CardLines is back with another player breakdown, this time we give you our guide to 2022 Bowman Baseball prospects! The players I’m covering today are the 86 prospects with the “Bowman 1st” designation in this 2022 Bowman Baseball release. If you read my Guide to the 2022 Topps Rookie Hitters and Pitchers, this article will be broken down into a similar tiered system.
This 2022 Bowman prospect breakdown will place the 86 players with 1st Bowman status into the following tiers:
I’ve focused most of my analysis on the top two tiers, listing player overviews, prospect grades, statistics, brief comments, and narrative reports for the top players in this 2022 Bowman 1st Edition.
For readers looking to invest in tomorrow’s stars, I’d focus your energy and resources on the top two tiers. The middle two tiers comprise players with greater risk but whose cards are worth hanging on to because they hold at least one promising tool. In the fifth tier, I’ve listed players who currently appear to have the most negligible value in the hobby. Lastly, many prospects have very little publicly available scouting information. For this reason, I listed them in tier six.
Along with the base cards, there is another small 5-card insert set. The Chrome Prospector’s Special Die-Cut checklist comes in about 1:1,513 packs. Each card has a print run of 49 cards. Two of the players in tier one (Watson and Valera), one in tier two (Wood), and two in tier 3 (Montgomery and Arteaga) make up this insert set.
Thirteen players have autographed chrome versions of their base cards. These are found in about 1:260 packs. In addition, one player from tier 1 (Mead), one from tier 2 (Wood), and two from tier 3 (Cabrera and Clase) have autographed cards.
Age: 19 | Bats: L | Throws: R | ETA: 2026
MLB Pipeline Grades: Hit: 55 | Power: 55 | Run: 65 | Arm: 55 | Field: 55 | Overall: 55
FanGraphs Grades: Hit: 20/50 | Game Power: 25/60 | Raw Power: 50/60 | Speed: 55/55 | Field: 40/50 | Future Value: 50
|2021 (18)||Kahlil Watson||Rk||9||13||3||2||4||19.0%||16.7%||.394||.524||.606|
The Miami Marlins gave the prep shortstop the highest signing bonus the franchise ever offered to a high school player. Watson was a top prospect and considered a steal at the 16th overall pick in the 2021 Draft. His skill set, athleticism, and personality are a package that breeds stars, but Watson just turned 19 years old and is far from big-league ready.
He gets to most of his plus raw power and makes consistent hard contact despite his aggressive mentality. He likes to turn the bat loose but controls the strike zone well and will take walks when pitchers decline to challenge him. Watson is an explosive athlete who can use his well-above-average speed to wreak havoc on the bases. He has all the attributes needed to play a solid shortstop, including smooth actions, range to both sides, arm strength, and keen instincts, and he just needs to develop consistency that should come with experience.
Age: 21 | Bats: R | Throws: R | ETA: 2023
MLB Pipeline Grades: Hit: 60 | Power: 55 | Run: 45 | Arm: 45 | Field: 45 | Overall: 55
FanGraphs Grades: Hit: 35/60 | Game Power: 30/50 | Raw Power: 50/55 | Speed: 45/40 | Field: 20/40 | Future Value: 50
|2017-18 (16)||Curtis Mead||Fgn||20||19||2||1||0||7.1%||17.9%||.373||.411||.471|
|2018-19 (17)||Curtis Mead||Fgn||38||30||3||2||1||6.6%||13.2%||.240||.302||.312|
|2019 (18)||Curtis Mead||Rk||44||45||12||4||4||7.4%||13.1%||.285||.351||.462|
|2019-20 (18)||Curtis Mead||Fgn||35||42||6||6||5||7.9%||15.9%||.309||.373||.485|
|2020-21 (19)||Curtis Mead||Fgn||22||25||7||3||2||3.9%||17.1%||.347||.382||.569|
|2021 (20)||Curtis Mead||A&AAA||104||132||38||15||11||7.4%||15.5%||.321||.378||.533|
|2021 (20)||Curtis Mead||AZF||20||26||5||3||1||4.5%||14.6%||.313||.360||.530|
Mead seemed destined for a future as an Australian Rules footballer. However, he chose the baseball diamond instead. Curtis began his professional baseball career at just 16 years old in the Australian Baseball League. Mead quickly out-performed his peers, who were an average of eight years older. The infielder has a simple swing and solid plate discipline but doesn’t come with the star-studded package others in this tier possess. Still, he projects as a solid big leaguer with a high average and above-average power.
