2023 Topps Series 1 Rookies: What Topps Rookie Cards Are In This Series? [Tiers Updated]

February 22, 2023

If the Topps Baseball release is something of a holiday every year, marking the start of a new collecting year, then the rookie cards in that set are certainly a continuation of the theme of rebirth, youth, and potential.

But why are Topps rookie cards such a big deal? And what rookie cards are in 2023 Topps?

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2023 Topps Series 1 Baseball release

The 2023 Topps Series 1 Baseball release is scheduled for February 15, 2023. There’s a lot to like in the set, and the price point is reasonable, especially if you can snag some Jumbo boxes.

If you want to learn more about what 2023 Topps Series 1 Baseball contains, you can check out our in-depth review.

2023 Topps Series 1 Baseball: The Beginning of a New Baseball Card Season is Upon Us

But today, we’re here to talk about rookie cards, always a big part of just about any card release.

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Why Topps Rookie Cards are so sought-after

Many of the players who will have rookie cards will have appeared on cards prior to 2023. Some of them were several years before. These tend to be in draft pick or prospect sets, often produced by Bowman, Panini, and others.

Starting in 2006, the rules around what could be a true rookie card changed. In order to have a card with the rookie card designation, a player had to appear on a team’s 25-man (now 26) roster. For obvious reasons, this doesn’t happen until the player reaches the major leagues.

Overall, this was a good thing, in my opinion. While draft picks and prospects still are valuable and of interest to collectors, there’s something nice about a player’s rookie card appearing around the time they make their major league debut.

Considering that prior to this rule, you were seeing prospect cards, draft pick cards, and even college and high school cards, the chase to release the very first card of a player was getting rather ridiculous. The rule is likely what saved us from “future star” cards of newborn babies or with ultrasound photos.

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What determines what rookies appear in Topps Series 1?

With the production process of cards, it makes sense that there is some lead time between when a player is added to the major league roster and a card can be produced. Sure, Topps Now tends to be a nice stopgap, but these are not considered true rookie cards.

Some players will have had their rookie cards in Series 1, a few in Series 2, and then any that make their debut early enough in the season, in Update. Generally speaking, players who debut after a certain point in the season tend to see their flagship rookie cards land the next year.

With 2023 Topps Series 1 Baseball, that cutout date was likely sometime in mid-May 2022. Players who made their big league debut after this time period are likely to have their rookie card in 2023 Topps Series 1, although a few may be held over for Series 2.

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Rookies in 2023 Topps Series 1 Baseball

Pitchers and catchers will report to spring training on February 15, the same day that 2023 Topps Series 1 will hit shelves! The first part of Topps’ flagship baseball release kicks off with 56 new rookie cards.

The strength of the 2023 Topps Series 1 rookie class is a pleasant surprise. Baltimore Orioles teammates Adley Rutschman and Gunnar Henderson headline the impressive crop of rookies, but there are 10 others I’m seriously excited for.

As always, I’ve broken every player with RC status down into potential investment tiers. Tiers 1 and 2 are ordered from the players I’d be most to least likely to invest in. Tiers 3 and 4 are in numerical order based on the player’s card number.

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The table below allows you to filter the rookies in 2023 Topps Series 1 by team, position, and tier.

