2022 Topps Series 2: Product Preview — Prospects Live (2023)

The second installment out of three of Topps Flagship products in 2022 initially left a LOT to be desired. I had written up an intro about how disappointing this rookie checklist was. And then we started to see the initial hits coming out of the product on the day before release and rookie short prints that the hobby was clamoring for popped up.

Given the short turnaround time between the MLB season’s start and the release date of Topps Series 2, typically about two months, it’s always tough for Topps to get those rookies that debut in the first month of the season into the product. But they have done it before, including some notable inclusions in the recent past with Ronald Acuña Jr. and Gleyber Torres as short prints in 2018 and Fernando Tatis Jr. and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (no number on card) in 2019.This year we are getting at the very least short prints of Spencer Torkelson, Julio Rodriguez, and Bobby Witt Jr. (as of the time of writing) which is great news for collectors and the hobby.


The base design is the same that we saw in 2022 Topps Series 1 - go check out my article on Series 1 if you are interested in hearing my thoughts on it.

There are various inserts and as usual, we get the continuation of the 35th anniversary throwback insert with the 1987 Topps design. The wood border design is a classic, especially for me as it was the first product where I was truly collecting cards as a kid. Somewhat similar to the Series 1 Flashiest Feet insert, Topps is going with a Sweet Shades insert. Of all the announced inserts, this one is the one I enjoy the most. I love it when we get to see the players’ personalities and it’s just different and new.

I am also expecting another 10 cards in a base Home Field Advantage insert set and probably another 5 cards in a shorter printed Legendary Home Field Advantage insert set. Just like Series 1, this was not part of the announced checklist, but we have started to see them pop up and the most important one of all the rookies is included - a Wander Franco HFA. This card will likely be very expensive, at least for the first month of the product. A good decision by Topps to include Wander in this insert as it will help keep the product moving and give it some potential long term value.


Just like Series 1, you will find two hobby configurations, regular Hobby and Hobby Jumbo. At the time of writing this, regular hobby boxes are in the $125 range while hobby jumbos are in the $250 range pre-sale. Last year Topps sold 2021 Series 2 Hobby boxes for $79.99 direct from their website and I expect to see the same this year. A regular Hobby will guarantee you one auto OR relic plus a silver pack (chrome 35th anniversary cards), while the Hobby Jumbos will guarantee you one auto and two relics plus two silver packs. There will also be all of the standard retail formats with blaster boxes, jumbo packs, loose retail packs, etc.

Additional Notes

  • Players that don’t have base rookie cards but do have insert and/or auto rookie cards like Julio Rodriguez and Bobby Witt Jr., are not included in this write up. I will include them in the Flagship write up for the Series in which they have a base rookie card.

  • All teams listed in the Main Attraction section below are the teams shown on the card and not necessarily the team that they are currently on due to trades, free agency, etc.

  • I will not be writing up the rookies with base short prints (Tork, J-Rod, Witt) since they were unannounced. Those write-ups will be for when they have their traditional base rookie card (2022 Update Series). Just know that the three we know of - Tork, J-Rod, and Witt, are all Tier 1 players and will be highly desirable - likely the most desired cards in the product.

The Main Attraction

The Main Attraction in Flagship releases is the base rookie cards and all of their associated parallels. Collectors typically consider these cards to be a rookie’s True Rookie Card (TRC) and they hold a comparatively significant demand over most other rookie cards. Before we jump into the breakdown of the rookie checklist, a quick refresher on how I roughly think of my Tiers.

Tier One - Cream of the crop. Combination of high-end Hit and Power tools that won't end up as designated hitters. Power/Speed combo players. Elite SP1 pitchers (very rare). Potential for being perennial All-Stars and award winners.

Tier Two - Bats that may lack in a certain area such as top-end power, three true outcomes players, may be great real life/fantasy players, but not hobby-elite. High-end SP2 pitchers with additional positive factors such as team, arsenal, pedigree, etc.

Tier Three - May have some hobby interest due to a single factor such as prospect pedigree, team interest, general hobby hype, an interesting carrying tool, etc.

Tier None - The likelihood of widespread short-term hobby interest, and most likely long term as well, is close to none. Plenty of pitchers, catchers, role players, hit tool only bats, defense first players, etc. to be found here. Hobby lottery tickets where the odds are stacked against you.

(Video) SNEAK PEEK 2023 Topps SERIES 2 (TWO) Hobby Box Opening!!!

Tier 1

Oneil Cruz - Pirates - Cruz got a brief, two-game call-up to the major league squad to finish off the 2021 season after being a max exit velo god and dominating the minor league season. He delivered on the hype as he mashed a home run while almost on his knees in the season finale for the Pirates. Given his previous crushing of Triple-A and that small but sweet taste of success, the hype train was in absolute full effect throughout the off-season. The Pirates decided he needed to go back to Triple-A to start the season and it did not start well at all slashing .176/.282/.284 with 1 home run in April.

I’ll summarize some points from our own Jake Kerns Live Look - impressive physical presence whose most significant challenge was what was going on between the ears rather than between the lines. This Live Look was from the end of April, and since then, Cruz has been out to prove Jake WRONG. In roughly the last month he has slashed .276/.382/.526 with 6 home runs.

