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Top 10 Under-the-Radar Baseball Players to Buy as the 2024 Season Begins

While March Madness heats up and Shohei Ohtani gossip clogs the MLB news cycle, it’s hard to believe that Opening Day is just around the corner. As you’re figuring out what in the world to do with your Ohtani cardboard, here are 10 players’ sports cards to invest in as the 2024 MLB season gets going.

10. Colton Cowser | OF, Baltimore Orioles

We’ll start with a calculated gamble in the Orioles outfielder who was recently informed he’ll make the Opening Day roster (one that’s loaded with young talent, in case you’ve been living under a rock). Cowser has generated moderate hobby interest in prospecting circles, but he’s living in one large shadow left by the likes of Jackson Holliday, Gunnar Henderson, Adley Rutschman, [insert blooming Orioles star here]. Cowser had an underwhelming cup of coffee with the big club in 2023, hitting .115 in 61 at-bats. However, he’s coming off a huge spring in which he slashed .304/.418/.717 and hit six homers in just 46 trips to the dish. Cowser’s minor league track record says he’ll hit, and if the O’s farm system has taught us anything in recent years, it’s that we should believe the hype.

If you want a sweet Cowser RPA for really cheap, go for an unlicensed product like Leaf Trinity.

Cowser’s PSA 10 Bowman autograph rookie and prospect cards are currently going for around $75, which is a steal compared to Holliday and Henderson. Cowser’s raw Topps un-numbered autos have recently sold for as low as $25 or less. Again, this one is a bit of a gamble, because, well… the prospect has to pan out for his cards to hold their value. Cowser probably won’t get regular playing time this season, but his name is sure to begin to circulate on a wider basis. If you’re willing to wait a while for the rest of the world to understand his potential, buy Cowser now.

9. Jung Hoo Lee | OF, San Francisco Giants

After hitting .340 across seven seasons in the KBO, Jung Hoo Lee signed a massive contract to come to the MLB and patrol the outfield for the San Francisco Giants. A disciplined hitter who walked more often than he struck out in his pro career in Korea, Lee won’t wow you with huge power (though he can let one fly every once in a while) but he will be consistent… which makes him a safe bet in the card market.

The gamble here is that Lee obviously isn’t proven in the MLB ranks, yet, but that’s also what makes investing in his cards even more intriguing. Lee’s ceiling isn’t astronomical, but if his game translates to the majors, he could be a household name for years to come. As of now, hearing his name in your average baseball conversation is rare… and his cards are rarer. Lee is a great buy right now because he simply doesn’t have many cards that exist yet. Get in early on Lee and thank yourself later.

I have this Kerry Carpenter card in my PC. It’s a beaut.

8. Kerry Carpenter | OF, Detroit Tigers

Alright, here’s my first biased selection as a Detroit Tigers fan (spoiler alert: there will be one later in the list as well). The Tigers are a team on the rise (at least I’m telling myself that) due to their solid core of young stars like Riley Greene and Spencer Torkelson. While expectations are sky-high for the aforementioned duo, another name emerged as a cog in the Tigers’ lineup during the 2023 season: Kerry Carpenter. After ascending from AA ball to the major league club in the blink of an eye in 2022 (a year in which he hit 36 combined homers in the minors & majors), Carpenter continued his meteoric rise with 20 homers and a stellar 120 OPS+ in an injury-abbreviated 2023 season.

Figuring to occupy the cleanup spot in an improved Tigers lineup in 2024, there’s good reason to believe Carpenter’s rise will continue. Comps on Carpenter cards are all over the place, suggesting the market isn’t firm on his status just yet. Recent eBay sales show raw Carpenter rookie autos selling for as little as a single dollar. Okay, that one was a fluke… but many others are living in the $12-25 range. If there’s one player on this list I feel most confident will provide steady offensive production, it’s Kerry Carpenter (part of that is my Tigers fandom speaking; part of it is objective reasoning, of course). You heard it here: buy Kerry Carpenter.

7. Yordan Alvarez | DH, Houston Astros

It feels ridiculous that someone as accomplished as Yordan Alvarez needs to be on a list of under-the-radar players to buy, but alas, here he is. Whether because of his injury history or the Astro factory of star power that clouds his dominance, Alvarez cards just haven’t seen the boom they deserve despite his career 165 OPS+ (yes, that’s a real stat). According to my calculations, his career OPS of .978 lands him third on the active list (min. 2,000 PA) between names like Trout, Judge, Soto, Ohtani, Acuna Jr. and Harper. So why doesn’t the Alvarez card market match that of his counterparts?

My best guess is that Alvarez just doesn’t play with the pizzazz of the rest of the guys on that list, but who cares? Yordan Alvarez is a hitting machine (proven by the inscription on the pictured Leaf Trinity card), and in the middle of a loaded Astros lineup, he should be just that for years to come. When it’s all said and done, we may be talking about a Hall of Famer. You probably won’t see the Alvarez market spike this year, but that’s why you should buy Yordan Alvarez now… because at some point, it will.

Yordan has reminded you how absolutely insane his rookie season was, right here on this card!

6. Bryson Stott | IF, Philadelphia Phillies

When you think about the Philadelphia Phillies, which players come to mind first? Harper. Turner. Nola. Wheeler. My guess is you’re pretty far down the list before you get to Bryson Stott. But it’s possible that won’t be the case for long. Already a playoff hero, Stott has cemented himself in the Phillies’ middle infield and doesn’t appear to be going anywhere. What he is doing, though, is quietly piecing together the beginnings of a brilliant career. He was stellar in 144 games as the Phillies’ second baseman last season, committing just five errors while hitting a very respectable .280 with 15 homers.