wdt_IDCard #PlayerTeamPositionTier
115Michael GroveLos Angeles DodgersP4
216Nolan GormanSt. Louis Cardinals2B2
331Riley GreeneDetroit TigersCF1
434Zack ThompsonSt. Louis CardinalsP4
537Josh SmithTexas Rangers3B/OF4
641Brian ServenColorado RockiesC4
752Matthew LiberatoreSt. Louis CardinalsP3
856Jermaine PalaciosMinnesota Twins2B/SS4
958Iván HerreraSt. Louis CardinalsC4
1067Travis SwaggertyPittsburgh PiratesOF4
1169Caleb KilianChicago CubsP4
1276Josh WinckowskiBoston Red SoxP4
1387Ethan SmallMilwaukee BrewersP4
1489Brett BatyNew York Mets3B1
1590Korey LeeHouston AstrosC4
1692Triston CasasBoston Red Sox1B2
1794Oswald PerazaNew York Yankees2B/SS2
1895Jonah BrideOakland Athletics2B/SS4
1997Brandon HughesChicago CubsP4
20111Hunter BrownHouston AstrosP3
21119Oscar GonzalezCleveland GuardiansRF3
22127Shea LangeliersOakland AthleticsC/DH3
23129Nolan JonesCleveland GuardiansRF3
24135Buddy KennedyArizona Diamondbacks2B4
25138Marcus WilsonSeattle MarinersOF4
26140Lenyn SosaChicago White Sox2B/SS4
27154Jonathan ArandaTampa Bay RaysIF4
28156Kyle StowersBaltimore OriolesOF3
29163Miguel VargasLos Angeles Dodgers1B/OF2
30165Jeter DownsBoston Red SoxIF3
31167Michael MasseyKansas City Royals2B4
32169Gabriel MorenoToronto Blue JaysC2
33176Kody ClemensDetroit Tigers1B/3B4
34182Nick PrattoKansas City Royals1B/OF3
35185Brayan BelloBoston Red SoxP3
36188Davis MartinChicago White SoxP4
37205JJ BledayMiami MarlinsOF3
38206Gunnar HendersonBaltimore OriolesSS/3B1
39209Darick HallPhiladelphia Phillies1B/DH3
40214Graham AshcraftCincinnati RedsP4
41226Michael Harris IIAtlanta BravesCF1
42238Liover PegueroPittsburgh PiratesSS3
43243Evan LeeWashington NationalsP4
44250Adley RutschmanBaltimore OriolesC1
45251Max CastilloKansas City RoyalsP4
46259Mark AppelPhiladelphia PhilliesP3
47264Steele WalkerSan Francisco GiantsOF4
48275Vaughn GrissomAtlanta Braves2B/SS1
49276David MacKinnonOakland Athletics1B/3B4
50277David VillarSan Francisco Giants1B/3B4
51286Ezequiel DuranTexas Rangers2B/3B3
52302Vinnie PasquantinoKansas City Royals1B/DH2
53308Christoper MorelChicago CubsIF/OF3
54313Cal MitchellPittsburgh PiratesRF4
55318Jerar EncarnacionMiami MarlinsOF4
56320Cade CavalliWashington NationalsP3
Card #PlayerTeamPositionTier

Continue reading below for detailed analysis on the players in Tier 1 and 2!

Tier 1: Rookies worth ripping for in 2023 Topps Series 1

Adley Rutschman, Baltimore Orioles catcher (#250)

According to Baseball America:

  • Baltimore Orioles #1 prospect in 2022
  • MLB #1 prospect in 2022
  • Final Grade: 75
2019 (Rk,A)3719842613.0%17.5%.254.351.423.774
2021 (AA,AAA)1238625237514.6%16.6%.285.397.502.899
2022 (AAA)2012531013.1%9.5%.304.417.507.924
2022 (MLB)1137035134213.8%18.3%.254.362.445.806

Adley Rutschman exceeded my expectations and more during his rookie season. I wrote about him shortly before his MLB debut right here at CardLines and, despite loving him, didn’t think that anything he did would satisfy the investors who’ve been chasing him since he was the No. 1 pick in the 2019 MLB Draft. I’m pleased to admit that I was wrong.

Once the switch-hitting catcher found his footing, he took off and catapulted the Baltimore Orioles into playoff contention. He does everything well, getting on base and slugging well above average and driving balls all over the field.

He raked in the second half, slashing .275/.399/.462 with 20 doubles and 8 home runs. In just a short time, Rutschman established himself as the Orioles’ franchise cornerstone and proved why the hobby hyped him up the way he did.

Shop for 2023 Topps Adley Rutschman rookie cards on eBay

Rutschman entered the season ranked as the No. 1 prospect in baseball and is an even better bet today to be a franchise player. He had one of the best seasons ever for a rookie catcher, batting .254/.362/.445 with 13 home runs and 65 walks in 113 games, while playing Gold Glove-caliber defense and showing himself to be a team leader.

Matt Eddy, Baseball America
adley rutschman 2023 Topps Series 1 rookie

Gunnar Henderson, Baltimore Orioles SS/3B (#206)

According to Baseball America:

  • Baltimore Orioles #1 prospect in 2023
  • MLB #1 prospect in 2023
  • Grades: Hit: 60 | Power: 70 | Run: 60 | Field: 60 | Arm: 70
2019 (Rk)29215129.1%23.1%.259.331.370.701
2021 (A,AA)1056828171612.1%30.9%.258.350.476.826
2022 (AA,AAA)11210124192215.7%23.1%.297.416.531.946
2022 (MLB)341274112.1%25.8%.259.348.440.788

There aren’t any questions about who the top prospect is coming into 2023. Baseball America, MLB Pipeline, and FanGraphs all agree: it’s Gunnar Henderson. All of his tools grade plus or better. He fell just shy of back-to-back 20 homer/20 stolen base seasons in the minor leagues in 2021 and 2022, and there’s little doubt he’s capable of that during his first full season in 2023.