The sky is the limit with Cruz given his physical talents. He has plus raw power and will flick balls over the fence like he isn’t trying. He’s also can take bad balls out of the park as seen in his MLB home run at the end of 2021, reminding me of Vladimir Guerrero Sr. The downside is the swing and miss in his game and the long levers he possesses at 6’7” tall. He also may struggle on the defensive side of the ball, wherever he ends up settling into. The rocket arm will bale him out, but the rest of the fielding game isn’t his forte.

It’s hard not to put Cruz in Tier 1 given his talent and ceiling of a 40+ home run hitter, but if I had written this a month ago, I would’ve had considered it more. April 2022 was the downside of the Oneil Cruz experience, and it’s rough, so go in with open eyes if you are collecting his cards.

Shane Baz - Rays - Acquired from the Pirates along with Tyler Glasnow and Austin Meadows for Chris Archer during the 2018 season. Will no one ever learn not to trade with the Rays? Baz took a huge jump in 2021 and in the process dominated each level, all of which were new for him, from Double-A to Triple-A to the majors. Suddenly we were seeing a potential ace, and then he went under the knife in March of 2022 to clean up loose bodies in his elbow. He has gone threw a few rehab starts with no issues and is poised to make his return to the MLB staff most likely in a matter of days as of this writing.

Throws two dominant pitches with a 97-100 four-seam fastball and a high 80’s slider, each of which generates a ton of whiffs. He also has two above average secondaries on top of that with a curveball and a changeup with the curveball also getting some ridiculous whiff rates.

There is a high level of risk with my ranking of Baz as a Tier 1 player and I considered putting him into Tier 2 because of that risk, which is that he’s had literally 3 MLB starts and arthroscopic elbow surgery less than three months ago. But the stuff is undeniable and whenever I watch his tape, I am left with my mouth hanging open. Only true aces get the Tier 1 designation, and Baz has that ace potential in spades.

Tier 2

Juan Yepez - Cardinals - Acquired from the Braves in 2017 for Mat Adams and long after that trade faded from the memory banks, Yepez popped almost out of nowhere in 2021. While he debuted in 2022, he was called up for the Wild Card game in which the Cardinals lost and Yepez did not play. This gave Topps the ability to include him with a normal base rookie card in Series 2.

Yepez put up 27 home runs with a .286/.383/.586 slash line across Double-A and Triple-A in his 2021 breakout. That will play. The biggest question coming into 2022 was where he would play with Goldschmidt blocking him at first base and a plethora of outfielders in the Cardinals system. The universal DH and outfield injuries have given Yepez that opportunity and he’s been up with the big league club since early May. While not tearing the cover off the ball, he’s hit a respectable .266/.328/.431 with four home runs as of this writing.

I have Yepez slotted into Tier 2 because I believe the breakout and think we are seeing a future .280 bat with 25+ home runs in a full season. Defensively he is limited and he won’t provide anything in the speed department, but that is less important when it comes to the hobby. Add in the fact that the Cardinals lineup is typically stacked year after year giving Yepez more opportunities for counting stats and that they are a highly collectible team and it’s enough for me to push Yepez into Tier 2.


Tier 3

Joe Ryan - Twins -Acquired as part of the return for Nelson Cruz at the 2021 trade deadline, this actually looks like a fair deal all around and maybe one in the Twins’ favor given how good Ryan has looked. A bit surprising given the Rays’ penchant for getting the better side of trades. You may have heard this before, but it bears repeating - just because Ryan doesn’t have plus fastball velocity and spin doesn’t mean the fastball isn’t a plus pitch, because it is. Strong command with a low release point and strong induced vertical break (making it look like it is rising) drive those near-elite qualities. He has a slider, curveball, and changeup to round out the arsenal. The slider is at a minimum above average and it has been quite effective this year with a very strong 31.5% CSW.

He hasn’t pitched since he went on the COVID injured list in mid-May, he was living in top 20 starting pitcher territory. The main knock up to this point is that he rarely goes deep into games with only one outing longer than 6 innings in 2022, and that innings bump is what will get him up to an SP2 and Tier 2 ranking for me. But I would not fault anyone for having Ryan in their own personal Tier 2 given the profile and the results.

Josh Lowe - Rays - The younger brother of former Rays and current Rangers first baseman Nathaniel Lowe, Josh is a power/speed outfielder that can take a walk but also will strike out at an above average clip. Had a brief two-game call-up in early September of 2021 and then surprisingly made the Rays opening day roster after they traded away Austin Meadows to the Tigers. By the end of April, he was hitting below the Mendoza line and striking out at a 38% rate resulting in getting sent back down to Triple-A. If Lowe had more than an average hit tool, he would be in Tier 2. I used to fall for these profiles a lot harder, but I’ve learned my lesson to show a lot more caution which is why I am sticking Lowe towards the top of Tier 3. Especially on a team like the Rays who have no qualms about platooning almost every player on their roster.

