at the end of the season. Of course, the Sox would change their minds and resign him.
Rich Garces as a Premiere Setup Man
Garces actually spent a good chunk of the 1999 season at Triple-A being dominant. It would take the Sox a bit to realize that keeping him down was probably stupid. When he finally came up to stay, the portly Garces was already a fan favorite. He would respond with his best performance yet for a playoff bound Red Sox team.
Particularly astonishing about Garces was his ability to stifle left-handed batters even as a right-handed pitcher. Despite not having much of a fastball, Garces made a living as a relief pitcher with a sharp curve ball and splitter. That splitter would be his bread and butter pitch at his peak.
Despite his 1.55 ERA in 1999, it would not be his career year. Despite an ERA of 3.25 in 2000, Garces was actually much better, posting a 2.0 WAR (Wins Above Replacement) according to Baseball Reference in 64 games that season. Whether you believe in WAR or not, his 2.0 mark along with his 1.7 WAR in 1999 is actually a fair representation of his actual value to those Red Sox teams.
Somewhat tragically for the hobby, there were no major card releases for Garces in either 1999 or 2000. We'd have to wait for 2001 Topps and Topps Chrome to collect Garces in a mainstream release again. He did have a couple of minor league cards and a 2000 Red Sox Photocard.
The Twilight of Rich Garces' Career
For the rest of his career, Garces was a decent, if unspectacular middle reliever. Even in 2001 for the Red Sox, he wasn't quite the same, although he was worth 1.1 WAR in 62 games. After a dreadful showing in 2002, Garces was done in Major League Baseball, although he attempted a couple comebacks before retiring as a player to become an independent league pitching coach.
Thanks for the memories, El Guapo!
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