June 13, 2011

Hobby Box Break and Review: 2011 Topps Pro Debut

After opening two cases of 2011 Topps Series 2 you would think opening something new would be a welcomed idea. Believe me, the idea was very welcoming, however, upon opening the first pack it felt like a continuation. You may ask yourself what do I mean, so allow me to take you on a tour of 2011 Topps Pro Debut.

Each hobby box contains 24 packs of eight cards and guaranteed two game-used memorabilia cards and two autographs per box. The set consists of 330 base cards, and various insert sets: 45 Single-A All-Stars, 45 Double-A All-Stars, 10 Triple-A All-Stars.

First stop will be the base cards, which one box yielded 163/330 with no duplicates. The base cards are identical to the base set of Topps cards for the majors, so if you like seeing the exact same design on everything you buy it's awesome. If you prefer to be able to tell one set from another, and like to have some distinguishing factors between being a Single-A player on a baseball card and being Derek Jeter on a baseball card, well this set is going to annoy you. Do I like it? Not really.

Why? Well, I get that there was the intention to keep the set in line with the brand, but how many times can they recycle the design? Between this and Bowman/Bowman Draft Picks and Prospects it's giving us FOUR sets of the SAME EXACT CARDS. Many of you voiced that you can't tell the difference between Bowman base and Bowman DPP, well same thing here.

I scanned some of the guys that I recognized easily and that are more popular. Especially a guy such as Mike Trout who many say the only player he is second to in hitting in the system is Bryce Harper.

While I think Gary Sanchez should have been with the players above rather than these guys, I figured I would keep him with the rest of the Yankees. Sanchez is better known for his power than his defense, but who brings up a kid to DH for a career?

Here are the blue parallels which are serial numbered to /309. The first batch are the ones that look awful. How do they expect us to be able to read a blue foil name on the same blue colored banner behind it? I think another team color for either the foil or the banner behind would have been a smart move.

Ohhh wait, some of the blue parallels escaped and look nice. This is how they all should look if you ask me.

There are also gold parallels which are numbered to /50, and I pulled one from the hobby box.

Next up are the inserts- the Single-A, Double-A, and Triple-A All-Star cards. They are all the same except for different background colors. I don't particularly care that they aren't three different designs as they are basically all getting the same point across and could be looked at more as one set than three.

Now for the mojo. While I found this product to be pretty disappointing, the hits seemed to redeem it for me. Would I feel slightly better if I pulled four guys I had never heard of? No, but that wasn't entirely the case here.

Chris Archer
game used jersey card

Mike Moustakas game-used jersey card

Garrett Gould auto

Slade Heathcott auto!!! Wow. This makes me really happy because I have wanted to pick up one of his Bowman Chrome auto's for quite some time but couldn't pull the trigger since I already collect too many players as it is. This really made my day.
Now we will get down to business and fill out the report card for this product.

Design: A? C?

I am honestly not sure what I can give this set because if I gave the Topps Series 1 design an A, how can I really sit here and justify giving this a C? I don't think I can score them that differently, but if no one would think it hypocritical I would tell you this is just a minor league version of Series 1 and from what I understand that is the goal of the product- so yay, A.

However on the flip side of the argument, here is another product with the same design as TWO other previous releases and with some of the same players featured on cards. It's almost like they are trying to flood the market and confuse everyone. So now we have First Year cards out, Rookie Cards, minor league cards that can also be rookie cards but since they aren't marked it isn't a rookie card. Moustakas gets called up and I have 2 of his cards here, in a minor league set. He is now technically a rookie, however since the little logo isn't there... too bad, Marie. Hence the grade- C.

Take from my rant what you will. I think I just gave myself a whole other blog post to write at a later date.

Value: B+

Current prices on the net for this product range anywhere from $50-$65. You get 4 hits in each box, plus some parallels and inserts as well as no duplicates. I think the value is there for the set collector and the hit chaser. You are not overwhelmed with a ton of insert sets, and can probably complete a set with 2-3 boxes or 2 boxes and some trading/singles on eBay. This is a lot cheaper of a gamble on minor league auto's than buying Bowman Jumbos (not that I would know anything about that.... *cries*).

Quality: B/B-

Again, hard to rip a product up when I so highly praised the base set. However, I have a MAJOR problem with the attention to detail, well rather the lack of attention to detail on the blue parallels. As collectors we enjoy being able to read the cards and the team names, and the blue parallels are just impossible to read without contrasting colors.

I do like the fact that the inserts are limited in this set so that there aren't 50 cards of Romine before he ever sets foot in the big leagues.

Overall: (if you just asked me for an overall grade, my personal opinion) C

I honestly found this set to just be plain boring. It's not because I don't like minor league cards or players, because I LOVE Bowman every year despite me saying I won't buy that much of it I always go bananas.

I like chasing the prospect auto's and seeing who I can pull. This set features that same chance, for less money but you are getting an auto that is extremely less desirable in every aspect of collecting. Part of that is due in part by Bowman Chrome auto's have become the be all end all RC for every player. Most people don't really care about RC's anymore unless its the signed Bowman Chrome card.

While at the end of the day you got 4 hits in the box for about $30 less than Bowman, you are walking away with almost novelty auto's. Not that there is anything wrong with that because I am perfectly happy with my Heathcott auto but remember why I am happy about it- because I won't spend the money to have his Bowman auto.

Bottom line, if you chase hits and auto's and can afford the Bowman-buy that. You can pick up what you need from this set on the secondary market.


  1. I like the clean look of the Solo Sigs. The auto spot doesn't take up too much of the card, but still stands out enough.

    I like the TPDs but I'm not die-hard enough of a prospector/MiLBer to rip any though...

  2. You comment about Topps trying to flood the market and confuse everyone is pretty much spot on.

    At times the player content and the card design of a product like Pro Debut doesn't distinguish itself and becomes redundant filler.

  3. Topps Pro Debut could be successful with a few tweaks.

    Most important: Don't release it right on top of Bowman!

    Don't make it hobby-only. One of the best outlets for Topps minor league baseball cards could be minor league baseball park gift shops, but not if you don't let them carry the product.

    Come up with a theme for it. It's not really a "Pro Debut" set - while there are some players that made their pro debut last year, there are more that have been playing for a few years. My suggestion: 300-card set, 10 best prospects in each organization. License Baseball America's list or hire your own expert to pick.

  4. I really like the idea of there being a unified design for the lower end Topps brands. It's a nice, clean design and I'm glad they're using it for Football this year as well.

    That said, they did a pretty bad job with this set. I can't figure out where it's supposed to sit with all the Bowman cards coming out, or why I should collect one or the other.