Edward Cabrera - Marlins - Needs to figure out the walks but has been excellent in two starts so far in 2022. Granted those starts were against the Rockies —albeit in Colorado — and the Nationals. Struggled in his 2021 debut as his lack of command was taken advantage of by major league hitters. Features a plus 96-99 fastball, a plus hard changeup in the 92-94 range, and above average slider and curveball. The biggest change in his return to MLB is the increased changeup usage and it is producing absolutely elite numbers so far. Given the rough go of it in 2021, I am keeping Cabrera in Tier 3. If he keeps rolling in 2022 with that changeup continuing to be the filthy weapon it appears to be, he goes from a potential SP 3/4 to a potential SP 2 and is deserving of a Tier 2 ranking.

Roansy Contreras - Pirates - Acquired from the Yankees along with Maikol Escotto, Miguel Yajure, and Canaan Smith-Njigba for Jameson Taillon prior to the 2021 season. Had the dreaded forearm strain in the middle of the 2021 minor league season, but was able to come back in time to make his debut at the end of 2021. While he started 2022 in the Pirates bullpen, he was sent down to Triple-A once the MiLB season started in late April to stretch out to a starter’s workload. He came back up in late May and now has 3 good to excellent games under his belt. A mid-rotation starter seems easily attainable with the potential for more.

He throws a plus four-seam fastball averaging close to 97 MPH with a nasty plus slider that generates a significant amount of whiffs. The slide piece is currently at a 25 SwStr% which is potential ace level stuff. He’ll throw a curveball as a change of pace and a show-me changeup every so often. I like Roansy a lot and if it weren’t for the forearm strain in 2021, I probably would think about pushing him up as a risky Tier 2 guy. An SP2 profile is within reach although with the Pirates it may be depressed just because he won’t be regularly picking up wins. I put him in the top half of my Tier 3 group with easy Tier 2 upside.

Spencer Strider - Braves -Fourth round pick in the 2020 MLB draft by the Braves, Strider started 2021 in Low-A and went through every level to eventually land on the MLB roster for the final regular season games in October. Has been mostly utilized out of the bullpen in 2022 but recently moved into the starting rotation. It’s still up in the air whether that’s where his long term future will or won’t be given a two-pitch arsenal at the moment. A double plus fastball that he throws about 70% of the time, and why not when it’s as good as he is. It averages 98.5 MPH and will hit triple digits getting a 15% swinging strike rate and a 30% CSW. He pairs that with a plus slider that is consistently target the glove-side lower quadrant of the zone and plays well off of the elevated four seamer. He has a subpar changeup for his third pitch but rarely throws it.

As our own Justin Dunbar alluded to in a previous Dynasty Notes Patreon post, this feels very much like a Michael Kopech situation. A fair amount of bullpen risk will always be present given the two-pitch arsenal, but those two pitches are soooo good, that at a minimum he’s a Tier 3 pitcher. If he can stick in the rotation and be more than a backend, five and dive guy, then there is Tier 2 upside.

Seth Beer - Diamondbacks -Beer is simply here for his power potential. There is legitimate 30+ home run power in his profile and he has enough patience at the plate where he won’t strike out as much as we are used to seeing from today’s power-only bats. He is an absolute liability on defense, so there are literally 30 full-time jobs in baseball that he can fill with the universal DH. That’s a problem because if he isn’t delivering, it is very easy to sit him or send him back down to the minors. And that’s exactly what the Diamondbacks did after hitting .201 with one home run in the month of April. To be fair, given the time I’ve spent in Reno, I can say that the beer does flow in the biggest little city in the world, so hopefully Seth recaptures his flow in the friendly confines of the PCL.

He’s in the middle of my Tier 3 because of the power tool but there is a high risk that he turns into a Quad A/NPB slugger. The flip side is also true though, in that there could be that 40+ home run season at some point in the future, especially if he ends up in a lefty friendly park like Yankee stadium. If he ends up in the Bronx, his cards have a chance to go to the moon.

Romy Gonzalez - White Sox - Has a good floor given his positional versatility as he can play pretty much anywhere in the infield or outfield. Biggest concern is the hit tool as his swing is geared for power. He does have enough plate discipline that it’s not a huge detriment at the moment, but it’s definitely something to watch. If he can’t get his strikeout rates back under 30% like he was sporting prior to his MLB call up in 2021, then he could slide down into Tier None. Above that 30% range I start to worry about playing time and him making enough contact to get to the above-average raw power and the 25-ish home runs I would expect to see with full time play. Will also chip in some steals to help the statlines, but not enough to make noise hobby wise. There’s enough floor with some ceiling to keep him out of Tier None and in Tier 3.

Kevin Smith - Blue Jays* -Traded in the off-season to the Athletics in the Matt Chapman deal. Smith seemed to put all the pieces together in Triple-A last year. He was able to maintain the in-game power we had seen in previous seasons while upping the walk rate and cutting down the strikeout rate. This approach change has me more confident that he will be a Tier 3 player long term with the ability to hit .260 - .280 with 20 - 25 home runs with full-time run. Full-time run was a question given the Blue Jays depth. Now in the A’s organization, he is getting that playing time, mostly at third base. Unfortunately, he hasn’t done much with it, but very few rookies have so far this year.