The bizarre Mead is perhaps the most interesting prospect on the entire list. His swing remains unorthodox, starting with very high hands and a considerable amount of pre-swing noise, but both Mead and the Rays have worked hard to quiet his lower half. Mead has plenty of strength, but he’s more of a hitter with power than a power hitter, showing a consistent ability to make hard contact to all fields regardless of pitch type or handedness.
Age: 21 | Bats: L | Throws: L | ETA: 2022
MLB Pipeline Grades: Hit: 55 | Power: 55 | Run: 50 | Arm: 50 | Field: 50 | Overall: 55
FanGraphs Grades: Hit: 30/40 | Game Power: 45/60 | Raw Power: 55/60 | Speed: 50/45 | Field: 45/45 | Future Value: 50
|2018 (17)||George Valera||Rk||6||6||1||1||1||13.6%||13.6%||.333||.409||.556|
|2019 (18)||George Valera||A||52||39||7||8||6||14.5%||28.5%||.217||.336||.411|
|2021 (20)||George Valera||A&AA||86||74||5||19||11||18.2%||24.2%||.260||.405||.505|
Valera’s power makes him one of the more exciting prospects in baseball due to his power. Nonetheless, scouts are conflicted when it comes to his complete offensive profile. The questionable contact and sky-high strikeout rate are a problem. In addition, Valera projects to be an average to below-average runner and defender, and there’s also some injury concern for the young outfielder. However, power plays in the hobby, and Valera has a ton of it.
The Guardians have stockpiled talented young hitters and Valera has the best swing of them all, a loose left-handed stroke with quickness, rhythm, and balance. He recognizes pitches and manages the strike zone better than most players of his age and experience, regularly making hard contact.
Age: 20 | Bats: S | Throws: R | ETA: 2024
MLB Pipeline Grades: Hit: 55 | Power: 55 | Run: 60 | Arm: 60 | Field: 55 | Overall: 55
FanGraphs Grades: Hit: 30/40 | Game Power: 35/60 | Raw Power: 60/80 | Speed: 70/70 | Field: 30/45 | Future Value: 50
|2019 (17)||Elly De La Cruz||FRk||43||47||11||1||1||7.5%||24.2%||.285||.351||.382|
|2021 (19)||Elly De La Cruz||Rk&A||61||73||18||9||8||5.3%||30.2%||.296||.336||.539|
De La Cruz wasn’t a highly touted international prospect when the Reds signed the 16-year-old. In fact, he wasn’t much of a prospect at all. Instead, scouts showed up to his game for the other team’s shortstop. Nonetheless, Elly caught the eye of a Reds scout, who banked on his upside for the meager sum of $65,000. During that time, De La Cruz kicked his training into gear and saw a transformation of power, speed, and his baseball IQ was off the charts. Due to his quick learning skills, De La Cruz has one of the highest upsides of any prospect on the checklist, but he remains a massive risk. So, if you pull his card, keep it safe. He could be a star.
Calling De La Cruz a boom or bust prospect understates his range of outcomes. His 4% walk rate in full-season ball is a ruby red flag, near the bottom of the statistical barrel, and hard evidence of an extremely aggressive approach that has been the undoing of several talented players before him. But if De La Cruz “booms,” it could be a boom on par with the one that created the universe. De La Cruz is among the toolsiest minor leaguers in baseball, a gigantic, projectable switch-hitting infielder with plus-plus speed, arm strength, and power potential.