Henderson posts impressive exit velocities and barrels up balls frequently. His 92.4 MPH average exit velocity was in the 96th percentile, and 33.3% hard contact rate was in the 93rd percentile. These are small sample sizes, of course, but they back up the numbers he posted in the minor leagues and provide a glimpse of what’s to come during his first full season in the big leagues.

Shop for2023 Topps Gunnar Henderson rookie cards on eBay

Henderson reaching the majors this quickly and succeeding in the manner he has puts his career on a steep upward trajectory. The Orioles believe he can be an MVP-caliber player, but at worst he can be a regular all-star who will be a cornerstone in the ongoing Orioles turnaround.

A well-rounded player with few weaknesses, Henderson has the speed, strength and athleticism to impact the game in multiple ways and is ready for a starring role in Baltimore after making his major league debut last year.

Baseball America

Michael Harris II, Atlanta Braves CF (#226)

According to Baseball America:

  • Atlanta Braves #1 prospect in 2022
  • MLB #46 prospect in 2022
  • Final Grade: 65
2019 (Rk,A)53268288.5%19.8%.277.344.393.737
2021 (A)10155267278.3%18.1%.294.362.436.798
2022 (AA)4333165118.7%19.9%.305.372.506.878
2022 (MLB)114752719204.8%24.3%.297.339.514.853

Centerfielder Michael Harris II was fantastic for the Atlanta Braves in 2022, earning him the NL Rookie of the Year Award and an 8-year, $72 million contract extension. There wasn’t a ton of hobby hype around Harris before the season began. In mid-February, a PSA 10 of his 1st Bowman refractor autograph was valued at $475. At its peak this season, one sold for $1,500.

Harris’ batting average (.297) and slugging percentage (.514) were elite in 2022. He was one home run shy of a 20/20 season and played fantastic defense for the division-winning Braves. During his rookie campaign, he proved to be an impact player that Atlanta felt comfortable locking down for the long term.

Shop for 2023 Topps Michael Harris III rookie cards on eBay

The Braves dipped down to Double-A to call up Harris on May 28 and he helped ignite the club’s offense. He led all NL rookies in WAR thanks to a .297/.339/.514 batting line with 19 homers and 20 steals, backed by Gold Glove-caliber defense in center field. Harris looks like a future all-star.

Matt Eddy, Baseball America
michael harris 2023 topps

Riley Greene, Detroit Tigers CF (#31)

According to Baseball America:

  • Detroit Tigers #1 prospect in 2022
  • MLB #4 prospect in 2022
  • Final Grade: 60
2019 (Rk,A)57348558.8%25.1%.271.347.403.749
2021 (AA,AAA)1249525241611.3%27.4%.301.387.534.921
2022 (AAA)17104149.3%18.7%.279.347.382.729
2022 (MLB)934618518.6%28.7%.253.321.362.682

With the breakouts of rookies like Julio Rodríguez, Adley Rutschman, and Michael Harris II, Riley Greene’s freshman campaign can be described as underwhelming.

I think it’s unfair, however, to expect any top prospect to put up MVP-level numbers during their first stint in the big leagues. Greene has a strong track record of mashing in the minor leagues, but a broken foot in spring training kept him out until mid-June when the Detroit Tigers were 25-40 off most fans and investors’ minds.

Like nearly all rookies, Greene had ebbs and flows at the plate. He blasted his first walk-off home run and punished a pitch from Shohei Ohtani that flew farther than any homer the two-way superstar had ever given up.

Opposing pitchers also exposed Greene’s propensity for strikeouts, especially on breaking pitches. I think it’s important to remember, however, that this is a common theme among inexperienced hitters and nothing to freak out about from an investment standpoint.

Shop for Riley Greene 2023 Topps rookie cards on eBay

Greene injured his foot in spring training, which delayed his MLB debut until June 18. He performed at a roughly league-average rate as a 21-year-old big leaguer by hitting .253/.321/.362. Bigger picture: Greene proved himself capable in center field and had some of the best plate discipline markers among rookies. The 2023 season could mean growth for Greene.

Matt Eddy, Baseball America

Brett Baty, New York Mets 3B (#89)

According to Baseball America:

  • New York Mets #2 prospect in 2023
  • MLB #33 prospect in 2023
  • Grades: Hit: 60 | Power: 55 | Run: 45 | Field: 45 | Arm: 60
2019 (Rk,A)51371673315.3%28.5%.234.368.452.821
2021 (A,AA)914322125611.9%25.5%.292.382.473.855
2022 (AA,AAA)957622196011.7%24.8%.315.410.533.943
2022 (MLB)1140254.8%19.1%.184.244.342.586

Brett Baty’s call-up and debut were highly anticipated. He hit a home run in his first plate appearance but struggled over the next 10 games before suffering a season-ending thumb injury. After the first taste of the big leagues and now that he’s healthy, no one expects those struggles to continue.