Hans Crouse - Phillies - Currently moonlighting as a pitcher for the Phillies, but come Christmas time, this man has plans at Nakatomi Plaza. Acquired as part of a 2021 deadline deal from the Rangers along with Kyle Gibson and Ian Kennedy with Spencer Howard being the main piece headed the other way. Sinker slider approach and will mix in an occasional changeup. Command and a repeatable delivery are his biggest obstacles to landing a regular mid-rotation role. At 6’5” with a 3/4 delivery angle, it’s not the most comfortable at-bat from either side of the plate. Add in some timing distractions he’ll throw into his delivery to get that extra bit of deception a la Johnny Cueto. A mid-rotation ceiling, but he’s fallen into the bottom of Tier 3 for me with how little he’s pitched lately (he’s been on the minor league COVID-IL since mid-May) and not really having done anything eye-opening in his 2021 MLB debut or so far in 2022. Had a rookie auto in 2022 Series 1, but this is his first flagship base rookie card.

Matt Brash - Mariners - He debuted in 2022, but got called up in late September 2021 and never pitched. Hence we get his base rookie card in this product. It was slightly surprising that he made the opening day starting five for the Mariners in 2022, but the pure stuff is undeniable. With Brash, it’s all about the movement profiles on all his pitches. A plus fastball, plus swing and miss slider, and above average curveball and changeup. Unfortunately, all that movement brings command concerns to the forefront. Five games into the 2022 season and Brash was sporting a WHIP over two. Not great Bob. And with that, the Mariners pulled the plug on his starter innings and shifted him to a high leverage reliever role. He gets into Tier 3 because of the filth he throws and not the MLB performance that we saw in April. It now looks like he could end up as a potential future closer, which has some hobby potential if the job can be held long enough.

Tier None

Jake McCarthy - Diamondbacks - Speedy outfielder that should be able to play all three outfield positions as his speed gives him a strong defensive foundation. Strikeout rates were in the danger zone over 30% in his 2021 debut season. He started off 2022 on the MLB roster, but only picked up three hits in 25 at bats before getting sent down to Triple-A. He showed quite a bit of improvement by dropping his strikeout rate to the 12% range while in Reno. He came back up in May and it was the same old story. He found some unexpected minor league power in 2021 as well, but he’s going to have to find those contact rate improvements for it to be usable at the MLB level. I am a little bit on the fence here with McCarthy - there is some potential for a Tier 3 everyday regular that hits 10 home runs, steals 20 bases, hits .240 - .250 and gets to play daily because of his outfield defense. On the other hand, I think it is much more likely that he ends up as a 4th outfielder type and that has me putting him at the top of Tier None.

Colton Welker - Rockies - A hit tool first corner infielder with past and current shoulder problems whose seen the shine come off his prospect status in the past few years. He hit everything in sight in his first three years in the minors, but then the shoulder problems started back in 2018 and it seems like he hasn’t been exactly the same player since. Add in a PED suspension costing him half the 2021 season and recently announced season-ending shoulder surgery and Welker plummets into Tier None. Four to five years ago the hit tool and having Coors field as a future home ballpark probably would have seen Welker potentially would’ve been in consideration for a Tier 2 slotting. Now I have a hard time even seeing a short-term path to Tier 3 and am slotting him into the top half of Tier None. There is definitely upward mobility for Welker although the deck is stacked against him at the moment.

Ryan Vilade - Rockies - Second-round draft pick of the Rockies in 2017 steadily with an equally steady improvement in plate discipline year after year. I like to see that. Unfortunately, he’s putting the ball on the ground way too much at right around the 50% mark. He has the contact skills and on base skills to be a useful MLB piece, but without the thump to go along with it, he’s not going to be much more than a bench bat. If he does make adjustments that lead to more pop without sacrificing much else, then he could become a relevant everyday player. Add in the Coors field offensive inflation and that could be a Tier 3 bat. For now, as he is currently constructed, he lives in the top half of Tier None.


Otto Lopez - Blue Jays - A utility player that doesn’t have enough arm to be versatile enough to play much more than the 2B/OF role. He’s always been a contact over a power guy and done that well, but his 2022 season, all spent in the minors, has been rough, to say the least. Batting below the Mendoza line currently, I expect that he will regress back to what he’s shown prior to this season. His lack of in-game power and positional versatility will limit his big league opportunities. Given the above average hit tool and speed, there is potential for a Tier 3 slot, but that is more of an outside shot at that happening. For now, he’s a Tier None guy until he can find an everyday role and/or tap into some unexpected power. Had a rookie auto in 2022 Series 1, but this is his first flagship base rookie card.

Alfonso Rivas - Cubs - Fourth round pick of the Athletics in 2018, Rivas was traded to the Cubs for Tony Kemp in 2020. Came up in late August last year as an injury replacement for David Bote. Primarily first base although he can play the corner outfield. Hit over power lefty with good plate discipline that regular runs strikeout rates in the 20% range. He can fit as a strong-side platoon or second division regular but isn’t geared towards hitting many home runs which limits his upside for the hobby. A Tier None player with an unlikely outcome of reaching up into Tier 3 if he can find a .300+ average with regular playing time.

