The crop of rookies and potential rookies this year is particularly deep. Shortstop Bobby Witt Jr. and Julio Rodriguez made the opening day rosters for their teams. Meanwhile, blue-chip prospects like Adley Rutschman are expected to be called up later this year. Indeed, the 2022 season is an absolute bonanza for prospect fans. However, there are some crucial questions for baseball card collectors to be answered. Each of these prospects and several others may have a massive rookie card. But which 2022 rookies will appear in Topps Series 2 and Update?
There are a few things to take into account here. First, Topps has long-standing rules regarding who gets a place in what release. These guiding principles can be confusing, so that we will recount them here in detail. In addition, Topps has its considerations and has been known to delay the inclusion of some rookies to build excitement for specific releases. To make sense of the madness, we will look into both factors and predict which rookies will be included in what release.
We associated the release of Series 1 with the beginning of the baseball season. It includes veterans and rookies called up very late in the previous season.
Meanwhile, Series 2 comes out with the year well underway and allows some scope for adjustment. However, that is misleading because the print list must be completed well before the release date.
This year Series 2 is expected to drop on June 8, 2022. That is a bit less than two months after opening day. So, it is undoubtedly possible for Topps to squeeze some of the opening day roster inclusions in Series 2. However, it would require some effort, and they will only do so if highly motivated.
Finally, Topps Update includes later callups, and RCs, which the company neglected to include in Series 2. Sometimes that can consist of some pretty big rookies. Obviously, the most famous is Mike Trout, who was called up in April 2012 but was overlooked for Series 2. His Update RC is now positively iconic.
In 2019, Topps made that effort to include Fernando Tatis Jr. in Series 2. Series 1 had some strong rookies that year as well. Kyle Tucker, Corbin Burnes, and Cedric Mullins were all featured on that list.
However, Series 2 overshadowed that release. Pete Alonso and Eloy Jimenez would make it a fantastic release. But of course, both were overshadowed by Fernando Tatis Jr. and his inclusion in the set.
On March 26, 2019, Fernando Tatis Jr. was called up to the San Diego Padres Opening Day roster. Despite having never played above Double-A ball, at 20 years old, Fernando was the youngest player to be called up to the Padres in franchise history.
As the no.2 prospect in baseball at the time, the shortstop was tremendously hyped. As a result, Topps rushed to include Tatis in Series 2, which dropped on June 12, 2019. That card has become the most iconic one in all the 2019 products.
But Topps doesn’t always rush to put the biggest names in the next release. Instead, they have postponed including big names to increase the hype for future releases on other occasions. One notable example is Wander Franco.
Franco had long been the no. 1 prospect in baseball when he was called up to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays on June 22, 2021. Unfortunately, that was too late for Series 2, which came out ten days earlier. However, it was more than enough time to include Tatis Jr. in the 2021 Topps Update, released on October 29, 2021.
Nonetheless, Topps decided to delay the inclusion of Wander Franco to 2022 Series 1. And when you look at the list of rookies in that release, you can see why. There is a severe dearth of high-quality prospects on that list, aside from Wander.
The two cases show that Topps is willing to ignore its rules for marketing purposes. That, of course, is their prerogative. It is a business, after all.
There are a lot of talented young players on the Opening Day rosters for the 2022 season. Indeed, 10 out of the top 100 Baseball America prospects made the rosters, the second-highest total in the last three decades. Why? It appears teams have decided to prefer putting together the best rosters over the pittance saved by manipulating rookie service time.
But among these prospects, three names stand head and shoulders above the rest in terms of fan expectations.
Bobby Witt Jr. – Shortstop – Kansas City Royals
Bobby has tremendous all-around capabilities, which is not surprising considering his impressive lineage. If you look at his scouting reports, Witt has 60 scores (80 is the highest) in hitting, power, running, and fielding. At first, the shortstop struggled with contact, but he solved that problem. Witt currently projects as an All-Star shortstop with significant power.
Julio Rodriguez – Outfielder – Seattle Mariners
Julio is the classic outfielder with serious power. His bat speed as a prospect was ridiculous, reaching 111 mph at its highest. Although not the best fielder or baserunner, the outfielder is competent enough in both to be an MLB star. No one would be surprised if Rodriguez ended up as a Hall of Famer, often leading the American League in homers.