Baty mashed in the minor leagues, hitting .312/.406/.544 at Double-A in 2022. He hasn’t yet found a way to get to his raw power, which some scouts give a 70 grade, in games, but the potential is there for upwards of 20 homers.

When it was announced that the Mets were signing Carlos Correa to play third base, Baty’s future seemed in limbo. The deal, as we all know by now, fell through and gave the 23-year-old a clearer path to the big leagues to start 2023.

Shop for 2023 Topps Bretty Baty rookie cards on eBay

Baty is a polished hitter with the ability to make consistent hard contact, as displayed by his 51% hard-hit rate in 2022. He homered in his first MLB at-bat and did not look over-matched in his 11 games with the Mets.

Baty is a good hitter with power and will bat toward the middle of the Mets’ lineup at his peak.

Baseball America

Vaughn Grissom, Atlanta Braves SS (#275)

According to Baseball America:

  • Atlanta Braves #12 prospect in 2022
  • Final Grade: 55
2019 (Rk)44227338.7%14.7%.288.361.400.761
2021 (A)87641771611.8%14.2%.319.418.464.882
2022 (A,AA)96722014278.1%12.2%.324.405.494.899
2022 (MLB)41246557.1%21.8%.291.353.440.792

Vaughn Grissom jumped straight from Double-A to the big leagues, getting unexpected playing time with the Atlanta Braves because of an injury to second baseman Ozzie Albies. He exceeded expectations, slashing .291/.353/.440 with a rather memorable debut homer over the Green Monster complete with a majestic bat flip.

I waffled back and forth on the final player to include in Tier 1 and first player in Tier 2, ultimately bumping Grissom to Tier 1 and moving Oswald Peraza to Tier 2.

For me, the deciding factor was how comfortable the Braves seemed in letting shortstop Dansby Swanson walk away in free agency and thus putting their faith in Grissom as the team’s next shortstop.

Shop for 2023 Topps Vaughn Grissom rookie cards on eBay

Grissom began the season in High-A and finished it in Atlanta. He had a long run as the club’s second baseman as he filled in for the injured Ozzie Albies. Grissom hit .291/.353/.440 with five homers in 41 games, and given his youth and aptitude he looks like a potential above-average regular.

Matt Eddy, Baseball America

Tier 2: Rookies I like that won’t break the bank in 2023 Topps Series 1

Oswald Peraza, New York Yankees 2B/SS (#94)

According to Baseball America:

  • New York Yankees #2 prospect in 2023
  • MLB #62 prospect in 2023
  • Grades: Hit: 55 | Power: 45 | Run: 55 | Field: 60 | Arm: 55
2018 (FRk)5844130138.9%14.7%.282.381.368.750
2018 (Rk)36253188.8%25.8%.250.333.321.655
2019 (A)653864237.2%12.6%.263.332.340.672
2021 (A,AA,AAA)115762618387.2%21.7%.297.356.477.834
2022 (MLB)18831210.5%15.8%.306.404.429.832

Like I mentioned above, the last spot in Tier 1 and first in Tier 2 was between Grissom and Oswald Peraza. One thing working against Peraza for me was the other Yankees shortstop, Anthony Volpe. Baseball America’s scouts give Volpe the edge for hit and power tools, and both players tied at 55 grades for speed. Peraza is easily the better defender, but that doesn’t carry much weight for investors.

To Peraza’s credit, however, he played well enough during his brief stint with the Yankees in September. He slashed .306/.404/.429 in the last month of the 2022 season, enough to earn a spot on the Yankees’ ALCS roster.

He has the tools to hit for at least 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases when give a full season’s worth of at-bats, something that will make him popular in the hobby.

Both Peraza and Volpe will battle it out in spring training for the Yankees’ Opening Day shortstop role, but Peraza seems like the likely choice. My worry here is that investors will seek only one of these players, and it’s probably going to be Volpe. 

Shop for Oswald Peraza 2023 Topps rookie cards on eBay

One of the better defensive shortstops in the Top 100, Peraza has carried forward the progress he made to his batting profile during the 2020 shutdown. He hits the ball hard consistently and makes good zone contact. Peraza made his MLB debut in 2022 and is ready for a larger role.

Peraza has the defensive chops to be the Yankees’ long-term shortstop, especially if they choose to push Anthony Volpe to second base, where his range would be an asset with shift restrictions coming into play, and make him and Peraza their future double-play combo.

