Monday, June 12, 2017

Checking In On A Dodgers Prospect

The subject of last year's edition of "Ode To A Dodgers Prospect" was Walker Buehler. Last year's post was fairly simple to make because Buehler was on the DL after getting Tommy John Surgery shortly after being drafted in 2015. The key details to state back then were about his Vanderbilt career and how he was expected to perform once he came back.

Well it's been a year since then and Buehler has indeed come back. I thought it'd be fun to revisit how the Dodgers righty has fared since then. Also I thought it'd be just as fun (or at least neat) to see if the cards I picked up of his for fairly cheap have gone up in price.


So the key change since the last time I talked about Buehler is that he has returned from rehab and has made up for lost time.

He started the 2017 season in extended Spring Training where there was a lot of excitement for the Vandy product's return. In this article by MiLB's Josh Jackson, Buehler stated that his key objective coming into the season was to see how he could beef up his fastball-curveball-changeup combo. Sidenote, he also has a really good slider too (said to be in the 87-91 mph range according to Fangraphs' Eric Longenhagen).

Buehler's fastball post-TJS has been very steady (was in the mid-to-high 90's a lot in Spring Training) and has actually reached 100 mph at times this season, just ask the Tulsa Drillers themselves. That's impressive and a very positive sign as well.

The Dodgers are still very careful with him though. He's yet to pitch more than 100 pitches in a game and has been limited to around 70-80 pitches max per outing. Even with his short pitching leash, he can be downright dominant.


His best performance of the season so far is no doubt his outing on May 17th, Buehler made his second start in double-A (his first start was, okay), and flat out dominated. According to MiLB's Sam Dykstra, he threw 68 pitches (almost nice) and struck out NINE batters in three and two-thirds innings. Imagine how much more of a force he could be when he builds up more body strength and can go on even later in games.

His appearances after that didn't feature nearly as many K's, but he's slowly started being stretched out more from barely four innings to five full innings.


Doing research for this post has brought up a lot of rumors circulating about Buehler possibly being brought up to the big leagues by the end of the season. The Dodgers project to use up all of their starting pitching depth by next Thursday and bringing Buehler up in a relief role to speed up his development (ala Carson Fulmer) is an option.

If Buehler starts in the big leagues, I can see him being on a strict innings limit that forces Roberts to pull him in the midst of the no-no. Stealing Home will angrily drunk tweet about that I'm sure.

Whether or not that happens remains to be seen but with the innings limit the Dodgers have placed on Buehler from the start of the season, there is a window of opportunity to get a cup of coffee in the big leagues this September, then really make a case for himself as a frontline starter next year. He's got the pitches and polish to succeed. The question is his health (remember, he is still a Dodger) and his stamina.

Alright, now for the card centered portion of this post.

So last year I picked up three certified Walker Buehler autographs. Not really as investments, but more like as a long term project to see how prices fluctuate for an elite prospect that's not a Yankee.


Let's start with the standard, the Bowman Chrome autograph. This also happens to be the refractor version BTW. I purchased this for $7 (shipping fees not included) because Buehler hadn't yet returned from Tommy John surgery. What are they going for now?


Well a few months ago they were in the $20-25 range but according to the even more recent eBay listings, they've sold for north of $30. That May 17th performance really boosted the value of these puppies (I assume). Either way, my buy low strategy was a success here. At worst the card is now worth triple what I got it for, and at best it's worth quadruple what I got it for. WIN!


Now here's the other card I picked up last year, this Bowman's Best Walker Buehler autograph (base version). I picked up two for like $7 off of COMC last year (one was shipped off to Night Owl Cards). Making this like $4 (the other one was dinged).


The prices for this one are largely inconsistent. I mean, just look at the last two completed listings there. For the most part the average comes out to anywhere between $4-5. I haven't lost money on this, but no real big gains here except for a few nickels. On the bright side, these are now going for $10+ on COMC, so... yeah. You're welcome Greg.

In retrospect I really should've picked up an unlicensed Panini autograph just to see how the prices on those cards fluctuate too. These two are both licensed Dodgers cards, which has an effect (albeit a small one) on their values.

But these two autographs have presented a very clear conclusion. Chrome is king. Buy Bowman Chrome autographs for cheap, they'll pay off better in the long run if the player has a rebound. And if they rebound on a big market team, $$$!!! Don't bother with the non-Bowman Chrome stuff like Best or Inception or any of that, Chrome is king.

And no, these cards are not for sale. Buehler is one of my favorite prospects. Go away.

As always thanks for stopping by and take care :).

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