Greetings, fellow prospectors.
In case you hadn't yet seen them, the solicitation information for 2011 Bowman Chrome has been released to the public. Here are links to the sell sheets and checklists:
I was glad to see that several of the prospects I'd hoped would finally have their first Bowman Chrome cards are on here. However, there are others who I know would be popular to sell and collect that still have yet to appear in Bowman Chrome as autographs (or in some cases, even a base card). They are:
1) Matt Moore (Rays). He had a Bowman Chrome base card two years ago, but this kid would have been a definite boon to this product as an autograph. He led the minors in strikeouts two years in a row. I'm starting to see a pattern here with popular Rays prospects. In 2006, Jeremy Hellickson got a base card, but it took five whole years for him to get an autograph in Bowman Chrome. Likewise in 2007, Desmond Jennings had been given the same treatment. What's even more perplexing is that Moore shares a dual autograph with Royals' prospect Mike Montgomery in Topps Pro Debut, so clearly Topps has signed him to a contract. What gives here?
2) Eric Hosmer (Royals). If you saw this 2011 Bowman Chrome autograph checklist, you would have noticed several players in it who were formerly exclusive to Razor for three years, back in 2008. Case in point - Brett Lawrie, Jordan Lyles, Aaron Hicks, Ethan Martin and Reese Havens. So, I can only assume Hosmer is not yet under contract to Topps. If not, that's just a silly mistake, bottom line.
3) Casey Kelly (Padres). Another former Razor prospect, he is the top pitcher in their system, and should have been included in some capacity.
4) Carlos Martinez (Cardinals). Topps did include a Carlos Martinez in this checklist, but the wrong one (they chose 27 year old from the Nationals' system). The right Martinez is a fireballer in the Cardinals' system, and arguably the top international prospect at this time.
5) Jonathan Singleton (Phillies). Topps gave him autographs in both Bowman Platinum and Bowman Sterling last year, so why, pray tell, is he yet to have one in here? Go figure that one out and get back to me.
6) Yorman Rodriguez (Reds). Topps continues to perplex us. He had a retail-exclusive autograph in 2011 Bowman, so where is he here?
7) Pat Corbin (Diamondbacks). Another one who had an autograph in Bowman Platinum, but nothing since. One of AZ's best pitchers, he deserved to be included.
Honorable mentions - Jacob Petricka (White Sox), Matt Szczur (Cubs), Xander Bogearts (Red Sox), Garrett Richards (Angels)
Now that's out of the way, let me give the pros and cons of the product itself.
1) I would give the prospect autograph set itself pretty high marks on the whole, although it's about 7-10 players too large. Save the large autograph checklist for Bowman Draft Picks. I'm hoping there won't be any redemptions, but we all know that's impossible. After all, the release date is only four months from now, so who has time, anyway? Highlights include Harper, Thon, Eovaldi, Lollis, Gould, Heredia, Sampson, Colome, Lyles, Colvin, McNutt, Ranaudo, Cole, Ranaudo, Banuelos, Hicks, Marte, Turner and Lawrie. That's about half of the entire checklist that should sell well, so that's a fairly good sign. We're assuming some of the green MLB rookies will have autographs as well, but this time Topps didn't clue us in who they would be. For all prospectors' sakes, I sincerely hope Michael Pineda will be one.
2) I was wishing Topps wouldn't crank up the presses like they did with 2011 Bowman, and if the serialization is any indication, it seems as though I got my wish. Prospect refractors numbered to 500 and prospect blue refractors numbered to 150 are good things. Naturally Topps won't clue us in how many veteran refractors were produced (they never have, to date), but I'm reasonably confident this means they aren't going overboard.
3) I like the concept of the 10th anniversary 2001 Bowman Chrome reprints. However, whoever came up with the names of their parallels (Microfractors, Fusionfractors, Futurefractors) should be beaten severely. It would have been nice to have seen a sneek peak of what they will look like, though.
4) The USA 18U autographs. Always been a fan of these. I'm fairly certain they'll be stickers, though (they were last year). Here's hoping for a strong crop. I also like the redemptions for a complete set of 18U cards, especially the parallels. While they won't be as desired as the autographs, it's a nice addition this year.
5) The Base prospect set is much stronger than last year's Bowman Chrome. While I don't intend to give away the major players, if you Google these names you'll find some definite potential here. Pay special attention to the last 30 names (191-220).
1) Reptetition, repetition, repetition. I don't have enough time (nor the drive) to list all the players who have had previous cards in Bowman Chrome (as well as Bowman and Bowman Draft Picks), but it's startling. In addition, both Luke Jackson (BCP124 and BCP219) and Randall Delgado (BCP203 and BCP220) have TWO base cards each in here. I certainly hope Topps corrects these errors in particular, but there are other major names (Arcia and Banuelos) as well as minor ones, who have worn out their welcome by appearing in previous Bowman products, and won't add to the popularity by being in here as well.
2) Why bring back the Bowman's Best insert set? And to give Harper another card (green background this time) seems like overkill, no matter how big of a seller he is. Was it popular in Bowman? Sure. But you can't seriously tell me people were clamoring for it to return here, because I won't believe you.
3) I didn't get it in 2005 Bowman Draft Picks, and I don't get it here. Why make a second 1 of 1 parallel set with the Canary Diamonds in addition to the Superfractors? And not to include it in the autograph set as well makes even less sense. This parallel might be popular in other Topps products, but I don't understand their significance in this one.
Overall, this product is a step up from 2011 Bowman's somewhat substandard checklist, and I do hope they don't crank the presses this time around. Not to mention I'm hoping Bryce Harper's 1st Bowman Chrome Autographs will NOT be redemptions, as his retail-inserted Bowman Autographs were. Keep in mind, folks, this information is all subject to change, and Topps has more than enough time to either improve the product, or screw it up.
Overall grade = B+.