Baseball America

Gabriel Moreno, Toronto Blue Jays C (#169)

According to Baseball America:

  • Arizona Diamondbacks #2 prospect in 2023
  • MLB #12 prospect in 2023
  • Grades: Hit: 70 | Power: 45 | Run: 40 | Field: 60 | Arm: 60
2017 (FRk)32940174.4%3.7%.
2018 (Rk)4024174364.2%12.0%.359.395.575.970
2019 (A)82471712526.5%11.1%.280.337.485.823
2021 (AA,AAA)3730108458.8%15.7%.367.434.6261.060
2022 (AAA)6235163399.0%16.9%.315.386.420.806
2022 (MLB)25101175.5%11.0%.319.356.377.733

Although you’ll see Gabriel Moreno in a Toronto Blue Jays uniform on his 2023 Topps Series 1 rookie card, you’ll see him in an Arizona Diamondbacks uniform on the field in 2023. Toronto traded him to Arizona for catcher/outfielder Daulton Varsho. Moreno is the Diamondbacks No. 2 prospect, right behind outfielder Corbin Carroll. (I expect Carroll to headline the 2023 Topps Series 2 checklist.)

Moreno is an elite hitter who hit at every stop in the minor leagues. He made his major league debut mid-season, spending about a month with the team before returning to Triple-A.

The Blue Jays called him up in mid-September, giving him a handful of at-bats at the end of the season. Moreno hit well during those 25 games despite the infrequent playing time.

The biggest question mark I see here is how much power we’ll see from the D-Backs’ new catcher. He’s dealt with wrist and thumb injuries which may deplete some of the power, possibly affecting his value in the hobby.

Shop for 2023 Topps Gabriel Moreno rookie cards on eBay

Moreno continued to hit, hit and hit some more as he rose from Triple-A to the majors last year. Although he faces questions about his power following a wrist injury, his knack for contact and advanced defense behind the plate give him a chance to be one of baseball’s top catchers regardless.

Moreno got on-the-job training in MLB in 2022. He made appearances at second base, third base and left field in order to increase his flexibility, but his future is behind the plate. He’ll have the opportunity to seize a larger share of the catching duties in 2023 and could be on his way to becoming an all-star.

Baseball America

Miguel Vargas, Los Angeles Dodgers 1B/OF (#163)

According to Baseball America:

  • Los Angeles Dodgers #3 prospect in 2023
  • MLB #30 prospect in 2023
  • Grades: Hit: 65 | Power: 50 | Run: 60 | Field: 40 | Arm: 55
2018 (Rk,A)5335152710.0%15.7%.330.404.465.869
2019 (A)12476387139.8%14.8%.308.380.440.820
2021 (A,AA)120982723118.3%16.4%.319.380.526.906
2022 (AAA)11310032171613.7%14.6%.304.404.511.915
2022 (MLB)1841114.0%26.0%.

Miguel Vargas is an interesting player that has improved his stock recently. Scouts love his hit tool, with those at Baseball America praising his “innate sense for which pitches to attack and an elite feel for the barrel.”

They also point out the improvements he made this offseason that led to a significant boost from a 45 (fringe-average) runner to a 60 (plus) one.

Vargas’ defense leaves a lot to be desired, but the Dodgers front office has publicly said they expect him to assume the second base duties in 2023. This will give Vargas a ton of playing time and the ability to prove his bat is worth keeping him in the lineup despite a shaky defense.

Shop for 2023 Topps Miguel Vargas rookie cards on eBay

Vargas hit .304/.404/.511 over 113 Triple-A games in 2022, then made his major league debut in early August and had two stints with the Dodgers late in the season. Vargas is an advanced hitter with excellent bat-to-ball skills, on-base ability and average power.

Vargas earns frequent comparisons to countryman Yuli Gurriel and has similar potential to be a premier hitter who contends for batting titles. The Dodgers will try to find Vargas’ best position to get him in the lineup every day in 2023.

Baseball America

Triston Casas, Boston Red Sox 1B (#92)

According to Baseball America:

  • Boston Red Sox #2 prospect in 2023
  • MLB #29 prospect in 2023
  • Grades: Hit: 55 | Power: 65 | Run: 30 | Field: 55 | Arm: 50
2019 (A)1206626208111.6%23.6%.256.350.480.830
2021 (AA,AAA)866315145915.4%19.1%.279.394.484.877
2022 (AAA)764823124114.7%21.0%.281.389.500.889
2022 (MLB)2711151220.0%24.2%.197.358.408.766

For older baseball fans, Triston Casas is an enigma; for modern fans, he fits right in to today’s game. Casas’ 2022 batting average was .197, yet his .766 OPS was above league average (113 OPS+).

