Saturday, April 3, 2010

Topps Pro Debut is a Big League Product

When it was announced that Topps would be the exclusive producer of Minor League Baseball trading cards for the 2010 season, I was a little skeptical. It is my firmly held belief, proven by experience, that the more companies there are competing in a free-market, the better the results. My worries deepened after Topps released their Baseball Series 1 in January, with some disappointing card designs.

Fortunately, Topps Pro Debut exceeded all of my expectations, and truly hit Minor League Baseball cards out of the park. As fond as I have grown for TriStar cards in the past few years, 2010 Topps Pro Debut may be the best designed and executed Minor League Baseball set ever.

The set offers cards of some of the best prospects in baseball, including Casey Kelly, Jesus Montero, Pedro Alvarez, Drew Storen and Brett Wallace. The photography is exceptional and the cards feature the same sleek and clean design as the 2010 Topps Major League cards.

Here is the 2010 Topps Pro Debut Casey Kelly...

But what really sets 2010 Topps Pro Debut a cut above any other recent Minor League baseball card set is the Futures Game relic cards. These cards boast enormous cuts of game-used jersey from the top prospects in the game and are a must have for any player collector.
Unfortunately, while the set does include great cards of some of the top prospects, it does not include cards of all of the top prospects. Collectors will be sad to note that Topps Pro Debut does not offer cards of any players who did not play in affiliated Rookie, A, High A, AA or AAA league baseball in 2010. As a result, you will not find cards for late-signing 2009 draft picks like Stephen Strasburg, Dustin Ackley, Brandon Tate or from top Cuban-defectors like Aroldis Chapman and Jose Iglesias.
While I understand that contract limitations may have prevented Topps from producing NCAA and Team USA uniform cards of those players, they could have used photos from the Arizona Fall League for Strasburg, Ackley and Iglesias, and Cuban team photos, like those found in 2009 Topps WBC products, for Chapman and Iglesias. Now that Topps is the exclusive producer of Team USA cards beginning this season, I hope that the 2011 Topps Pro Debut set can offer cards from all of the top prospects, and not just those who played in affiliated summer ball.
In addition, while the majority of Topps Pro Debut features great game-action photography, some cards are less exciting and look 2008 TriStar Prospects Plus-esque. For example, the 2010 Topps Pro Debut Stephen Fife looks just as un-inspired as his Prospects Plus card.

Overall, 2010 Topps Pro Debut is an excellent set. The game-used relics alone make the set a success and the prospect cards are sure to be great investments. Congratulations Topps, and I certainly look forward to Topps Pro Debut becoming a staple set for years to come.

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