Age: 18 | Bats: R | Throws: R | ETA: 204
MLB Pipeline Grades: Hit: 55 | Power: 50 | Run: 60 | Arm: 45 | Field: 55 | Overall: 50
FanGraphs Grades: Hit: 20/60 | Game Power: 20/45 | Raw Power: 40/50 | Speed: 60/60 | Field: 40/60 | Future Value: 45
|2021 (17)||Jackson Chourio||FRk||45||47||7||5||8||12.2%||14.8%||.296||.386||.447|
Although Chourio is the youngest prospect in this tier, he has tools and athleticism that excite scouts. He isn’t the most physically imposing player, but he showed the ability to drive into the gaps for extra-base hits and hit a few home runs. Jackson’s approach and discipline in the batter’s box also impressed scouts. Chourio has plus speed but fringe-average arm strength, so the Brewers see him more as an outfielder than a shortstop.
The Brewers came away most impressed by Chourio’s knowledge of the strike zone and his ability to lay off bad pitches at such a young age. That’s backed up by his near-even 28/23 K/BB ratio at the lowest level, and they’re hopeful it’s a tool that he can carry as he climbs.
Age: 24 | Bats: L | Throws: R | ETA: 2023
MLB Pipeline Grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 50 | Run: 60 | Arm: 45 | Field: 50 | Overall: 50
FanGraphs Grades: Hit: 40/50 | Game Power: 40/50 | Raw Power: 50/50 | Speed: 55/55 | Field: 40/55 | Future Value: 45+
|2019 (21)||Matt Fraizer||A||43||34||5||0||5||8.2%||22.2%||.221||.287||.266|
|2021 (23)||Matt Fraizer||A&AA||112||133||26||23||15||11.2%||21.7%||.306||.388||.552|
Fraizer, an outfielder, selected in the third round of the 2019 Draft, hasn’t had a linear progression from college to the minor leagues. He was playing his best during his junior season at the University of Arizona. However, a broken bone in Matt’s hand-cut the season short. When Fraizer reported to Low-A in 2019, his power output was terribly low. Nevertheless, the outfielder made swing adjustments and refined his approach during the 2020 shutdown. That spurred tangible improvements in his 2021 production. Although his plus speed will play in center, his arm might push him into left field.
Further obscured from evaluation by the pandemic and the loss of the 2020 season, Fraizer made his full-season debut as a 23-year-old at High-A Greensboro in 2021 and obliterated the level, slashing .314/.401/.578 with 20 homers before a month-long promotion to Altoona to finish the year.
Age: 19 | Bats: L | Throws: R | ETA: 2025
MLB Pipeline Grades: Hit: 45 | Power: 55 | Run: 60 | Arm: 55 | Field: 50 | Overall: 50
FanGraphs Grades (2021): Hit: 20/45 | Game Power: 25/60 | Raw Power: 60/70 | Speed: 30/20 | Field: 30/40 | Future Value: 40
|2021 (18)||James Wood||Rk||26||32||5||3||10||12.9%||31.7%||.372||.465||.535|
Baseball America likes Wood more than MLB Pipeline and FanGraphs, grading him a 55 future value. They believe he possesses a “dynamic combination of power and athleticism.” Therefore, they believe he has the potential to hit 30 or more home runs in the middle of the lineup. In addition, wood has improved his running game by working on maximizing his first step and refining his instincts. The power potential is massive, as is Wood’s ceiling.
He generates plus raw power from his 6-foot-7, 240-pound frame, though he’s still learning how to fully tap into that power in games. Wood sees the ball and has good bat-to-ball skills but could improve his aggressiveness early in counts, when he’s more likely to get a pitch he’s able to drive.