Jose Siri - Astros - Siri put up some eye-opening surface level stats in his 21 games of rookie-debut work in 2021 leading to him getting a job out of Spring Training on the Astros MLB roster. 2022 has not followed the same story as his lack of plate discipline and swing and miss have been a big problem. He’s currently sporting a 31% strikeout rate with a 7% walk rate. At his best, he could be a .250 hitter and go 20/20. That will likely take some significant changes to get there and he’s more likely a second division regular/4th outfielder type that would mash over in Asia. Tier None for now - keep an eye on his plate discipline numbers to see if there are substantive changes to lead to a climb into Tier 3.

Angel Zerpa - Royals - Back-end rotation arm who made one really nice start at the end of 2021 after spending most of the year in Double-A. There was some outside chance that he could ride that success to a starting role in 2022, but he was sent back to Double-A to start the year. Relies on a mid-90s four-seam fastball to do the heavy lifting followed by above average slider and changeup for his three-pitch mix. Has good command and at 22 years old, the pieces are all there to cement his role as a future SP4. He’s on the verge of Tier 3 for me, but I’m not completely bought in yet, so he gets a top of Tier None slot for now.

Janson Junk - Angels - Acquired by the Angels along with Elvis Peguero at the 2021 trade deadline from the Yankees in exchange for Andrew Heaney. A pop-up prospect in 2021 that had been off radars since being a 22nd round draft pick of the Yankees in 2017. Throws a four-seamer that mostly sits around 93. Has a sweeping slider and a curveball that are both effective pitches when well commanded. Occasionally the slider will lose its shape and look more like his curve. Not a strikeout pitcher at the moment. Mostly relies on generating weak/ground ball contact. The most likely outcome is that he is an SP4 with a bit of upside. The downside is a multi-inning relief arm. If he was more of a strike thrower, I would probably have pushed him into Tier 3. Had a rookie auto in 2022 Series 1, but this is his first flagship base rookie card.

Ryan Feltner - Rockies - All Rockies pitchers are Tier None unless proven otherwise. I’m sorry, but them’s the rules. I don’t make them, I just follow them. His fastball is the star of the show with good metrics. He’ll throw a slider and a curveball with a rare changeup every now and then. Those pitches have not been that effective and are the key to seeing if he can stick in the rotation long term. Had a rough two-start debut in 2021, put up three decent to good games in 2022, and then got blown up by the Braves in his first start in June, resulting in him being sent back down to Triple-A. Anywhere but Colorado and there might be some Tier 3 consideration.

Luis Frias - Diamondbacks - He tantalized me when I looked at him last spring in my 2021 Bowman Baseball preview and ended up in Tier 3 as I saw a potential mid-rotation starter with a big time fastball. A year later and some of the shine has come off of Frias leading me to knock him down into the upper half of Tier None. The Diamondbacks don’t seem convinced he’s a starting pitcher and he’s been struggling in the relief appearances he’s gotten so far in 2022. A fastball in the mid to high 90s is his go-to pitch with a couple of different breakers that haven’t reached their potential yet. Has a starter’s frame, so there’s still a chance he could find a role there as he’s had a ton of minor league success in the role. However, given the young arms in the Diamondbacks pipeline and the MLB struggles, there is more and more sentiment leaning towards a future bullpen role where his fastball can play up.

Glenn Otto - Rangers - Acquired from the Yankees at the 2021 trade deadline along with Trevor Hauver, Ezequiel Duran, and Josh Smith for Joey Gallo (and Joely Rodriguez). Backend rotation starter with a full complement of pitches in his arsenal. Slider and curveball, sometimes seemingly almost the same pitch given their similar velocities, are the best of the bunch. The slider is getting a nice 17 SwStr% in 2022 so far. He’s not getting a good amount of strikeouts overall though. All in all, a nice baseball piece and relevant in deeper fantasy leagues but not relevant in the hobby.

Connor Seabold - Red Sox - Backend starter profile that should be able to stick in the rotation. low 90’s fastball that plays up with plus IVB and VAA characteristics. That helps his secondaries play up, especially his changeup. Will also throw a curveball and a slider, but those are average pitches at the moment. Only had one game in 2021 at the MLB level as a COVID call-up for Chris Sale and has spent all of 2022 in Triple-A including a stint on the IL for a strained pectoral. More of a floor projection than a ceiling projection which keeps him in Tier None as opposed to Tier 3.

Connor Overton - Pirates* - A backend starting pitcher who's now on his 6th organization in the Cincinnati Reds (even though he’s a Pirates player in this product). You’d hope at least one of those six teams thought enough to trade for him, but nope, they were all via free agent/waiver claims. That being said, credit to Overton for making it to the big leagues, and even more so in putting up good surface stats in a small 2022 sample so far for the Reds. He’s mostly relying on getting ground balls and avoiding barrels with a variety of pitches. Not a strikeout guy, further limiting his hobby upside. SP5 second division pitcher that could easily end up pitching in Asia at some point in the near future is always going to be a Tier None pitcher.