Spencer Torkelson – First and Third Baseman – Detroit Tigers
Spencer is one of those incredible natural athletes who excel at every sport. Luckily for the MLB, he chose baseball. As a prospect, Torkelson stood out primarily for his tremendous power potential. But unlike most players with his tools, Spencer is a powerful contact hitter. The kind that could potentially compete for homer and batting titles. Considering that he is also an above-average fielder, the sky is the limit for the young Tiger.
The big three this year have the potential to be absolute superstars. But, it is a deep class, and there are a few other players worth keeping track of.
CJ looks like an outstanding future leadoff hitter with impressive speed and contact-hitting capabilities. With Tatis Jr. facing injury trouble, Abrams could get a lot of playing time very soon.
Unfortunately, pitchers don’t get a lot of love in the hobby. If they did, there would be more buzz around Hunter. His fastball can hit the 105 mph mark, and his slider is lethal. Sure, Greene could use better control, but for a 22-year-old pitcher, he is doing fine in that regard.
The Reds have an embarrassment of riches coming into their staff this year. Lodolo has fine control and a top-notch slider. He will be a reliable MLB starter if he can develop a second pitch to the same standard as his slider.
Suzuki is 27 years old, which limits his hobby value. But if he makes it big, he could have a massive market in Japan.
Brash can be an ace or a reliever, or anything in between. He has the stuff to be dominant, but control is a serious issue.
Stott is likely to be an MLB starter but not a star with solid but unspectacular all-around tools.
Jeremy is an excellent fielder and should be a regular MLB starter. But he doesn’t have the kind of bat you want for a hobby investment.
Because of all the callups, there is a ton of excitement around the Opening Day rosters. However, some of the prospects with the highest upside are still in the minors and likely to be called up during the season.
With hitting and power well above average and a cannon for an arm, Rutschman seems destined to be the best catcher of his generation. The youngster will be called up early in the season, likely in late May or June.
Scouts believe he has the potential to be a long-term ace. Baz’s reliable 100 mph fastball is his not-so-secret weapon. But Shane already enjoys above-average control, so expect great things from this prospect. We expect a callup in July or so.
Greene has all-around tools that we associate with a perennial All-Star. His contact hitting is particularly spectacular, but he projects to possess above-average power and fielding skills. We expect him to surface in the show around July.
There is no question that Grayson has Major League stuff. However, there is some controversy over his ceiling. Some consider him a potential ace, citing his high 90s fastball and control. Others say his ceiling is a no. 2 starter. I would be surprised if the Orioles don’t call Rodriguez up by July.
Volpe gets a lot of hype because he is a Yankees prospect. But he projects to be an excellent MLB starter, with an above-average bat and competent fielding. So we may see him this year, but a good chance Volpe will remain in the minors this year.
Now comes the brave part. I will do my best to predict who will end up in what release. Most of these will probably be right if Topps follows their old patterns and the callups are roughly along estimated lines. But who knows.
|Player||Callup ETA||Expected Release|
|Bobby Witt Jr.||Opening Day||Series 2|
|Julio Rodriguez||Opening Day||Series 2/Update|
|Spencer Torkelson||Opening Day||Series 2/Update|
|CJ Abrams||Opening Day||Series 2|
|Hunter Greene||Opening Day||Series 2|
|Nick Lodolo||Opening Day||Series 2|
|Seiya Suzuki||Opening Day||Update|
|Matt Brash||Opening Day||Series 2|
|Bryson Stott||Opening Day||Update|
|Jeremy Peña||Opening Day||Series 2|
|Adley Rutschman||June||2023 Series 1|
|Shane Baz||July||2023 Series 1|
|Riley Greene||July||2023 Series 1|
|Anthony Volpe||Opening Day 2023||2023 Series 2|
So, my guess is that Witt will headline Series 2. Topps will hold off either Rodriguez or Torkelson or both for Update. No matter when Adley arrives, I believe Topps will want him to headline the 2023 Series 1 release.
No matter who gets included, the 2022 rookie class projects to be absolutely incredible. It would be surprising if 2-3 superstars didn’t emerge from the bunch. Topps has a great selection of rookies for 2022. Unfortunately, there is no chance that the 2023 crop will be anywhere near as desirable. Therefore, expect Topps to stagger their inclusion into releases well into 2023. Either way, baseball collectors have a lot to be excited about.