Age: 18 | Bats: R | Throws: R | ETA: 2026
MLB Pipeline Grades: Hit: 45 | Power: 60 | Run: 50 | Arm: 70 | Field: 50 | Overall: 50
FanGraphs Grades (2021): Hit: 20/40 | Game Power: 25/60 | Raw Power: 60/70 | Speed: 50/40 | Field: 40/50 | Future Value: 45
|2021 (18)||Joshua Baez||Rk||23||12||3||2||5||15.8%||29.5%||.158||.305||.303|
With high risk comes a high reward. Baez, who won’t turn 19 years old until the end of June, embodies that. The Vanderbilt commit began his professional career after being drafted by the Cardinals in the second round of the 2021 Draft. I’m leaning toward the optimistic side because the ceiling potential is so high. Baseball America gives Baez’s power and arm each a 70-grade. In other words, there are both plus-plus tools that have the potential to reach superstar caliber. There are, however, reasons to be cautious. The young outfielder looked understandably over-matched at the rookie level. He posted a .158 batting average and struck out nearly 30% of the time. There’s still a three-to-four-year timeline until he may be big-league ready, but exit velocities of 107 mph and throws clocked at 97 mph make me hopeful.
There might not be a player from the 2021 Draft class with more raw pop than Baez. It shows up in games against good competition, like when he crushed a home run with an exit velocity well over 100 mph at the Area Code Games. With that power comes a lot of swing and miss, especially when he gets too home-run happy. He doesn’t take bad swings or get fooled, but just swings through pitches while trying to hit the ball 600 feet every time. There is hope that when he learns to trust his strength and tone down his swing, he’ll make more contact and find his power is naturally there.
Age: 22 | Bats: R | Throws: R | ETA: 2022
MLB Pipeline Grades: Hit: 45 | Power: 50 | Run: 55 | Arm: 55 | Field: 55 | Overall: 45
FanGraphs Grades: Hit: 30/40 | Game Power: 35/60 | Raw Power: 60/70 | Speed: 50/50 | Field: 40/50 | Future Value: 45+
|2018 (18)||Allan Cerda||FRk||51||47||11||6||3||11.7%||21.0%||.272||.402||.439|
|2019 (19)||Allan Cerda||Rk||39||29||6||9||2||12.1%||33.9%||.220||.360||.470|
|2021 (21)||Allan Cerda||A||87||76||22||17||2||11.3%||28.9%||.250||.361||.523|
Looking at different scouting grades, Cerda is an exciting player. This is doubly true when you consider that MLB Pipeline is more conservative than FanGraphs. (With many of the players I’ve looked at, it’s usually the other way around.) Cerda’s hit tool is average at best, but he’s got magnificent bat speed and enormous power potential. Scouts from MLB Pipeline and FanGraphs question his plate discipline. Baseball America, however, reports Cerda has “an excellent understanding of the strike zone [and] knows how to take a walk when pitchers nibble.” The Reds seem to have faith in Cerda, having promoted him to the team’s 40-man roster in late 2021.
Cerda is still listed at a comical 6-foot-3, 170 pounds, but he’s probably closer to 6-foot-5, 225 now, and has enjoyed all the raw power that comes with that extra size and strength. He hit 17 homers and nearly 40 extra-base hits in just 87 games in 2021 and has a .250/.373/.488 career line since 2018. Cerda has ferocious bat speed, and his swing finishes with a helicopter swirl over his head.
Cabrera has been in the Yankees organization for a while now (he signed as an amateur free agent out of Venezuelan 2015). However, Oswaldo finally had some breakout success in 2021. During the shutdown, he improved his strength, leading to Cabrera making harder contact and hitting 29 balls out of the yard. There are some holes in his swing, but he took significant steps forward from 2020 to 2021. Cabrera can play adequate defense at second, third, and shortstop, but the mediocre arm will likely push him to second base.
The shortstop was a three-sport athlete in high school and didn’t focus his energy on one sport until his pro debut. Nonetheless, Montgomery was the White Sox first-round draft pick in 2021 and quickly sailed up the team’s prospect boards. His ability to understand the strike zone, stay disciplined and make hard contact give him a solid hit tool. In addition, there’s potential for Montgomery to grow into some power. He also projects as an above-average defender.
