Best Prospects In 2021 Bowman Chrome

Rookie cards are popular among collectors. But for prospects, the 1st Bowman Chrome cards are the cream of the crop. So first, we’ll explain what makes this release unique and which players may be worth an investment. By the time we are done, you will have a good feel for the best prospects in 2021 Bowman Chrome.

Why Are 1st Bowman Chromes the Most Coveted Bowman Cards?

Baseball fans keep up with the players their team recently drafted or signed as amateur free agents. Naturally, the hope that your player turns out to be a superstar drives up the demand for the card, thus increasing its value.

We wish we could say we always knew that Mike Trout would be one of the greatest baseball players of all time. Collectors who sought out Trout’s 1st Bowman Chrome in 2009 really can. And they have been rewarded handsomely for their foresight.

A crystal ball would have come in handy for Bowman collectors in 2009 (get Mike Trout Bowman autos on eBay)

Scouting: Art or Science?

How do we identify the best prospects in 2021 Bowman Chrome? Scouting was once thought to be more art than a science, but new ways of evaluating amateur players have given us better predictive tools. For big-league players, a tracking system called Statcast is used in all 30 major league ballparks. The system collects and analyzes in-game data in real-time, which is publicly available on Baseball Savant.

For amateur and minor league players, however, this data is not publicly available. As a result, many college and minor league ballparks are equipped with TrackMan, a high-tech camera and radar system that captures the data teams use internally. It’s also become more common to hear of players going to data-driven performance training centers such as Driveline Baseball.

Why should any of this matter to card collectors? Generally, more data means more accuracy in scouts’ reports. There are, of course, players who may outperform initial scouting grades or those who never turn into the player we expected. Nonetheless, having more data should give you more confidence when choosing players for investment.

Evaluating The Best Prospects In 2021 Bowman Chrome

Prospect rankings are based on scouting grades and narrative reports for each player. You’ve probably heard the term “five-tool player” used to describe top prospects. This label is reserved for the cream of the crop. It is used exclusively for hitters who excel at the five grades on the 20-80 scouting scale. The scale is structured to reflect the bell curve, a normal distribution where, in our care, 50 is average. Thus, most players will fall between grades 40-60, with fewer players receiving grades further from the mean.

Here’s how the prospect experts at Baseball America break down the 20-80 scale:

20: As bad as it gets for a big leaguer. Think Billy Hamilton’s power.
30: Poor, but not unplayable, such as Edwin Encarnacion’s speed.
40: Below-average, such as Eloy Jimenez’s defense or Trevor Bauer’s control.
45: Fringe-average. Reynaldo

Baseball America grade players on a scale of 20-80 (picture taken from Twitter)

Lopez’s control and Kurt Suzuki’s arm qualify.
50: Major league average. Juan Soto’s speed.
55: Above-average. Nick Castellanos’ power.
60: Plus. Alex Bregman’s speed or Stephen Strasburg’s control.
70: Plus-Plus. Among the best tools in the game, such as Corey Seager’s arm, Patrick Corbin’s slider, or Francisco Lindor’s defense.
80: Top of the scale. Some scouts consider only one player’s tool in all of the major leagues to be 80. Think of Aaron Judge’s power, Byron Buxton’s speed, or Aroldis Chapman’s fastball.

Hitters and pitchers are obviously going to be graded differently. Hitters are evaluated on five main tools: hit, power, run, defense, arm. Meanwhile, pitchers are given a grade for each of their pitches and overall command. Finally, players are given an overall grade.

The 10 Best Prospects In 2021 Bowman Chrome

I’ll be looking at 10 of the best prospects of the release, using grades and reports from MLB Pipeline and FanGraphs. I’ll stick with these two because they are available for free on their respective websites. For MLB Pipeline, you’ll see scouting grades for each tool and one future overall grade. FanGraphs breaks it up slightly differently, giving you current and future grades (for example, 25/55 where 25 is present and 55 is future) for hitting, game power, raw power, speed, and fielding. You’ll also see their future value score, akin to MLB Pipeline’s overall grade.

I’ll also show players’ minor league statistics. Most of these players are very young. So there isn’t a plethora of minor league statistics to mine. Therefore,  I’ll place more emphasis on scouting information. So without further ado, here are the best prospects in 2021 Bowman Chrome.

