The Essentials: 2014 Mets Autographs

The Prospect Boom Goes Bust

With all of the cards released across dozens of products in 2014, it can be hard to figure out what is worth collecting and what might as well be forgotten. What makes something essential? It’s a mix of collectibility, notability, and attainability. Popular brands/inserts and player debuts will dominate here, not big money low-numbered parallels or big stars. Just about everything mentioned here should still be fairly easy to find on the secondary market at reasonable prices.

2014 continued the Mets prospect autograph explosion that started in late 2013, but that fizzled out late in the year. While that meant lots of autographs for many top Mets prospects who had previously been overlooked, it was bad news for the Mets’ 2014 draft class, which is still waiting for its first autograph card from Topps.

Prospects

Panini started the year off with a trio of autograph debuts in 2013 Panini Elite Extra Edition, a product that featured autographs from 11 Mets prospects. Jared King and Akeel Morris had their first and only autographs here while Rainy Lara had his first live autographs; he had redemptions alongside Amed Rosario in 2013 Panini Prizm Perennial Draft Picks. Rosario also had redemptions in EEE, making his PPDP autographs his first.

For the first time in years, the Mets had a Bowman Chrome prospect autograph in Bowman. Actually, they had three, Chris Flexen, Casey Meisner, and Cesar Puello. These are the first autographs from Flexen and Meisner, but Puello has been around for a while.

Bowman Chrome followed that up with three more: Gabriel Ynoa, Jeff McNeil, and Robert Gsellman. These are the first autographs from McNeil and Gsellman, but Ynoa first appeared in 2014 Bowman Platinum, which nobody cares about. Really, those other Bowman products (Platinum, Sterling, and Inception) are anything but essential, even when they get someone first.

And then Bowman Draft finished a record-setting 2014 off with… Nothing. For the first time since the Mets took Eddie Kunz with the 42nd overall pick in 2007, the top Mets draft pick did not have an autograph in Bowman Draft. I guess Michael Conforto was a tough guy to get to sign.

But not for Leaf. While Topps and Panini issued redemptions for all of their 2014 Conforto autographs, Leaf had his autos live in 2014 Leaf Metal Draft, 2014 Leaf Valiant, and 2014 Leaf Trinity. Rob Whalen rounded out the list of prospect autograph newcomers in 2014 Topps Heritage Minor League Edition. But there were plenty more Mets prospects with autographs in 2014.

Cory Vaughn made it to AAA in 2014 and also got his first MLB-licensed autograph in 2014 Bowman Platinum (his previous autographs were in Panini products). Dominic Smith, Kevin Plawecki, and Gavin Cecchini all had less notable autographs in the other lesser Bowman products. That should just about cover prospects…

Oh, right, Noah Syndergaard. With his MLB debut still yet to come, it was a full year of prospect autographs for Syndergaard after his first Mets autograph in 2013 Bowman Sterling. We are still waiting for the definitive Syndergaard Mets autograph though, none of these quite measure up. Among other Mets prospects with autographs in 2014, we’ll cover Rafael Montero later and Dilson Herrera in the 2015 edition (all of his 2014 autographs were with memorabilia).

Rookies

With so many players getting their first autographs years before they make their MLB debut, Rookie Card autographs aren’t all that notable anymore. Technically, these shouldn’t even have the RC logo, but nobody cares about the rules these days. Travis d’Arnaud, Wilmer Flores, and Rafael Montero had autographs, with and without the RC logo, all year long. Here’s a sampling.

Other Rookies didn’t get the star treatment with 2014 autographs. Matt den Dekker, Juan Centeno, and Wilfredo Tovar had their only autographs in Panini products.

One other Mets Rookie had autographs in 2014. Jacob deGrom had his first cards in 2014 Bowman and his first Rookie Cards in 2014 Topps Update. His first autographs were also in 2014 Topps Update in the Trajectory Autographs set, 2014’s base Topps running autograph set. David Wright (Series 1), Travis d’Arnaud (Series 1), and Rafael Montero (Update) also have cards in this set.

Retired Players

Topps Heritage is always good for a few new or hard-to-find autographs from long-retired players. The 2014 edition sadly did not have any in Mets uniforms, but the Dallas Green and Frank Lary are worth picking up.

Don Zimmer was also among the non-Mets autographs in 2014 Topps Heritage, but his 2014 Topps Archives Fan Favorites Autograph has the distinction of being his final autograph card. Other notable Mets shown in other uniforms in Archives were Carlos Baerga, Orlando Hernandez, and former Mets pitching coach Mel Stottlemyer.

On the Mets side, there wasn’t much new in the Fan Favorites Autographs set. After Keith Miller made a surprise appearance in 2013 Archives, we got Lenny Harris in the 2014 edition. The common theme? Miller turned 50 in 2013 while Harris turned 50 in 2014. Does that mean we might get Todd Zeile in 2015 Archives? Another interesting Archives autograph was John Olerud shown as a Met, though it would have been nice if the signature weren’t on a dark blue area. Finally, Panini Prizm used up some autograph stickers from Ron Darling and Lee Mazzilli.

Veterans

And here’s everyone else. Some interesting veteran players with Mets autographs in 2014 include Andrew Brown with his first autographs in 2014 Donruss, Jeremy Hefner with his first autographs in 2014 Topps Gypsy Queen, and Daisuke Matsuzaka in a variety of products. Panini then closed out the year with the first Dillon Gee autographs since 2012 (Daniel Murphy is supposed to be in the same set, but that card has yet to surface).

After that, well, there were plenty of Mets autographs from players like David Wright and Zack Wheeler, plus a few from Mike Piazza, Tom Glavine, and more. Rather than go through all of those though, here’s a bunch of acetate cards. Clear plastic is always essential, right?

  1. For my collecting habits, I find it easier & more cost-effective to ignore the prospect autographs until the player actually makes the Mets.

    I will have to look for that Lenny Harris one from Topps Archives, and Pannini’s Dillon Gee autograph is nice enough that I still would like to have one even though I don’t “need” another Gee autograph. (I really can’t believe I’m saying that about a Pannini baseball card.)

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