Review: 2009 TRISTAR Prospects Plus baseball cards (HOT BOX)

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We’ve popped a Hot Box of the new 2009 TRISTAR Prospects Plus to help get you through the holidays.

What makes it a Hot Box? Well, it says so right on the box. There are two different types of boxes and cases for this product with only 2,400 standard boxes and 720 Hot Boxes made.

What did we find in the first product on the market to include 2009 draft picks? Check it out — along with a selection of card images — after the jump.


What We Pulled
Packs per box:
Cards per pack: 6
Cards per box: 60
Base set completion: 34 of 100 (34 percent)
Duplicates: 0

Short-prints: 6
Crystal Ballers (1) — Michael Leake
Variations (5) — Matthew Hobgood (two versions), Dustin Ackley, Donavan Tate, Tony Sanchez

Inserts: 5
Obak Update (5) — Introducing the No. 1 Draft Pick (Stephen Strasburg), Dustin Ackley, Donavan Tate, Tony Sanchez, Matthew Hobgood

Parallels: 5
Crystal Ballers Gold (1) — Jared Mitchell (#’d to 50)
Red (1) — Tommy Joseph (#’d to 5)
Green (2) — Dinesh Patel, Donavan Tate/Matthew Hobgood/Zachary Wheeler/Tyler Matzek (#’d to 25)
Gold (1) — Kristopher Hobson (#’d to 50)

Autographs: 10
Silver (5) — Manny Banuelos, Alex White, Ben Tootle, Kyle Gibson, Kyle Heckathorn (#’d to 199)
Green (5) — Tommy Mendonca, Caleb Cotham, Paul Smyth, Nick Franklin, Brett Jackson (#’d to 25)

Memorabilia: none

Thumbs up
The idea of Hot Boxes is one that we like — there are just 720 of them to go around (well, 719 now) and each includes 10 packs and a total of 26 “hits.” Each should contain 10 autograph cards seven short-prints, five inserts and four parallels. (This box was slightly off, but delivered the correct total.) Standard boxes include 20 packs and 11 total hits (four autographs) … The checklist is definitely one for prospectors as there are 100 players in the set, many who haven’t appeared on cards before. Among them are the Nos. 2-5 draft picks Dustin Ackley, Donavan Tate, Tony Sanchez and Matthew Hobgood. Oh, and that highly touted No. 1 pick, Stephen Strasburg? Well, he was too pricey to sign (rumors are swirling in the industry that that may be the case for several companies), but he is included. How? A few “Introducing the No. 1 Draft Pick” cards which feature a sketch of the highly touted Washington Nationals pitcher.  … The design is quite strong and the photographs seem a bit cleaner and crisper than some past TRISTAR releases, which makes up for a few of the shortcomings that are in this release. … Who needs logos when the design is this tightly done? The Dustin Ackey base card is a great example of  how several small design touches can make a great-looking card. The lightly colored softened background with slight striping along with a balanced use of foil stamping make a team logo un-necessary.

Thumbs down
While the Strasburg cards are creative, we think they might not appeal to many collectors — unless several companies get shut out and can’t sign the Scott Boras client. … The only part of the set that didn’t appeal somewhat were the Crystal Ballers inserts. … The lack of any team logos does create an immediate aesthetic roadblock. (The company’s Minor League Baseball license expired at the end of August.) This set is not licensed by any leagues and does not carry any collegiate logos. (All logos have been cleanly removed from the photographs.) However, when it comes to unlicensed sets, we’ve definitely seen rougher-looking cards.

— Chris Olds

Prospect Cards:
Memorabilia: —
Design: ***
Box Value: **

Click on the additional card images for a closer look.

Chris Olds is the editor of Beckett Baseball and Beckett Graded Card Investor. Have a comment, question or idea? Send an e-mail to him at

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