  1. Carlos Colmenarez, SS in Tampa Bay Rays organization

Age: 17 | Bats: L | Throws: R | ETA: 2025

MLB Pipeline Grades: Hit: 55 | Power: 55 | Run: 55 | Arm: 55 | Field: 50 | Overall: 55

FanGraphs Grades: Hit: 25/55 | Game Power: 25/55 | Raw Power: 45/55 | Speed: 55/55 | Field: 45/55 | Future Value: 45+

Season (Age) Name Level G H HR SB BB% K% BA OBP SLG
2021 (17) Carlos Colmenarez DSL 26 24 0 7 7.0% 26.3% .247 .319 .289

Colmenarez, a shortstop from Venezuela, was one of the top prospects from the 2020 international class. He played 26 games in the Dominican Summer League in the 2021 season, getting a late start because of surgery on his hamate bone.

Colmenarez showed little power in those games; his only extra-base hits came on two doubles and one triple. However, despite the lack of power in those games, scouts are confident he’ll develop it. They also like his defense, with one explicitly noting his potential to be an above-average defender. While it is hard to predict the future, he currently looks like the best prospect in 2021 Bowman Chrome.

While he’s a long way away, the Venezuelan shortstop has the potential to grow into an above-average hitter with above-average power and an above-average defensive player — a well-rounded prospect with room to grow.

Carlos Colmenarez is our pick for best investment (look for his Bowman cards on eBay)
  1. Cristian Hernandez, SS in Chicago Cubs organization

Age: 17 | Bats: R | Throws: R | ETA: 2025

MLB Pipeline: Hit: 55 | Power: 55 | Run: 60 | Arm: 55 | Field: 55 | Overall: 50

FanGraphs: Hit: 25/50 | Game Power: 20/40 | Raw Power: 45/55 | Speed: 55/55 | Field: 40/50 | Future Value: 45+

Season (Age) Name Level G H HR SB BB% K% BA OBP SLG
2021 (17) Cristian Hernandez DSL 47 45 5 21 15.7% 20.4% .285 .398 .424

The Cubs believe Hernandez has more potential than any international player they signed recently. The shortstop has earned comparisons to Alex Rodriguez and Manny Machado from Baseball America.

Hernandez is projected to hit for average and power, with MLB Pipeline noting his ceiling could allow him to hit .300 with 30 home runs. In addition, he’s quick, smooth, and athletic, giving scouts the sense that he can play any position if needed.

Hernandez has a great skill and athleticism foundation and good frame-based power projection. He’s an excellent prospect with a shot to be an above-average everyday player.

  1. Pedro Pineda, OF in Oakland A’s organization

Age: 18 | Bats: R | Throws: R | ETA: 2025

MLB Pipeline: Hit: 50 | Power: 40 | Run: 50 | Arm: 55 | Field: 50 | Overall: 50

FanGraphs: Hit: 20/45 | Game Power: 25/60 | Raw Power: 50/70 | Speed: 60/50 | Field: 40/50 | Future Value: 45+

Season (Age) Name Level G H HR SB BB% K% BA OBP SLG
2021 (17) Pedro Pineda DSL&R 33 23 1 6 15.4% 35.0% .237 .368 .361

MLB Pipeline ranked him as the 13th best international prospect. Pineda was 17 years old and not on anyone’s list of top 10 A’s prospects coming into the 2021 season, but after 23 games in rookie ball praise from scouts, FanGraphs pushed Pineda up to the A’s #2 prospect. Scouts who saw him called him electric and explosive, saying he has “as much power-hitting potential as anyone in the system.”

A’s fans will have to wait a long time to see a return on investment here, but the end result could be an exciting, toolsy everyday big-league outfielder.

Pedro Pineda has a fantastic arm, and other potentially high caliber tools (look for his autos on eBay)
  1. Pedro Leon, SS/OF in Houston Astros organization

Age: 23 | Bats: R | Throws: R | ETA: 2022

MLB Pipeline: Hit: 45 | Power: 55 | Run: 65 | Arm: 80 | Field: 50 | Overall: 50

FanGraphs: Hit: 30/45 | Game Power: 40/55 | Raw Power: 60/60 | Speed: 60/60 | Field: 55/55 | Future Value: 45

Season (Age) Name Level G H HR SB BB% K% BA OBP SLG
2017-2018 (19) Pedro Leon CNS 32 39 6 1 3.1% 15.5% .333 .365 .556
2018-2019 (20) Pedro Leon CNS 33 49 15 7 10.5% 17.1% .383 .467 .789
2021 (23) Pedro Leon AA&AAA 72 56 9 18 13.0% 30.6% .220 .339 .369

 Unlike the top three players on the list, Leon played professionally before, in the Cuban National Series. Although nearly a decade younger than the average player, Leon had no trouble putting up terrific numbers. He displayed good power, speed and had experience playing shortstop and centerfield.