Stott has a relatively low strikeout rate and benefits from hitting in a loaded lineup, so there’s hope he’ll continue to develop offensively. Meanwhile, his base rookie cards are selling for 30-40 cents on eBay, and a Topps Museum Collection rookie triple patch auto #’d/399 recently went for…drumroll please… 99 cents. Even his high-end rookie autos go for $20 or less raw, and some PSA 10s are barely cracking triple digits. Get in on Bryson Stott before Bryson’s hot.

5. Francisco Alvarez | C, New York Mets

Maybe we should call it the Alvarez effect. It’s ridiculous how relatively little hype the Mets catcher’s rookie season received, but there are a few explanations: 1) the Mets sucked last year, 2) he hit for a low batting average, and 3) he’s a catcher, and catchers just don’t get the love they deserve. Regardless, the backstop went off for a ridiculous 25 bombs in just 382 at-bats last season, and barring a Gary Sanchez-like fall, he should become a household name in due time.

But while he’s the second-most famous Francisco on his own team, you should get in on his cards. Raw rookie autos, both licensed and unlicensed, are going for $20-25. If you invest in one of those and get it graded, you could be in for a massive return later on.

This 2023 Panini Flawless Dual Pick #’d/20 is literally a two-for-one deal.

4. Bobby Miller & Gavin Stone | P, Los Angeles Dodgers

Alright, here’s a two-for-one deal at #4. Miller & Stone are both exciting names floating around in the embarrassment of riches otherwise known as the Los Angeles Dodgers, but neither has necessarily proven himself yet. Both had very similar numbers in the minors, but Stone struggled in his cup of coffee with the big club in 2023 while Miller showed he belongs. Still, Miller will need to replicate his 2023 success this season in order to lock down a permanent spot in the Dodgers’ rotation for years to come.

Stone might be a bigger risk here, but both are exciting young pitchers on a great team. Outer space is the limit. You can still snag a deal on Stone (a PSA 10 Bowman Chrome 1st Auto Refractor #’d/499 recently went for $46 on eBay), but if he pulls a Miller in 2024, that opportunity is likely to fade. The market is well-acquainted with Miller, but he could catapult into superstar status soon enough on his current trajectory. Miller and Stone are “buy now or forever hold your regret” status.

3. Tarik Skubal | P, Detroit Tigers

This beautiful Topps Inception Skubal rookie auto #’d /200 is currently up for sale on eBay for $29.99!

I recently copped a Skubal rookie auto on COMC for $5. A Skubal Bowman Sterling rookie auto recently went for $2.25 on eBay. A Bowman Chrome 1st Auto PSA 10 went for as little as $60 in recent months. If I haven’t convinced you yet, invest in the flamethrower that is Tarik Skubal’s left arm. Thank me later. He isn’t going to be a secret for much longer.

Okay, I already covered my Tigers bias when I mentioned Kerry Carpenter, but trust me… Tarik Skubal is an animal. He absolutely shut down opposing lineups after returning from injury late in the 2023 season (.199 opponent batting average), and he leaves 2024 spring training primed and ready to become not only a full-fledged ace but a contestant in the A.L. Cy Young race.

2. Royce Lewis | IF, Minnesota Twins

Maybe you can go for this 10/10 Lewis while SGC is still a thing.

Who? Exactly. Why doesn’t anyone care about Royce Lewis? Okay, if you’re brushed up on baseball talent, you know this guy. But do you really have a good idea how good this guy might be? Apparently his nickname is Dr. Evil, which might become a common moniker used by opposing pitchers as he terrorizes them. Lewis hit .309 with 15 homers and 52 RBIs in just over 200 at-bats during his rookie season for the Twins in 2023. That measures out to a sparkling 150 OPS+, which, by the way, is good enough to make you pretty much the best hitter on any team.

The market is starting to catch onto Lewis, but he’s still such an under-the-radar name that it’s sure to explode if he continues to perform in the same stratosphere he’s been in. With an oft-injured Byron Buxton, there is room for a new star in Minnesota. His name is Royce Lewis, and if you don’t buy him now, one day you’ll be wishing you did.

1. Mike Trout | OF, Los Angeles Angels

This must be some kind of stupid joke, right? Wrong. We all know Mike Trout is a 1st-ballot Hall of Famer, a living legend, a nearly incomparable player. But be honest… he’s been your second-favorite Angel for the last number of years. With his Ruthian teammate moving across town to suit up in blue, Trout is out from under the shadow. I’m crossing my fingers for a full season of Trout in 2024, one that could prove just how incredible he really is.

Just dream with me: Trout hits 50 bombs in 2024. It sounds crazy, but the guy only needs about 500 at-bats to pull it off. You’ll be dusting off that 2011 Topps Update #US175 and getting it ready for a new appearance on eBay. The time to buy Mike Trout is now. It’s always. It’s forever. These are the cards you’ll be showing your grandkids in 2060, reminiscing about how you got to watch that compact swing send a ball into space… that is, if you buy before it’s too late.


There are so many players that could be on this list, but at some point, I’ll be wrong and I don’t want that blame! Here are the honorable mentions:

Nolan Jones | OF/1B, Colorado Rockies
Gabriel Moreno | C, Arizona Diamondbacks
Luis Robert | OF, Chicago White Sox
Ozzie Albies | 2B, Atlanta Braves
Josh Jung | 3B, Texas Rangers

By Nate Lake
Check out my eBay store: @natelakecards
Follow me on X: @natelakecards
Follow me on Instagram: @natelakecards

Nate Lake

Check out my eBay store: @natelakecards. Follow me on X: @natelakecards. Follow me on Instagram: @natelakecards.