There are 57 rookies in the 2022 Topps Series 2 release, consisting of 24 hitters and 33 pitchers. The second set of the flagship release has a few exciting players. However, the checklist is disappointing because of who was omitted. So, let’s separate the wheat from the chaff in our guide to 2022 Topps Series 2 rookies.
Looking for 2022 Topps Update rookies? Check them out here. Meanwhile, you can find 2023 Topps rookies here.
There are a few rookies Topps did not include that would have bolstered the set and overjoyed investors. Those missing names include Bobby Witt Jr., Julio Rodríguez, Seiya Suzuki, and Spencer Torkelson. Here’s to hoping they’ll be in the Update release.
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At 6-foot-7, Cruz is explosive, athletic, and the type of prospect every team would love to call their own. This combination also makes him an enticing prospect to invest in as a card collector. The shortstop debuted with the Pirates at the tail end of the 2021 season, but Cruz took only four plate appearances to claim the franchise’s hardest-hit ball in the Statcast era. Here’s a video of that 118.2 mph single.
Cruz is one of only four prospects to receive a potential 80-grade raw power from FanGraphs and the only one to currently fulfill that 80. Scouts also rate his speed and arm as plus tools, suggesting he may play other defensive positions if his size forces him away from the shortstop position.
The power/speed combo had Cruz flirting with a 20/20 season in just 69 minor league games in 2021. Although he tends to be aggressive at the plate, which contributes to a high strikeout rate, Cruz’s offensive profile suggests the ability to produce “30-homer seasons perennially in his peak,” per Baseball America, as well as the chance to be a legitimate threat on the base paths. This is everything you want to see from players worth an investment.
While refinement is needed and the development of other players during Pittsburgh’s rebuild may ultimately dictate his defensive home, Cruz has the highest impact potential of any player in the Pirates system and one of baseball’s more dynamic skill sets.
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Lowe, who made his debut in 2021 and played 19 big league games this season, is an outfielder with plus power and plus-plus speed. Lowe took a big step forward offensively in 2021, posting a career-high batting average and walk rate without sacrificing power. He was also perfect on the base paths, stealing 26 bases in 26 tries.
Lowe doesn’t have the eye-catching light-tower power that shortstop Oneil Cruz does, but he does have multiple plus-or-better tools that also make him a power/speed threat. Through 2021, Lowe struck out about a quarter of the time but posted double-digit walk rates.
Despite struggling in spring training, the outfielder made the Rays’ Opening Day roster. Unfortunately, the three-week stretch was a dismal one. After going 12-for-64 with 27 strikeouts, Lowe was sent down to Triple-A. Since then, his strikeout rate has been pushing towards 40%, which is a concern. I still think there’s an upside here, but I’m more comfortable with Cruz now, especially since Lowe is in the shadows of Wander Franco and other top Tampa Bay prospects.
He still trades some batting average for power, but he has managed to find a balance and now projects as a fringe-average hitter with plus power. Every other aspect of his game is plus or better. He plays a plus center field with long gliding strides. He also has a plus arm and has turned into a threat on the base paths.
The awe-inspiring shortstop made his rookie card debut in the 2022 Topps Series 1 set, but Franco will also have a rookie card featured in the upcoming 2022 Topps Series 2 set. Unfortunately, the latter card (#367) will probably be less desirable than the card in Series 1 (#215). He is, however, one of the most popular players in the hobby right now. For that reason, I include him in the top tier for this release. Below are my comments from my 2022 Topps Series 1 writeup, along with his big-league statistics:
The Rays did something unheard of for any team, let alone the penny-pinchers in Tampa Bay: they offered an 11-year/$182 million extension to a player with only 70 big league games under his belt.
Why? Wander Franco, the five-tool prospect the baseball world had been waiting for, is worth it. Franco has patience, power, and speed and does it all while playing above-average defense.
