Saturday, December 16, 2006

Box Break and Review: 2006 Bowman Draft Picks and Prospects

One Box of 2006 Bowman Draft Picks and Prospects (paid $79)
24 packs per box, seven cards per pack (MSRP $3.99/pack)

The Details

Chiptoppers: One over sized checklist.

Base Set: 55 cards (two-per-pack)

Inserts: (two-per-pack)
Futures Game: 45 cards
Draft Picks: 65 cards

Golds: 165 cards (one-per-pack #)
Whites: 165 cards (1:43, numbered to 225)
Reds: (1:7934, one-of-one)
Chrome: 165 cards (two-per-pack)
Chrome Refractor: 165 cards (1:11)
X-Fractor: 165 cards (1:32)
Blue Refractor: 165 cards (1:50, numbered to 199 copies)
Gold Refractor: 165 cards (1:197, numbered to 50)
Orange Refractor: 165 cards (1:395, numbered to 25)
Red Refractor: 165 Cards (1:585, numbered to 10)
Superfractor: 165 cards (1:7934, one-of-one)
Printing Plates: (1:990)

* All parallel sets include the 55 card base set, as well as the 45 Futures Game and 65 Draft Pick "inserts," bundled together.
# Packs containing a Futures Relic, do not have a Gold card.

Autogamers #:
Autographed Chrome Draft Picks: 30 cards^ (1:50)
Autographed Chrome Draft Picks Refractor: 30 cards (1:156)
Autographed Chrome Draft Picks X-Fractor: 30 cards (1:351)
Autographed Chrome Draft Picks Blue Refractor: 30 cards (1:535)
Autographed Chrome Draft Picks Gold Refractor: 30 cards (1:1575)
Autographed Chrome Draft Picks Orange Refractor: 30 cards (1:3232)
Autographed Chrome Draft Picks Red Refractor: 30 cards (1:13,166)
Autographed Chrome Draft Picks Superfractor: 30 cards (1:53,812)
Head of the Class: 1 card (1:7640)
Head of the Class Refractor: 1 card (1:27,000)
Head of the Class Gold Refractor: 1 card (1:56,000)
Head of the Class Superfractor: 1 card (1:261,680)
Signs of the Future: 19 cards (production varies)
Chrome Autographed Press Plates (1:13,200)
Futures Game Relics: 45 cards (production varies)

# Stated odds of finding an Autograph or Relic: 1:12
^ The 30 Autographed Chrome Prospects are numbered as an extension of the Draft Picks insert set. (DP 66-95)

The Pulls

Each seven card pack contains:

  • Two base set cards ("Greens")
  • Two Futures Game or Draft Picks "inserts" ("Blues")
  • Either a Gold Parallel, or a Futures Game Relic
  • One Bowman Chrome Parallel
  • Either a second BowChro card, a BowChro Refractor, or an Autographed BowChro Draft Pick

Base Set: 42 of 55 (76.36%)

Futures Game: 19 of 45 (42.22%)
Draft Picks: 27 of 65 (41.54%)

22 Golds
1 White: C. Villanueva
43 Chromes (one double)
3 Refractors: B. Bannister, L. Cruz, M. McBride
1 Blue Refractor: R. Morris

1 Autographed Chrome Draft Pick: D. Evans
2 Futures Game Relics: R. Braun, A. Gordon

The Review

The 2006 Edition of Bowman Draft Picks and Prospects (BDP&P) is here, and if you're familiar with the previous couple of year's editions, then you know the drill. The more the MLBPA tries to change The Hobby, just more BDP&P stays the same. (Sort of.)

Just like with '06 Bowman, the MLBPA's new "Rookie Card" definition has made it necessary for Topps to make some changes to the composition to the product. The 55-card "base set" are all green bordered (there are no "Red" cards) and feature the now familiar cross-brand "ROOKIE CARD" logo -- most of which are "parenth-RCs." To be sure, there are some "true" RCs (Mike Napoli, Jon Lester, and Michael Pelfrey to name a few), but just not as many as your used to. If you include the base set with the 110 blue-bordered "inserts," the combined 165-card set equals the set size of previous BDP&P efforts.

The 110 "Blues" are divided into two separate insert sets: 45 Futures Games and 65 Draft Picks. The design of both sets are similar, and the only way to distinguish between the two is that the Futures Game cards are numbered on the back with an "FG" prefix, and the Draft Picks have a "DP." Other than that, you really can't tell the difference. Each pack comes with (on average) two "Greens" and two "Blues." Something to consider if, like me, you still consider the Blues as part of the base set.

Each pack comes with a Gold parallel, and with the return of game used cards, they have reverted to being printed on thicker gauge cardboard, and double as pack-searching decoys. Just like with Bowman, BDP&P is "bundled" with the Chrome version, and you get two of them in a pack. (For purposes of this set, I classify the Chromes for what they are: "parallels.") And as has become standard operating procedure for BDP&P, Topps tacked on an additional autographed cards that are only available in the Chrome version.

