San Francisco Giants Prospect Angel Villalona Suspect in Murder Case

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MLB.com is reporting that 19-year-old San Francisco Giants Prospect, Angel Villalona, who considered one of the top prospects of the franchise, has turned himself in to Dominican Republic authorities following the murder in La Romana, DR.

The shooting occurred on Saturday, September 19 around 11 PM local time, and the authorities have named Villalona as the prime suspect.

This year, Villalona hit .267 with 9 home runs, and 42 RBIs in 74 games with the San Jose Giants at the Class A Advanced level before a season ending injury in July. As a 16-year-old rookie, Villalona received a $2.1 million signing bonus, one of the largest ever at the time.

Villalona had a 2008 Bowman Chrome Prospect Autograph that has been an anchor for the set and one of the years more highly sought-after prospect cards. If convicted, this could really damper a once very bright and aspiring future.

Rookies and recent call-ups creating quite the buzz

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Prospectors and collectors alike love the adrenaline rush from the mid-season prospect call-up or the rookie who was invited out of camp making it big in their first season of play. This year’s crop of recent call-ups and rookies have not let us down. Like previous seasons, some of our favorites and some dark horses have been putting up huge numbers on their first blush with the show.

Not only have these huge starts resulted in immediate pay-off for their big league club, it has resulted in a large pay-off for prospectors who have been sitting on a large stash, waiting for the right time to sell. Let’s take a look at some of the players making a large splash today:

Rick Porcello – SP – Detroit Tigers (9-7, 4.36 ERA, 55 Ks)
This 20 year flame thrower made it to the bigs directly out of camp. His 2008 Bowman Chrome Draft and 2008 Donruss EEE Auto continue to be hot sellers. His prices have cooled off in the past few weeks, but there is still a monumental upside to Porcello.


Elvis Andrus – SS – Texas Rangers (.263 AVG, 4 HR, 20 SB, 42 R)
Another 20 year phenom making it on the everyday roster, the Rangers saw so much talent is Andrus they moved over perennial All-Star and Gold Glove winner Michael Young to 3B. His 2006 Bowman Chrome Prospect has been selling pretty steadily all season. Plan on buying on a few these to hold as he should have a permanent spot on the roster and possible All-Star roster.


Tommy Hanson – P – Atlanta Braves (6-2, 3.22 ERA, 46 Ks)
Considered by some as the crown jewel of the very talented Atlanta Braves prospect pool, Hanson has added some much needed stability to the shaky Braves rotation. Collectors were salivating at Hanson after he started off his young career 5-0 and was making headlines across the sports world. After his June call-up, price of his 2007 Bowman Chrome Prospect sky rocketed in anticipation and reached new heights after his hot start. His first certified auto was just released in the 2009 Topps Chrome set.


Gordon Beckham – 3B – Chicago White Sox (.314 AVG, 6 HR, 38 RBI, 18 2B)
It’s hard to believe that a little over a year ago Beckham was on the main stage at the College World Series, now he is in the lime light in Chicago, working on a ROY-type season. In the past weeks his cards have started to soar in price. His 2008 Bowman Chrome Draft Auto has seen a steady incline in price. These cards could hit all new highs as the White Sox make a push towards the post season and Beckham climbs higher in the ROY ballets.


Andrew McCutchen – OF – Pittsburgh Pirates (.292 AVG, 7 HR, 32 RBI, 5 3B)
It seems every year prospectors talk about when McCutchen was going to be brought up to help the struggling Pirates organization. Consistently ranked Number 1 by Baseball America in the Pirates Organization since he was drafted, McCutchen finally got called up. The Pirates haven’t been disappointed. McCutchen’s 2004 Bowman Chrome AFLAC and 2005 Bowman Chrome Draft have seen nice gains as McCutchen has started to adjust to every day play in the bigs. He has a great shot at a NL ROY award and you could see a nice spike in sales if he would win.


Derek Holland – P – Texas Rangers (4-7, 5.60 ERA, 68 Ks)
This 25th round pick of the Rangers made his way to the starting rotation after his second full year in the minors. His 2008 Bowman Chrome Draft Auto has been steadily increasing with each start. Holland could be a number 1 starter in the coming years.