He fought for the “three true outcomes” crown, striking out 24.2% of the time, walking 20.0%, and homering 5.3%. Only 13 hitters with as many plate appearances had a higher TTO% than Casas’ 49.5%.

While I don’t think this matters to investors (it shouldn’t), it does provide a window into potential risk for investors. Two players with a higher TTO% than Casas last season are on two opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of players investors are interested in: Aaron Judge and Joey Gallo.

This isn’t meant to compare Casas to either of those two players, but more to point to two different pathways Casas could take — a slugger with elite plate discipline that’s well-rounded enough to hit for a high average vs. a slugger with elite plate discipline that is strictly boom or bust.

It’s still so early to categorize the hitter Casas might end up being, but his hitting profile carries probably the highest risk in the top two tiers.

Shop for 2023 Topps Triston Casas rookie cards on ebay

A physically imposing first baseman, Casas is as much a polished hitter as he is a slugger. While Casas’ power is easily plus, he limits strikeouts while displaying advanced on-base ability. After making his major league debut over the final month of the season, Casas looks poised to see a substantial role with the Red Sox in 2023.

Casas will either open 2023 in the big leagues or get there–likely permanently–by early to midseason. He could emerge as a middle-of-the-order force who takes aim at the Green Monster for years to come.

Baseball America

Nolan Gorman, St. Louis Cardinals 2B (#16)

According to Baseball America:

  • St. Louis Cardinals #2 prospect in 2022
  • MLB #34 prospect in 2022
  • Final Grade: 55
2018 (Rk,A)634913174412.4%27.7%.291.380.570.949
2019 (A)125653015628.6%29.7%.248.326.439.765
2021 (AA,AAA)119712025757.3%22.0%.279.333.481.814
2022 (AAA)4335516267.4%36.7%.275.330.585.915
2022 (MLB)89441314359.0%32.9%.226.300.420.721

Nolan Gorman got a lot of playing time with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2022. He slashed .226/.399/.420 in 89 games, good for a touch above average in today’s game.

His power potential lessens the sting of a low average and on-base percentage, but even by today’s standards, his strikeout rate is still far too high. At 32.9%, it was 11th-worst out of 277 hitters with at least 300 plate appearances.

If Gorman can improve his plate discipline and curtail the whiffs, his batted ball profile fits well with the type of player investors love. His 14.0% barrel rate ranked in the 94th percentile (7.4% is league average), and he does a great job at getting balls in the air that go for extra bases.

There’s a lot to like here, but like many young hitters, Gorman will have to refine his approach.

Shop for 2023 Topps Nolan Gorman rookie cards on eBay

Regardless of position, it’ll be Gorman’s bat that makes him an above-average everyday player. He has plus-plus raw power and can hit a home run out of any park. He destroys pitches down in the zone and consistently posts high exit velocities…Gorman is on track to be a middle-of-the order slugger who hits 30-35 home runs per year.

Baseball America

Vinnie Pasquantino, Kansas City Royals 1B/DH (#302)

According to Baseball America:

  • Kansas City Royals #10 prospect in 2022
  • Final Grade: 55
2019 (Rk)574317145310.9%16.1%.294.371.592.963
2021 (A,AA)1167937248412.5%12.5%.300.394.563.957
2022 (AAA)735217187012.8%12.5%.277.371.561.931
2022 (MLB)722510102611.7%11.4%.295.383.450.832

Vinnie Pasquantino, aka the Italian Nightmare, had an impressive rookie season with the Kansas City Royals. The fantasy baseball circle absolutely loves Vinnie P. His plate discipline and contact abilities are elite. Based on his batted ball profile, Baseball Savant lists Freddie Freeman, Corey Seager, and José Abreu as similar batters to the Italian Nightmare.

The Royals’ first baseman kind of snuck up on baseball fans and investors. He was an 11th round draft pick in 2019 and never cracked Top 100 MLB prospect lists. He doesn’t have a ton of cards either. Pasquantino never received a 1st Bowman card, his only Topps card coming from 2022 Topps Now.

He has a few unlicensed cards in Panini products but has mostly flown under the radar. My hunch is that this might make his cards more appealing to collectors and investors ripping 2023 Topps Series 1.

Shop for 2023 Topps Vinnie Pasquantino rookie cards on eBay

Pasquantino was ready when the Royals finally looked his way on June 28. It took a while to get rolling, but he showed first-division upside in his final 40-game stretch by hitting .362/.442/.553 with seven of his 10 homers. Pasquantino has a remarkable batting eye and was one of two rookies along with Steven Kwan to have more walks than strikeouts.

