Despite not having a single professional baseball at-bat under his belt, Yankees’ top prospect, Jasson Dominguez, has seen his baseball card prices skyrocket well into the thousands.
After signing with the Yankees for $5.1 million out of the Dominican Republic in 2019, Dominguez quickly became one of baseball’s most highly regarded prospects. The 18-year-old has endearingly earned the nickname “The Martian” from Yankees fans because of his freakish strength, above-average speed, and ability to hit from both sides of the plate.
Dominguez’s much anticipated professional debut was delayed with the 2020 Minor League Baseball season’s cancellation due to COVID-19, which has only fueled the hype train even more.
As fans have waited for “The Martian’s” debut, Bowman has released multiple versions of Dominguez’s card, including his Bowman Chrome Autograph card, which sells for over $4,000 in its base version. More limited versions like the Gold Refractor /50 has already seen sales of over $20,000 on eBay.
The appeal to the Bowman Prospect cards for many collectors is the speculatory aspect of purchasing a card. While Dominguez is the most extreme example imaginable as a prospect who has yet to even play a minor-league game, the vast majority of the prospects whose cards are included in Bowman Chrome or Bowman Draft packs are teenagers or in their early 20s. Purchasing a card is almost like buying a share in that player, but with prospects, everybody is trying to find the next Mike Trout.
Mike Trout’s 1/1 Superfractor stole the headlines when it sold for nearly $4 million, but even Trout’s Gold Refractor /50 has fetched more than $200,000. If Dominguez were to hypothetically follow a similar career arc to Trout, his card, even at the high prices it is at now, would obviously be an excellent investment; at one time, Trout’s cards were even cheaper than Dominguez’s.
The tricky part is that nobody truly knows what the future holds. How many times has a top draft pick or top prospect fizzled out even after some phenomenal minor league seasons? As you read that, several names probably popped into your mind of players who infamously didn’t meet expectations.
“When you look at it from the outside, it does seem wild that people are willing to pay astronomical prices for an unproven player,” Susan Lulgjuraj, former Marketing and Communications Manager at Topps, said in a Forbes interview. “There are many who consider themselves ‘prospectors.’ They buy Bowman cards of prospects in hopes the player will blossom and become the next star.”
While Dominguez has all the tools a player could want and a bright future ahead, Yankees Senior Director of Player Development, Kevin Reese, even believes the hype around Dominguez is a bit extreme.
“I don’t really think it’s fair,” Reese said. “He’s super talented, but he hasn’t played a game here yet, so it’s hard to help him manage those expectations because he’s not gonna show up tomorrow and perform like a Mike Trout or Aaron Judge.”
Still just a teenager, it is likely going to take some time for Dominguez investors to see their investment’s full reward even if the switch-hitting outfielder performs at the level most expect. Most evaluators project that Dominguez will make his Major League debut in 2024 and will likely start this year in rookie-ball, which is below single-A.
Already one of the most expensive prospect cards on the market, it will be interesting to see how Dominguez’s highly anticipated debut will impact his cards’ value.