Josh Reddick – OF – Boston Red Sox (.313 AVG, 1 HR, 3 2B in 4 games)
With only a few games under his belt, Reddick has made a huge splash in the hobby with his over night success at the plated. His 2008 Bowman Chrome Draft Auto almost doubled over night. I would consider these a strong hold if you haven’t already sold.


Matt Wieters – C – Baltimore Orioles (.269 AVG, 3 HR, 14 RBI)
Easily the most anticipated prospect in all of MLB coming into the 2009 season. The Paul Bunyan-esk Weiters has got off to slow start in Baltimore but is showing leaps and bounds of adjustment and improvement to the game. Sales have remained steady on his 2007 Donruss EEE and 2009 SPx Auto.

Foursome of Anticipated Prospects Find Their Way to the Show

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On Wednesday, a foursome of high-talent prospects, landed themselves on big-league rosters. Some of these arrivals have been very highly anticipated and publicized as to when these prospects would actually break the 40-man rosters, so now it seems as if those questions have been answered.

After being nearly unhittable in 11 games with the Triple-A Gwinnett Braves, Tommy Hanson posted a 3-3 record, 1.49 ERA, and had unbelievable 90 KOs through 66.1 IP. Signed by the Braves as a 22nd round pick in the 2005 Draft, Hanson has been considered a top prospect in both the Braves organization and all of minor league baseball. He was the 2008 Arizona Fall League MVP and was named to their All-Prospect Team. Expect to see some big jumps in the price on his 2007 Bowman Chrome RC.

Andrew McCutchen, former first round (11th overall) selection in 2005 of the Pirates, and former AFLAC All-American, has found his way to the Pirates roster after the trade of Nate McClouth to the Atlanta Braves. Considered a five-tool player (hitting for average, hitting for power, baserunning, throwing ability, and fielding abilities), McCuthchen has been in the spotlight since being drafted out of high school. He spent all of last year with Triple-A Indianapolis posting a .283 average with 9 HR, 50 RBI, and 34 SB in 135 games. This year with Indianapolis he has posted a .303 average with 4 HR, 20 RBI, and 10 SB in 49 games. Keep an eye on his 2004 Bowman Chrome RC and 2005 Topps Chrome Update Auto RC and expect to see huge jumps in prices.

After blazing through the White Sox farm system, their number one draft pick in 2008, Gordon Beckham is getting his chance in the bigs. Beckham, who last year at this time, was trying to help his Georgia Bulldogs win an NCAA Championship, has seemingly made an easy transition to the next level. He spent 38 games at Double-A affiliate Birmingham before his call-up to the Triple-A Charlotte Knights. For the season, Beckham was batting .326, with 4 HR, 25 RBI, 23 2B, in 45 games. Beckham’s 2008 Bowman Chrome Prospect Auto RC has been on the hot list since it was first released. Expect to see a slight rise with the hype around his call-up.

Unlike the other three prospects, Luke Hochevar has already got his feet wet in the bigs. Hochevar hasn’t had the best-of-luck at the MLB level, posting a career 6-15 record, 5.63 ERA, and 80 KOs through 153.1 IP over 26 games. Hochever, the former first round, first overall pick of the Royals in 2006, started the season in KC, but was demoted to Triple-A Omaha after just two starts. At Omaha, Hochevar has seemed to have found his stuff, posting a 5-1 record, 1.50 ERA, 36 KOs, through 48 IP over 8 games. Hochevar’s 2007 Bowman Chrome Prospect Auto RC still can be found pretty cheap, especially for a former number 1 pick. His track record isn’t very strong, but he is showing the potential that Royals need.

Prospect Watch: Iowa Cubs Jake Fox

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63 hits, 17 HR, 50 RBIs, .423 BA in 40 games. That stat line sounds like it came from a video game rather than the actual statistics of the Triple-A Iowa Cubs, of the Pacific Coast League, Jake Fox. Fox, who is in his 6th season for the Cubs organization out of the University of Michigan, seems to be in an zone unmatched by most, already racking up two Pacific Coast League Player of the Week honors this season. A converted infielder/outfielder from his natural position as a catcher, could have an immediate impact on the Chicago Cubs, who are in major need of a catalyst to get their season turned around. Also, the Chicago Cubs could consider using Fox as a DH as they enter inter-league play next month.