Joan Adon - Nationals - A top 10 Nationals prospect that had a really nice one-game debut in 2021. On the other hand, 2022 has been very rough for Adon. Leads with a 4-seam fastball around 96-97 throwing it about 70% of the time. Is mostly throwing a curveball as his second pitch and not really doing much with anything else. If he can get his changeup or slider dialed in, he may find more success. The Nationals sure need starting pitching, so I wouldn’t be surprised if Adon has a long leash. As it stands now, on a more competitive team, Adon would be back in the minors or toiling in the bullpen with his limited arsenal. I like his long term outlook as a potential SP3-4, but it will take some patience to get there. There have been promising flashes - seriously go watch his sequence of striking out Trout and Ohtani back to back in early May. If he gets to that mid-rotation starter potential, it’s Tier 3 upside. At the moment, given his poor performance in 2022 and his future bullpen risk, he’s getting slotted into the top half of Tier None.

Jhonathan Diaz - Angels - Back-end rotation arm that will soak up innings with a kitchen sink approach. Doesn’t throw any of his five pitches more than 30% of the time as he looks to keep hitters off balance and induce weak contact. This is the type of pitcher who catches a team on a bad day after traveling all night with two hours of sleep and throws the most unexpected of perfect games against them and then fades into baseball obscurity along the lines of Philip Humber. Outside of that near impossibility happening, Diaz is a standard Tier None slotting.

Reiver Sanmartin - Reds - Deceptive left-hander that “won” a starting rotation role out of Spring Training for the Reds. With Wade Miley (DFA), Sonny Gray (Trade), and Luis Castillo (Injury) not in the 2022 Reds starting rotation to start the season, Sanmartin got to start the second game of the season. After five lackluster starts, Sanmartin was sent down to Triple-A where he’s also struggled. He’ll throw any of his four pitches - changeup, sinker, slider, 4-seamer with the changeup being the one most leaned upon in his MLB stint in 2022 at roughly 35%. His arm slot and constant mixing of speeds and angles is how he will be successful. That’s a hard path to trod at the MLB level and the more looks major leaguers get at it, the harder it will be to succeed. My feeling is that he ends up in long relief and spot starter territory, which is another standard Tier None profile.

Yonny Hernandez - Rangers* - A speedy second division utility infielder that takes a passive approach at the plate resulting in high walk rates and low strikeout rates. That approach leads to low contact rates but decent OBP which will keep him employed in the short term. Was traded from the Rangers to the Diamondbacks at the beginning of the 2022 season for fringe prospect Jeferson Espinal (athletic outfielder that hasn’t shown baseball instincts yet). I think I’d rather take the outside shot on Espinal becoming something rather than the bench role that Hernandez plays.

Nick Fortes - Marlins - Backup catcher that has enough offensive skills to get some run at the DH when not starting behind the dish. In very small MLB samples in 2021 and 2022, he’s hit really well. Regression is very likely back to his MiLB profile of a .240 or less hitter with single-digit home runs. One other thing of note in his less than ten games at the MLB level in 2022, he’s been hit in the head with heaters twice. Thank goodness for helmet technology as he got back up with no ill effects in either case. A Tier None backup catcher profile unless the unlikely outcome of his small sample success turning into large sample success comes out of left field (or from behind the dish in this case).

Greg Deichmann - Cubs - At his best, he’s a plus OBP corner power bat or perhaps even a Hunter Renfroe type without the plus defense. Too often he seems to be trending towards a streaky Quad A bat that strikes out more than you’d like without showing the in-game power that his raw pop promises. I wouldn’t be surprised if Diechmann turns into a contributor at the MLB level for a few years with 20+ home run pop. I also would be even less surprised if he ended up as a second division bench bat that ends up in Asia in a few years. Of the two, the second feels more likely and with him going unclaimed on waivers already once this year, it results in a Tier None ranking for me.

Yohel Pozo - Rangers - Primarily a catcher but is probably better suited to a 1B/DH role given his size and lack of mobility behind the dish. An aggressive hitter that makes a good amount of contact that results in a low strikeout rate but also a very low walk rate. Given his deficiencies on the defensive side, he’s mostly a fringe major leaguer that will bounce around the backend of rosters across second division teams. There might be quick sell opportunities if he gets hot as he has above average power, but other than that, very little of interest here. Our own Jake Kerns gave him a Willians Astudillo comp and that feels quite appropriate. Had a rookie auto in 2022 Series 1, but this is his first flagship base rookie card.

Payton Henry - Marlins - Acquired from the Brewers at the deadline in 2021 for reliever John Curtiss. Henry is a pretty classic backup catcher that has some raw power with hit tool questions. Has all the requisite tools behind the dish to stick there and be an asset, cementing that backup catcher scenario. If he ever, and it’s a big if, figures out the bat side of the equation, he should find a full time role and potentially jump into Tier 3.

Jack López - Red Sox* - Utility player org depth that is now on his fourth team, debuting with the Red Sox in 2021 and signing with the Tigers in the off-season. So far he’s only gotten run in Triple-A, but for a Tigers team that hasn’t been great, he might get some more playing time. Really nothing of interest here.

Brian Miller - Marlins - 36th overall pick out of UNC in 2017, Miller’s prospect status has started to tail off over the last few years to where he’s been left off most Marlins team boards including our own. Had a brief 5 games in the majors in 2021 and then was DFA’d after the season. Re-signed with the Marlins and is not doing much in Triple-A in 2022. There was a potential hit/speed fourth outfielder/second division regular profile in the offering here, but his hit tool has fallen off to the point where he is more emergency depth and a speedy pinch runner. There may have been a Tier 3 player here years ago. Now he’s a standard fare Tier None org depth.