Leon strikes out a lot, but MLB Pipeline notes that “if he has even an average bat, he should become a star.” The 23-year-old is said to have looked comfortable against big-league pitching in spring training and has played as high as Triple-A, so he’s likely to get time with the Astros in 2022, considering Houston is likely losing their shortstop through free agency.

A 5-foot-9 stick of dynamite, Leon has an extensive power/speed/arm tool trinity. The Astros plan on experimenting with him at shortstop and in center field. He’s a very interesting and talented prospect with a chance to be an impact player.

  1. Jeferson Quero, C in Milwaukee Brewers organization

Age: 19 | Bats: R | Throws: R | ETA: 2024

MLB Pipeline: Hit: 50 | Power: 50 | Run: 40 | Arm: 60 | Field: 55 | Overall: 50

FanGraphs: Hit: 25/50 | Game Power: 20/55 | Raw Power: 50/60 | Speed: 30/20 | Field: 40/60 | Future Value: 45

Season (Age) Name Level G H HR SB BB% K% BA OBP SLG
2021 (18) Jeferson Quero R 23 21 2 4 14.5% 12.0% .309 .434 .500

The Brewers signed the Venezuelan catcher when he was just 16 years old. MLB Pipeline notes that Quero “has one of the highest ceilings of any player in the [Brewers] system.” He’s a well-rounded hitter that covers all parts of the plate, getting to high fastballs and making hard contact to all parts of the field.

Scouts note Quero “hit with authority while other young prospects struggled to re-adjust to big velocity coming off a period of shutdown.” He’s also impressed behind the plate, proving to have a “plus-arm and above-average athleticism for a catcher.”

While some young catchers can be reserved, Quero has developed a reputation for being unafraid. Defensively, he is an athletic backstop who already receives high marks for his above-average arm, receiving, blocking technique and feel for handling pitchers. His plus arm headlines an impressive catch-and-throw skillset that should allow him to combat the running game.

Jeferson Quero has first-rate defensive catching skills (get his Bowman autos on eBay)
  1. Alexander Vizcaino, RHP in the Chicago Cubs organization

Age: 24 | Bats: R | Throws: R | ETA: 2022

MLB Pipeline: Fastball: 65 | Changeup: 65 | Slider: 45 | Control: 50 | Overall: 45

FanGraphs: Fastball: 60/60 | Changeup: 60/70 | Slider: 45/50 | Command: 30/35 | Future Value: 45

Season (Age) Name Level G W L IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 ERA WHIP
2016 (19) Alexander Vizcaino DSL 11 0 5 35.0 6.9 3.3 1.0 4.89 1.51
2017 (20) Alexander Vizcaino R 12 3 5 51.1 8.6 4.0 1.6 5.79 1.79
2018 (21) Alexander Vizcaino R&A 12 3 4 58.0 8.8 3.6 1.4 5.12 1.38
2019 (22) Alexander Vizcaino A+ 21 6 6 115.0 10.0 3.0 0.6 4.38 1.31
2021 (24) Alexander Vizcaino A+ 12 0 2 19.2 12.2 8.9 0.1 5.95 1.68

Vizcaino is the oldest player on this list, having been signed by the Yankees in 2015. He wasn’t a top prospect and spent most of his first three seasons in rookie ball. However, the 6-foot-2-inch right-hander made tremendous improvements in High-A during 2019, boosting his low-90s fastball up a few ticks consistently and occasionally touching triple digits.

The changeup, though, is his best pitch. According to FanGraphs, it “bottoms out as if a trap door has opened beneath it just as it approaches the plate.” The Yankees traded Vizcaino to the Chicago Cubs at the 2021 mid-season deadline for Anthony Rizzo. He isn’t projected to be an ace, but Vizcaino looks closer to the big leagues than any player on this list.

Vizcaino will need to upgrade a low-80s slider that lacks consistency and devolves into a slurve too often. He showed better control during his 2019 breakout and still needs to refine his command. He could be a mid-rotation starter if he makes the necessary improvements or a late-inning reliever if he lands in the bullpen.

  1. Luis Toribio, 3B/1B in San Francisco Giants organization

Age: 21 | Bats: L | Throws: R | ETA: 2023

MLB Pipeline: Hit: 50 | Power: 50 | Run: 40 | Arm: 60 | Field: 45 | Overall: 45

FanGraphs: Hit: 35/55 | Game Power: 30/55 | Raw Power: 55/60 | Speed: 40/30 | Field: 40/45 | Future Value: 45

Season (Age) Name Level G H HR SB BB% K% BA OBP SLG
2018 (17) Luis Toribio DSL 64 58 10 4 18.6% 22.6% .270 .423 .479
2019 (18) Luis Toribio R&A- 54 58 3 4 19.0% 23.9% .296 .433 .454
2021 (20) Luis Toribio A 94 78 7 2 15.4% 27.7% .229 .351 .356

During his first professional season, Toribio impressed the San Francisco Giants with power and patience, hitting 10 home runs and walking at a high rate. MLB Pipeline called Toribio “one of the best pure hitters among Giants farmhands” because of his hard contact and impressive hand-eye coordination.