Jake FoxFox’s numbers have not gone unnoticed by collectors and prospectors alike. His 2003 Upper Deck Prospect Premieres Jake Fox RC Auto has climbed from a tossed aside common to gradable keepsake. He has even found himself on our recent hot list for the month of June. Not a bad investment for anyone who is looking for the potential to flip a few cards. The large market Cubs fanbase might pay top dollar for this card if Fox gets the nod and is called up. Fox also has a handful of other cards produced over the past few years, but his 2003 Upper Deck Prospect Premieres will easily be the most sough after.

Be sure to keep your eyes on Fox as he could make a push towards winning a Triple Crown in the PCL. It’s hard to imagine sustaining his numbers for an entire season, but if he can, and I hope he can, it will be very fun to watch and witness.

Top 20 Bowman Chrome Prospect Autos of All-Time

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Without a doubt, each year the most highly anticipated release belongs to the Bowman Chrome series. Not only for their brilliant designs, unmatched prospect checklist, multiple refractor parallels, but for the prospect autograph set. These cards allow collectors to get a little bit closer to some of their favorite prospects by providing them a Topps-certified, on card, autograph of the prospect. Some of these prospect autographs have proved to pay off very large dividends to the collectors. Here is a small glance at our favorite Bowman Chrome Prospect Auto’s of all-time who are now in the big’s, paying off their collectors those big dividends.

  1. 2001 Bowman Chrome Albert Pujols RC Auto
  2. 2002 Bowman Chrome David Wright RC Auto
  3. 2002 Bowman Chrome Joe Mauer RC Auto
  4. 2005 Bowman Chrome Ryan Braun RC Auto
  5. 2006 Bowman Chrome Evan Longoria RC Auto
  6. 2003 Bowman Chrome Hanley Ramirez RC Auto
  7. 2005 Bowman Chrome Jacoby Ellsbury RC Auto
  8. 2004 Bowman Chrome Felix Hernandez RC Auto
  9. 2005 Bowman Chrome Ryan Zimmerman RC Auto
  10. 2003 Bowman Chrome Kevin Youkilis RC Auto
  11. 2007 Bowman Chrome Tim Lincecum RC Auto
  12. 2006 Bowman Chrome Justin Upton RC Auto
  13. 2003 Bowman Chrome Brian McCann RC Auto
  14. 2006 Bowman Chrome Clayton Kershaw RC Auto
  15. 2006 Bowman Chrome Jon Lester RC Auto
  16. 2005 Bowman Chrome Justin Verlander RC Auto
  17. 2003 Bowman Chrome Nick Markakis RC Auto
  18. 2007 Bowman Chrome Joba Chamberlain RC Auto
  19. 2006 Bowman Chrome Alex Gordon RC Auto
  20. 2008 Bowman Chrome Matt LaPorta RC Auto

Prospect Watch: Frisco RoughRiders Julio Borbon

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After a lost 2007 season due to injury, Julio Borbon has been back to full stride in 2008. After a mid-summer call up to the Firsco RoughRiders of the Double-A Texas League, Borbons numbers have been scorching hot. Prior to the hop to Double-A, he played 66 games for Cal League’s Bakers field, Borbon batting .306 with 36 SB and 20 2B. 52 games at Frisco, Borbon has batted .326 with 14 SB and 10 2B, including going 17 for his last 44, while helping Frisco push to the Texas South Conference title.

In the 2007 draft, he was taken in the supplemental round by the Texas Rangers as the 35th overall pick. Borbon has all of the amenities of big-league lead-off hitter. Amazing speed, minimal strikeouts, and great fielding make him an ideal threat next year for the Rangers. He may never poses the power that some of today’s great lead-off guys have, however, his great plate discipline will win him far more battles than the long ball can.

Prospect Watch: Kila Ka’aihue – larger than life

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It’s been a mere 20 game since Kila Ka’aihue has been called up to AAA Omaha Royals, but he has made every game and at bat worth it. He is hitting .357 with 8 HR, 14 RBI, and a 1.179 OPS since his call-up.

His recent power surge has also affected the sale price of his cards. His 2005 Bowman Chrome RC has been on fire lately. If you are in the market for a new prospect to watch, Kaaihue is a great one to bank on.