Baseball America

Tier 3: Rookies with a higher risk than the potential investment reward in 2023 Topps Series 1

Matthew Liberatore, St. Louis Cardinals P (#52)

Liberatore was a highly ranked draft prospect that pitched well in the lower levels of Tampa Bay’s minor league system before being traded to St. Louis. Despite the Cardinals promoting him aggressively, he fared well and went on to pitch the Futures Game and for Team USA in the Olympics. Liberatore has a well-rounded pitch mix that will land him in the middle or back-end of the Cardinals’ pitching staff, but I doubt his ability to make the jump to a pitcher worth investing in.

Hunter Brown, Houston Astros P (#111)

Brown, who grew up idolizing Justin Verlander, looks like a mini JV on the mound. He made his debut at the very end of the season, pitching well enough to make the Astros’ postseason rosters and pitch in three playoff games. Brown has a mid-to-upper 90s fastball that flirts with triple digits, as well as a curveball and slider that have the potential to be plus-or-better breaking pitches. Brown has the most upside of any pitcher in 2023 Topps Series 1, but that’s contingent on remaining in the starting rotation. If the Astros move him to the bullpen, all that investment opportunity vanishes.

Oscar Gonzalez, Cleveland Guardians RF (#119)

Gonzalez’s rookie season exceeded all expectations, culminating in 15th inning his walk-off home run that sent the Guardians to the ALDS. It’s going to be hard to top that moment, making him a questionable investment decision. The Guardians also have one of the best players in the game in José Ramírez who investors seem to ignore, making it rather unlikely Gonzalez will set the hobby on fire.

Shea Langeliers, Oakland Athletics C/DH (#127)

Langaeliers is a glove-first catcher that has the misfortune of playing for the worst team in baseball. He has above-average power that might peak at 20 home run seasons and has the potential to be a Gold Glover behind the plate, but that profile doesn’t tend to excite collectors and investors.

Nolan Jones, Cleveland Guardians RF (#129)

Jones debuted with the Guardians in 2022, hitting a mediocre .244 with a .681 OPS. He hit the ball hard but struck out a ton, and the Guardians traded him to the Colorado Rockies this offseason. Some aspects of his game are enticing (batted ball qualities and plate discipline), but it hasn’t led to the numbers I want to see from a player I’m considering investing in. He’s a buy low and hold option, but not a player I’d prioritize.  

Kyle Stowers, Baltimore Orioles OF (#156)

Stowers played really well in the minor leagues in 2021 and 2022, slashing a combined .272/.372/.520 with 46 home runs in 219 games. He played pretty well once he got called up by the Orioles too, highlighting his ability to barrel balls up but also his tendency to striking out. I think Stowers is a quality mid-level prospect but also think he’s bound to be overshadowed by teammates Adley Rutschman and Gunnar Henderson.

Jeter Downs, Boston Red Sox IF (#165)

Downs was the top prospect going to the Red Sox in the Mookie Betts trade, one that Boston would probably like a do-over on. He cracked Top-100 lists, getting as high as No. 40 with a future value grade of 55 by FanGraphs in 2020. Now, he’s a 35 and was designated for assignment by the Red Sox at the end of the year. Downs got claimed by the Nationals and might benefit from a fresh start, but it’s unlikely he’ll ever reach the ceiling investors envisioned a few years ago.

Nick Pratto, Kansas City Royals 1B/OF (#182)

Pratto got called up to the big leagues in 2022, but it didn’t go well. His two months with the Royals exposed his contact issues and difficulty against off-speed and breaking pitches. If he can put it together, he has a nice hit and power skillset with the ability to play above average defense. If not, I’m not sure he has a ton of investment value.  

Brayan Bello, Boston Red Sox P (#185)

Bello is an interesting pitcher that has impressive tools but hasn’t figured how to put it all together yet. His sinker sits at 96.3 MPH, one of the hardest in the league, but it gets absolutely clobbered by opposing hitters (.402 BAA). His slider is nasty, but it generates whiffs at one of the lowest rates in the league. As both a fantasy player and card investor, I stand in two very different places on Bello: I might be tempted by Bello’s upside in the late rounds of a fantasy draft, but I’d steer clear of him as a card investment.

JJ Bleday, Miami Marlins OF (#205)

Bleday was Baseball America’s No. 6 prospect heading into the 2019 Draft, thanks to a phenomenal junior season at Vanderbilt. The Marlins selected him with the fourth overall pick and they immediately promoted him to their High-A team. I think the cancelled 2020 season hurt Bleday, who returned in 2021 and struggled to consistently hit for average and power. In 65 games with the big league team in 2022, he never got going and the Marlins traded him to the Oakland A’s last week. As a Marlins fan, I really wanted Bleday to be good. As of now, I’m glad I didn’t go all in on investing in him.