Speaking of the 65 Draft Picks and the 30 Chrome Autographed Draft Picks, collectors should take note not necessarily of who's in the set, but who's NOT in the set. Looking for the first Bowman card of Luke Hochevar -- the first pick in the 2006 draft? You'll have to wait a while, because he's not here. And neither is Gregory Reynolds, the second overall pick. Evan Longoria, the number three pick, is in the set (in fact, he's the product's "cover boy"), but good luck actually finding one of his cards (more on that later). Even Andrew Miller, the sixth pick overall and considered by many to be the best player available in the draft; a player who made his Major League debut on August 30th with the Tigers -- and as such is eligible to have his first true "rookie card" in this set -- is missing. In fact, of the 30 first round draft picks, only 13 appear in '06 BDP&P -- six of which are part of the Autographed Chrome set.

So with only 13 first rounders, who exactly are these other 82 draft picks? Well, there are a handful of 2nd and 3rd round picks, but (surprisingly) there are a large amount of 5th, 6th, and even 8th round picks. To be sure, a couple of these 5th-through-8th rounders will wind up as the proverbial "diamonds in the rough," but history shows that most of these guys will never amount to much. And, of course, some will probably never even play a single inning in the big leagues. But then again, if collect Bowman, you already knew that. Caveat Emptor.

Wrapping up BDP&P, are the Futures Game Relic cards, which are a pseudo-parallel of the Futures Game inserts. For some reason, the Futures Game Relics are green bordered, rather than blue. And then there's the autograph set everyone loves to hate: Signs of the Future.

The Bottom Line:

2006 has been a transition year for The Hobby as a whole, and for the Bowman family of products in particular. No longer "The Home of the Rookie Card," Topps has been forced to make adjustments to all their Bowman products. With '06 Bowman, the results were mixed. Bundling regular Bowman with Bowman Chrome, gave the "Chromies" a reason to rediscover the regular Bowman set, and it sold very well. But the inclusion of autographed cards in the base set alienated many long-time Bowman set builders -- myself included. However, with the MLBPA-mandated exception of segregating the non-MLB players from the base set, Topps has left Bowman Draft Picks & Prospects alone.

This particular box yielded three-quarters of the base set, but only about two-fifths of the "Blues." If you're like me and still consider the Blues to be part of the base set, you'll be disappointed to know that Topps short-printed them. To build a full 165-card set, you'll need at least two, maybe even three, boxes.

Each box promises two autogamers, and in this box I got three. So I guess I got over on Topps. Yay! I pulled an Autographed Draft Pick card of Braves second-rounder Dustin Evans. The two Futures Game Relics I pulled were of Ryan Braun -- the fifth overall pick in last year's draft -- and the current object of the infamous, deplorable Keith Olbermann's affection: Alex Gordon. For those of you scoring at home, Alex Gordon has now made an appearance in all three Bowman products this year (Bowman, BowChro, and BDP&P), but we're still waiting for his first legit "rookie card."

Although the regular "Blues" are short-printed in relation to the base-set "Greens," this does not appear to be the case among the parallels. Of the 22 Gold cards this box yielded, eight were from the base set, and the other 14 were Blues. The three refractors pulled came from each of the three different sets: A Green of Mets pitcher Brian Bannister, a Futures Game of Padres SS Luis Cruz, and a Draft Pick of Cleveland 2nd rounder Matt McBride. I also pulled a White parallel of Brewers pitcher Carlos Villanueva, and a Blue Refractor of Ryan Morris, the Indians' 4th-round draft pick.

Product Rating: 3 Gumsticks (out of five)

Do I recommend this product?

Hardcore Bowman fans will be disappointed with the lack of "true" rookie cards. And not including over half the first-round draft picks, in product billed as a "Draft Pick" set is kind of pathetic. But still, if you're a Bowman fan, you're going to like this product. You don't need me to tell you that.

... and another thing.

Allow me to vent a little bit. One thing that's pissed me off about BDP&P ever since it went to this format in '02, has been the inclusion of the Autographed Chrome cards. As many of you who regularly read this blog know, I don't collect Chrome. I don't "get" Chrome. I've never opened a pack of Topps or Bowman Chrome in my life, and I don't intend to. I don't collect ToppChro or BowChro, and I never intend to. And I still don't like the fact that BDP&P is bundled with BowChroDP&P, just as much as I didn't like the fact that '06 Bowman was bundled with '06 BowChro.

So why doesn't Topps make a non-Chrome (preferably un-autographed) version of the Autographed Chrome Draft Pick cards? You know, for the rest of us. Those of us who only collect regular Bowman? Are you listening Topps?

And what's up with putting Evan Longoria on the wrappers and box panels anyway? (Longoria is one of those 30 Autographed Draft Pick cards.) At the stated odds of 1:50/packs, and assuming perfect collation, a collector would have to open up 1500 packs of 2006 Bowman Draft Picks and Prospects in order to get a single card of the player prominently featured on the wrapper. What is up with that Topps? Now, I don't want to say that Topps is doing something illegal or unethical by putting Longoria on all the wrappers. Oh wait, yes I am.

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