Jon Heasley - Royals - Versatile arm that can provide value as a backend starter or innings eater out of the bullpen. A collection of average pitches with both a four-seam and sinker in the fastball realm and curveball, changeup, and slider as the secondaries. The curveball has the best chance at being more than your average bear as it is getting a healthy 33.3 CSW% in 2022. He’s just your standard order reliable depth arm that won’t have much of a ceiling and is valuable from the baseball perspective but not from the hobby perspective.

Austin Warren - Angels - Middle to back-end relief role depending on how much he can keep the walk rates down. Provided strong value in middle relief for the Angels in his 2021 debut season. Mid-90s fastball with a plus slider. Didn’t have the strongest start to 2022 and then took a stray batting practice ball to nose resulting in a fracture and missing all of May. He’s back in the minors on rehab outings at the moment. At best, he competes for a closer’s role at some point in the future. Currently, he falls into that Tier None bucket of generic relievers.

Mike Baumann - Orioles - Prior to 2022, Baumann was a hard-throwing starting pitcher with three above average offerings and when controlled, the slider has plus potential. There has been a looming specter of relief risk but the Orioles had him on that starter’s path all the way up until his MLB debut in late 2021. Now he’s being used exclusively out of the pen and the results have left a fair amount to be desired. As a starting pitcher there was a glimmer of Tier 3 back-end rotation hope, but that has been snuffed out, at least for the time being.


Stephen Ridings - Yankees - 6’8” relief arm that throws upper 90’s plus heater and pairs it with a hard up and down slider. Both pitches can get whiffs, with the slider getting whiffs mostly because hitters are geared to catch up to the heat. Potential high leverage relief arm in a Yankees uniform could squeak him into Tier 3, but he’s been dealing with dreaded shoulder issues in 2022 and had to stop his throwing program in rehab recently.

Marcos Diplán - Orioles - Low leverage relief arm with a variety of pitches and command issues. Four seamer sits around 93 with a curveball and changeup as his main secondaries. Another player that is going into that Tier None bucket of generic relievers.

Cooper Criswell - Angels - Tall, skinny pitcher that throws from an almost sidearm slot. Sinker, slider, and changeup without much velocity. Relies on that arm slot to keep hitters off balance and generate weak contact. Has been a starter, but looks like a middle innings bullpen arm/spot starter to me. Went on the injured list with shoulder inflammation to start the season, making it even easier to put him into Tier None.

Mark Kolozsvary - Reds - He had his MLB debut in 2022, but he was called up in September 2021 for a couple of days, did not play, and was sent back down to the minors. This is apparently enough to qualify him for a rookie card in the eyes of Topps and the MLB. On the short side, Kolozsvary is a third catcher that provides decent defensive value but leaves the offensive side of his game wanting. Below average bat and in-game power although there is some raw pop in there.

Packy Naughton - Angels* - Our favorite 1880s dock worker is trying to make sure he plays for all of the MLB orgs with red as their primary uniform color. Started with the Reds (obviously) as a 2017 9th round draft pick, was traded to the Angels at the deadline in 2020 for Brian Goodwin, and then claimed off of waivers in the spring of 2022 by the Cardinals. I’m pretty sure he eventually makes his way in the future to the Nationals and Red Sox orgs as well. A swingman, mutli-inning reliever pitchability lefty with a variety of offerings. Soft tosser that is looking to generate weak contact and ground balls. Nothing of interest here hobby-wise and an easy Tier None call.

Elvis Peguero - Angels - Acquired by the Angels along with Janson Junk for Andrew Heaney at the 2021 trade deadline. Potential plus fastball slider combo lacking command reliever. If he can find the command, he can be an effective bullpen piece. If not, he’s likely going to bounce around upper minors and second division bullpens for the next few years. To the Tier None reliever bucket he goes.

TJ Friedl - Reds - Versatile fourth outfielder type that has plus plate discipline and will provide some speed on the base paths. There is little power in the profile at the moment, although playing in Great American Smallpark means he should pick up some home runs regardless. Already having passed through Rule 5 drafts without being selected in the past, he’s a fringe 40-man type of guy that will probably bounce around the league during his prime.

A.J. Alexy - Texas Rangers- Acquired by the Rangers along with Willie Calhoun and Brendon Davis for Yu Darvish at the 2017 trade deadline. Will teams ever learn not to trade with the Dodgers? Alexy has recently cleaned up his mechanics to keep a back end starting role in the cards. Four pitch mix with a above average fastball and curveball, average slider, and a show-me changeup. His floor is a multi-inning, low leverage type of reliever that’s had command challenges in the past. Going to take a fair amount of changes for him to climb out of Tier None.

Oliver Ortega - Angels - Classic Tier None middle reliever with an above average two-pitch mix and below average command. Fastball in the upper 90’s with a 12-6/12-7 curveball is the mix. He’s been an effective bullpen piece for the Angels and could see more high leverage work with improved command.

Jacob Robson - Tigers - The Maple Hammer is an org depth piece that can provide some emergency outfield depth with some speed on the basepaths, but really nothing much more to speak of here. Robson, more than anything, will likely be the target of Tigers fans’ ire because they were hoping they would get a shot at a Spencer Torkelson rookie card in this product and instead get…Jacob…Robson.