Darick Hall, Philadelphia Phillies 1B/DH (#209)

Hall’s hit well at every stop in the minors, posting 119 MPH exit velocities and hitting 20 or more home runs in four of his last five seasons in the minors. The only thing keeping Hall in this tier is his 70-grade power, but I still don’t think it’s enough to warrant a serious investment.

Liover Peguero, Pittsburgh Pirates SS (#238)

Peguero spent the first two seasons of his professional career with the Arizona Diamondbacks before being traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Starling Marte. His 2019 season with the D-Backs (.326/.382/.485) was promising, and he improved in his first season in Pittsburgh with career highs in home runs (14) and stolen bases (28). 2022 was a serious step back for Peguero, however, and there’s better prospects to chase in the Pirates organization.

Mark Appel, Philadelphia Phillies P (#259)

It’s been a long time coming for Mark Appel. He was the first overall draft pick in 2013, pitched in the minor leagues and battled injuries for five seasons, then decided to retire from baseball in 2018. In 2021, Appel decided to come back. He finally made his debut on June 26, 2022, more than nine years and three thousand days since he became the No. 1 overall pick. It’s unlikely a 2023 Topps Mark Appel rookie card will ever be anything more than a novelty, something to show your friends and say “hey, this guy became the oldest first overall pick to debut in MLB.” While I don’t think his cards have much value to investors, I do think his story serves as a good reminder that the players we collect and invest in are humans. Their careers ebb and flow like ours do, and we surely wouldn’t want people calling us a bust when we make a mistake or hit a rough patch. (Here’s Appel on that topic in his own words.)

Ezequiel Duran, Texas Rangers 2B/3B (#286)

After coming into the season without playing a game above Single-A, Duran worked his way up to the big leagues in 2022. He hit so in well Double- and Triple-A that he forced his way into the Texas Rangers’ starting lineup when they needed an infielder to replace an injured regular. He didn’t play great, but scouts are confident in his above average hit tool and plus power. He’s likely an everyday third baseman moving forward.

Christopher Morel, Chicago Cubs IF/OF (#308)

Morel played 113 games with the Cubs in 2022, giving them above average offense while playing significant time at second base and centerfield. He crushed the ball when he made contact, but it was infrequent and led to a ton of strikeouts. He isn’t a budding superstar, but he provides the best power/speed upside in this tier.

Cade Cavalli, Washington Nationals P (#320)

There isn’t a huge sample size to assess Cavalli’s professional career, just 220.1 minor league innings and one start with the Nationals last year. His stuff is electric and he racks up strikeouts with ease, but the righthander’s control is shaky. He’s also dealt with significant injuries which, paired with his trouble to consistently throw strikes, cause scouts to wonder if he’s destined for the bullpen. There’s too much risk here for me.

Tier 4: Rookies with little to no investment value in 2023 Topps Series 1

Michael Grove, Los Angeles Dodgers P (#15)

Zack Thompson, St. Louis Cardinals P (#34)

Josh Smith, Texas Rangers 3B/OF (#37)

Brian Serven, Colorado Rockies C (#41)

Jermaine Palacios, Minnesota Twins 2B/SS (#56)

Iván Herrera, St. Louis Cardinals C (#58)

Travis Swaggerty, Pittsburgh Pirates OF (#67)

Caleb Kilian, Chicago Cubs P (#69)

Josh Winckowski, Boston Red Sox P (#76)

Ethan Small, Milwaukee Brewers P (#87)

Korey Lee, Houston Astros C (#90)

Jonah Bride, Oakland Athletics 2B/SS (#95)

Brandon Hughes, Chicago Cubs P (#97)

Buddy Kennedy, Arizona Diamondbacks 2B (#135)

Marcus Wilson, Seattle Mariners OF (#138)

Lenyn Sosa, Chicago White Sox 2B/SS (#140)

Jonathan Aranda, Tampa Bay Rays IF (#154)

Michael Massey, Kansas City Royals 2B (#167)

Kody Clemens, Detroit Tigers 1B/3B (#176)

Davis Martin, Chicago White Sox P (#188)

Graham Ashcraft, Cincinnati Reds P (#214)

Evan Lee, Washington Nationals P (#243)

Max Castillo, Kansas City Royals P (#251)

Steele Walker, San Francisco Giants OF (#264)

David MacKinnon, Oakland Athletics 1B/3B (#276)

David Villar, San Francisco Giants 1B/3B (#277)

Cal Mitchell, Pittsburgh Pirates RF (#313)

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