Unfortunately, the pandemic canceled the minor league season and forced most players to work out independently. He’s playing third base right now, but scouts admit there’s a chance he outgrows the hot corner and will move over to first base.

Toribio’s approach is geared for all-fields contact, but he’s so strong that he often hits for power by mistake. More than any of the other young hitters on this list, and more than most college underclass hitters the same age, Toribio is a fully formed physical entity, a brawny, heavy-footed thumper who looks like Aramis Ramirez did in his prime.

Luis Toribio generates the kind of hard hits that baseball scouts love (look for his Bowman Chromes on eBay)
  1. Misael Urbina, OF in Minnesota Twins organization

Age: 19 | Bats: R | Throws: R | ETA: 2023

MLB Pipeline: Hit: 55 | Power: 45 | Run: 60 | Arm: 50 | Field: 55 | Overall: 45

FanGraphs: Hit: 25/55 | Game Power: 25/50 | Raw Power: 40/50 | Speed: 55/50 | Field: 40/50 | Future Value: 45

Season (Age) Name Level G H HR SB BB% K% BA OBP SLG
2019 (17) Misael Urbina DSL 50 51 2 19 10.6% 6.5% .279 .382 .443
2021 (19) Misael Urbina A 101 70 5 16 12.3% 18.7% .191 .299 .286

Urbina was one of the better international prospects when the Minnesota Twins signed the Venezuelan 16-year-old in 2018. In addition to his offensive abilities, Urbina impressed scouts with how he carried himself in the Dominican Summer League. The young outfielder was comfortable in the batter’s box, knew the strike zone well, and made good contact.

But, what stood out, even more was that he rarely chased pitches out of the zone or swung and missed. As a result, there’s optimism that Urbina gets stronger and continues to improve his above-average baserunning and defensive skills.

He’s an explosive rotator, and this guy’s power doesn’t just come from size and strength, but rather an upper body that unwinds kind of like Yuli Gurriel’s does. Urbina’s timing, hand-eye coordination, and all-fields feel for contact at a young age are all advanced for his age.”

  1. Alex Ramirez, OF in New York Mets organization

Age: 18 | Bats: R | Throws: R | ETA: 2024

MLB Pipeline: Hit: 50 | Power: 50 | Run: 55 | Arm: 50 | Field: 50 | Overall: 45

FanGraphs: Hit: 20/50 | Game Power: 20/55 | Raw Power: 40/55 | Speed: 55/55 | Field: 40/50 | Future Value: 40+

Season (Age) Name Level G H HR SB BB% K% BA OBP SLG
2021 (18) Alex Ramirez A 76 78 5 16 6.9% 31.1% .258 .326 .384

The New York Mets awarded Ramirez the biggest signing bonus of their international free agents in 2019 because of his five-tool potential. FanGraphs notes, “if there’s a prospect in this system with a chance to absolutely explode over the next year, it’s probably Ramirez.” Ideally, the Mets see Ramirez as a centerfielder and are optimistic that the raw talent will pan out. He is one of the least refined amongst the best prospects in 2021 Bowman Chrome. But his upside is too significant to ignore.

There is a lot to dream on here and also a wide range of possibilities when it comes to Ramirez’s long-term outcome. He could be a star if he builds out all five tools.

  1. Cristian Santana, SS/3B in Detroit Tigers organization

Age: 17 | Bats: R | Throws: R | ETA: 2025

MLB Pipeline: Hit: 55 | Power: 50 | Run: 50 | Arm: 50 | Field: 50 | Overall: 45

FanGraphs: Hit: 25/60 | Game Power: 25/50 | Raw Power: 40/50 | Speed: 50/45 | Field: 40/45 | Future Value: 45

Season (Age) Name Level G H HR SB BB% K% BA OBP SLG
2021 (17) Cristian Santana DSL 54 46 9 12 13.9% 21.3% .269 .421 .520

 Signed by the Detroit Tigers this year, Santana dazzled in his first 54 professional games. He hit nine home runs, stole 12 bases, and posted a .941 OPS in the Dominican Summer League as a 17-year-old. Scouts hope that additional development will lead to Santana becoming an impact bat’s approach at the plate, raw power, and bat speed. He’s also a good defender and has good speed on the basepaths.