Arteaga makes playing the shortstop position look easy by flaunting impeccable footwork, range, and arm strength. He also surprised scouts by launching nine home runs in 2021. Arteaga has quick bat speed and can make solid contact. However, he tends to chase balls out of the zone, leading to a 31.0% strikeout rate in 2021. Nevertheless, I don’t think it’s unrealistic to say Arteaga could put up a 20-20 (home runs and stolen bases) season.
Unlike some other players in this tier, Muncy doesn’t have one tool that out-performs the rest. Instead, he does everything well. Muncy projects above-average tools across the board, carrying both the hit and power tool and not sacrificing one for another. His strong defensive fundamentals will allow him to slide around the diamond.
Lewis has been compared to fellow Bahamian Jazz Chisholm Jr. After all; they are both lightning-quick middle infielders with a surprising amount of pop in their bats for their size. In addition, Lewis put up good offensive numbers in his first taste of professional ball. Through 43 games at the rookie-level, the 18-year-old slashed .302/.354/.497 with ten doubles, five triples, three home runs, and nine stolen bases. If he sustains this early success, Lewis could become one of baseball’s most exciting prospects.
Clase’s speed is at least a 70-grade, making him a base-stealing threat and nicely complimenting his defensive instincts. However, there are some injury concerns. Hamstring and quad strains have kept Clase off the field for significant periods. Although there isn’t much power to be found, there’s still a lot there. If he can stay healthy, Baseball America says his “speed, defense, and switch-hitting ability make him a potential breakout candidate.”
There’s a lot to like if you’re the Texas Rangers. Harris possesses plus hit and power tools thanks to a knack for barrel control and a great understanding of the strike zone. At every level, Harris has flat-out hit. After slashing .325/.403/.407 at the Rookie and Low-A levels in 2019, Harris took a huge step forward in the power department. More impressively, he did so without sacrificing his high-average, low-strikeout approach. Of course, the most significant question mark is Harris’ defense, but the Rangers will find a spot for him as Dustin hits.
Valerio’s hit tool is remarkable, with FanGraphs giving it a 70 on the 20-80 scale. He’s a small guy, 5-foot-7 and 165 pounds. However, Felix understands how to make his size work for him from a plate discipline perspective. In 231 career minor league games, Valerio has walked more times than he’s struck out. Although he hit double-digit home runs in 2021, scouts don’t expect much in terms of power.
Sweeney went undrafted out of high school but turned himself into a first-round draft prospect at Eastern Illinois. He’s well-rounded offensively, able to recognize different pitch types, cover all zone areas, and make solid hard-hit contact. Some scouts believe that Trey will ultimately end up playing third base due to his large size.
Roberto Campos, OF in Detroit Tigers organization: Impressive raw power.
Eddys Leonard, SS in Los Angeles Dodgers organization: Incredible bat speed that sustains his hit tool.
Andry Lara, RHP Washington Nationals organization: Fastball in the upper 90s.
Hendry Mendez, OF in Milwaukee Brewers organization: Plus hit tool who makes hard contact.
Yhoswar Garcia, OF in Philadelphia Phillies organization: An extremely athletic player with plus-plus (70) speed.
Norge Vera, RHP in Chicago White Sox organization: Has touched triple digits with his fastball.
Brayan Bello, RHP in Boston Red Sox organization: Upper 90s fastball with plus slider and changeup.
Denzer Guzman, SS in Los Angeles Angels organization: Believed to be one of the best pure hitters in the 2020 international prospect class.
Robby Martin Jr.
This product’s crop of Bowman doesn’t include one massive standout prospect. However, there is a good deal of depth here. Any player amongst the first two tiers, and possibly lower, could emerge as a star by fixing some holes in their game. So, invest carefully.