Kutter Crawford - Red Sox - Has been a starter throughout his minor league career, but won a bullpen role to start the 2022 season in Boston. It wasn’t exactly the best of results with an 8.44 ERA through 9 relief appearances and he got sent back to Triple-A in mid-May, where he resumed starting games. Throws a mid-90s 4-seamer up in the zone and a plus high-80s cutter. Variety of other secondary pitches in his arsenal that he’s tried to find success with but has yet to really do so.

Had some command issues in the past that seemed to be getting better, but left a lot of pitches in the zone at the MLB level. Potential for a future backend SP role if his command continues to improve and he gets an effective third pitch. Most likely outcome is that middle-inning relief role that he won out of Spring Training. Not much to get excited about other than a cool first name, which isn’t enough to get him out of Tier None.

Henry Ramos - Diamondbacks - Fifth outfielder type that had a lackluster MLB debut for the Diamondbacks at the age of 29. The older brother of Giants prospect Heliot Ramos. Put up decent numbers at various times throughout his minor league career. Above average defender with decent strikeout rates but hasn’t put up a double-digit walk rate since 2013. After being granted Free Agency following the 2021 season, he signed with the KT Wiz of the KBO. However, he ended up breaking a bone in his foot in April and being released before being able to return in May. We’ll see where Ramos ends up next, but any chance at hobby interest has long since gone.

Jovani Moran - Twins - Backend bullpen lefty that got roughed up in 2021 but has been almost lights out in 2022. Lacks velocity but still is able to generate all of the numbers you want to see outside of walk rate. High end CSW rates, limits hard contact, gets a lot of ground balls, etc. Small sample sizes and all that, but he could be in line for some closer duty in the future if he keeps this up. That could lead to a minor bump in hobby interest. However, until then, not much to get excited about.

Kervin Castro - Giants - Relief arm that will throw a 95-96 fastball with an above average curveball with inconsistent command. Had a decent 2021 debut but has not repeated in the few innings he’s gotten with the big league club in 2022. Will throw for strikes but doesn’t do anything of particular note. Nothing to see here.

Justin Bruihl - Dodgers - Middle inning left-hand reliever that will occasionally pick up an opener role. Looks to mostly induce ground balls by throwing an 86 mph cutter roughly 70% of the time that ends up on the glove side of the plate most of the time. He throws a sweeping slider that is his main secondary that at its best is a whiff generator. As with the majority of bullpen-only arms, Bruihl won’t have much hobby interest and ends up in Tier None.

Charlie Barnes - Twins - Soft tossing pitchability left hander featuring a sinker, changeup, and slider arsenal. Debuted with the Twins in 2021 and then signed with the Lotte Giants in the Korean Baseball League (KBO). Didn’t have much MLB success in the small sample of nine games, but has pitched well in the KBO albeit against lesser competition. A back-end pitcher at best that has already pulled the ripcord to head over to Asia isn’t going to lead to any hobby interest.

Sean Guenther - Marlins -Lefty reliever featuring a 93 MPH four seamer and an 82 MPH slider with the occasional changeup. Had strong strikeout rates in the minors but was unable to show that same skill in his 14 games at the MLB level in his 2021 debut. Went under the knife for Tommy John surgery in April. Relievers almost always belong in Tier None, and then there are relievers who’ve recently undergone Tommy John surgery, which should be a tier below Tier None.

Final Thoughts

I WAS struggling to come up with a Flagship checklist that has been this bad since I’ve gotten back into the hobby. And then, as people started opening and posting their hits on social media and for sale on ebay on the day before the official release, we came to see that Topps made a surprisingly smart choice by including a Wander Franco Home Field Advantage card as well as base short prints of some of the most desirable rookies in Julio Rodriguez, Bobby Witt Jr., and Spencer Torkelson. What started out as a thumbs down has been turned into a thumbs up. I like to keep it fair, and I do criticize Topps when they warrant that feedback. In this case, I have to drop some praise for the HFA and short print rookie decisions. Good job Topps.


What cards to look for in 2022 Topps opening day? ›

The most valuable card of 2022 Topps Opening Day is currently 2022 Topps Opening Day #208b Wander Franco with a worth of approx. $152.50. The most traded card of 2022 Topps Opening Day in the past 30 days on eBay was for 2022 Topps Opening Day #208 Wander Franco with 8 trades and an average price of $1.16.

What is the best card Topps Baseball 2022? ›

The most valuable card of 2022 Topps is currently 2022 Topps #215d Wander Franco PSA 10 with a worth of approx. $936.09. The most traded card of 2022 Topps in the past 30 days on eBay was for 2022 Topps Home Field Advantage #HA-2 Ronald Acuna Jr.

What is the best card to pull from the Topps 2023 Series 1? ›

The card company will continue to offer some flagship limited edition cards for the 2023 season. One of the top picks from the Topps Series 1 rookie card was Michael Harris II. Other top cards include Bret Baty RC, Christopher Morel, and J J Bleday.

Who is number 1 in 2022 topps? ›

2022 Topps #1 Shohei Ohtani NM-MT Angels.


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