Among the more polished hitters in the most recent international class, Santana’s swing is compact but dynamic throughout the hitting zone; he has a natural feel for all-fields contact and his swing’s gentle loft creates power without compromising much contact.

Cristian Santana has power and bat speed, but can he put it all together? (get his Bowman 1sts on eBay)

Which Players May Not Be Worth The Risk

As much as I wish I had a crystal ball to help me predict which players will reach the big leagues and become stars, I don’t. Investing comes with risk, especially when it’s a young or unproven prospect. We can look at past performance and scouting reports from experts, but those are outsiders’ expectations.

Alexander Vizcaino, the Cubs’ righthanded pitching prospect, is one player that carries some risk for me. The 24-year-old seemed to put everything together in 2019, seeing improvement on his fastball and changeup over 115 innings. However, reports from both MLB Pipeline and FanGraphs agree that Vizcaino has to improve his slider and work on command to be considered for the starting rotation.

Regardless of whether Vizcaino figures it out and becomes a back-end starter or assumes a bullpen role, middling starters or relief pitchers are not the most coveted collector items. Vizcaino may wind up being a valuable pitcher, but I don’t see that translating into a worthwhile card investment.

Two batters I have my doubts about are Alex Ramirez (OF, Mets) and Cristian Santana (SS/3B, Tigers). My reasoning here is that Ramirez and Santana are inexperienced and have yet to develop physically fully. Both players have a considerable upside, but their age and lack of experience are barriers to a confident assessment. Therefore, we do not believe they are among the best prospects in 2021 Bowman Chrome.

Alexander Ramirez is very talented, but we have our doubts (look for his cards on eBay)

Bottomline On The Best Prospects In 2021 Bowman Chrome

The latest Bowman Chrome release features exciting prospects with huge upsides. The list below shows all Bowman Chrome Prospects with a “1st Bowman” card in the newest release. The Cardlines top 10 picks from this article are in bold. However, others may also earn a place among the best prospects in 2021 Bowman Chrome.

  • BCP-151 Victor Acosta – San Diego Padres
  • BCP-153 Kevin Made – Chicago Cubs
  • BCP-154 Helcris Olivarez – Colorado Rockies
  • BCP-161 Julio Carreras – Colorado Rockies
  • BCP-167 Miguel Bleis – Boston Red Sox
  • BCP-171 Cristian Hernandez – Chicago Cubs
  • BCP-179 Alexander Mojica – Pittsburgh Pirates
  • BCP-180 Gabriel Rodriguez – Cleveland Indians
  • BCP-181 Jeferson Quero – Milwaukee Brewers
  • BCP-184 Malvin Valdez – Cincinnati Reds
  • BCP-186 Cristian Santana – Detroit Tigers
  • BCP-189 Pedro Leon – Houston Astros
  • BCP-191 Eduardo Garcia – Milwaukee Brewers
  • BCP-196 Luis Rodriguez – Los Angeles Dodgers
  • BCP-197 Wilman Diaz – Los Angeles Dodgers
  • BCP-199 Yiddi Cappe – Miami Marlins
  • BCP-202 Luis Medina – Milwaukee Brewers
  • BCP-206 Misael Urbina – Minnesota Twins
  • BCP-207 Emmanuel Rodriguez – Minnesota Twins
  • BCP-208 Alexander Ramirez – New York Mets
  • BCP-212 Alexander Vizcaino – New York Yankees
  • BCP-215 Milkar Perez – Seattle Mariners
  • BCP-216 Pedro Pineda – Oakland Athletics
  • BCP-222 Shalin Polanco – Pittsburgh Pirates
  • BCP-223 Po-Yu Chen – Pittsburgh Pirates
  • BCP-226 Malcom Nunez – St. Louis Cardinals
  • BCP-228 Luis Toribio – San Francisco Giants
  • BCP-232 Gilberto Celestino – Minnesota Twins
  • BCP-238 Carlos Colmenarez – Tampa Bay Rays
  • BCP-239 Jhonny Piron – Tampa Bay Rays
  • BCP-244 Manuel Beltre – Toronto Blue Jays
  • BCP-249 Starlin Aguilar – Seattle Mariners

 

Nicole Cahill

Nicole Cahill

Nicole Cahill is a freelance writer with sports bylines at Baseball Prospectus, Fish Stripes, and Pitcher List. She also writes about mental health and recently founded a nonprofit. When she’s not fighting stigma or exploring Baseball Savant visuals, you can find Nicole enjoying a cup of coffee and a good book. View her portfolio at NicoleCahill.com or find her on Twitter at @NicoleCahill_