Franco is an exceptionally advanced hitter for his age. The switch-hitter’s compact, level stroke and above-average bat speed from both sides of the plate grant him a controlled aggression most young hitters can’t match. His bat control allows him to make consistent hard contact while rarely striking out. He also has an innate ability to adjust his swing, leaving few holes for pitchers to attack. Franco stings the ball and has plus power potential, but his level swing leads to more line drives and ground balls than fly balls. He has shown in team competitions that he can put on a show in a home run derby.
Tier 2 Of The Guide To 2022 Topps Series 2 Rookies
Juan Yepez, St. Louis Cardinals 1B/OF (#506)
Yepez got the call he’d been waiting for at the beginning of May, collecting two hits in his debut on nearly identical flares the other way that he stretched into doubles. He was hot for the first few weeks of the season, forcing the Cardinals to find space for him in their lineup. He’s cooled off lately but has been hitting the ball hard and regularly starting in the cleanup spot. Yepez’s skill set lends itself to the hobby. In the minor leagues, he hit for power while exhibiting good plate discipline. His barrel rate in the major leagues is right around league average, but the young hitter is performing well against breaking pitches, something he struggled with in the minors.
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Romy Gonzalez, IF/OF in the Chicago White Sox organization (#595)
Gonzalez came into the 2021 minor league season with 14 home runs in 155 professional games. Still, his 24 home runs in 93 games between Double- and Triple-A in 2021 earned him the best power hitter title in the White Sox organization by Baseball America. They also recognize his above-average bat speed, zone awareness, and low chase rates as predictors of success at the next level. Gonzalez has played most of his games at shortstop since the start of the 2021 season. Of course, that position is occupied by Tim Anderson, but Gonzalez has experience at second, third, and the corner outfield spots. The defensive versatility makes him at least a regular starter as a super-utility man, but he could slide into everyday shortstop if the position opens up.
Tier 3 Of The Guide To 2022 Topps Series 2 Rookies
Otto Lopez, 2B in Toronto Blue Jays organization (#422)
Lopez mostly hits the ball on the ground, leading to below-average power. He might have added value if he could learn to lift the ball more. But for now, he seems destined for a super-utility role.
Ryan Vilade, OF in Colorado Rockies organization (#586)
Tier 4 Of The Guide To 2022 Topps Series 2 Rookies
Nick Fortes, C in Miami Marlins organization (#333)
Seth Beer, 1B/DH in Arizona Diamondbacks organization (#345)
Yonny Hernandez, SS in Texas Rangers organization (#363)
Jake McCarthy, OF in Arizona Diamondbacks organization (#370)
Greg Deichmann, OF in the Chicago Cubs organization (#395)
Jack López, 2B/SS in the Boston Red Sox organization (#418)
Brian Miller, OF in Miami Marlins organization (#425)
Henry Ramos, OF in Arizona Diamondbacks organization (#455)
Colton Welker, 1B/3B in Colorado Rockies organization (#480)
Alfonso Rivas, 1B/OF in the Chicago Cubs organization (#526)
Mark Kolozsvary, C in Cincinnati Reds organization (#536)
TJ Friedl, OF in Cincinnati Reds organization (#546)
Jose Siri, OF in Houston Astros organization (#599)
Payton Henry, C in Miami Marlins organization (#611)
Jacob Robson, 2B in Detroit Tigers organization (#623)
Kevin Smith, SS in Oakland Athletics organization (#636)
Yohel Pozo, C in Texas Rangers organization (#649)
Bottomline Of The Guide To 2022 Topps Series 2 Rookies
The rookie list for Series 2 is pretty disappointing. The big names they could have included, such as Julio Rodriguez and Spencer Torkelson, are absent. However, the two biggest names here: Oneil Cruz and Josh Lowe, may be sleeping giants. Note that there is also usually a lower print run for Series 2, which may increase the desirability of the rookies if they pan out. So, this product could be worth picking up.