It’s finally here! The MLB season can unofficially start now with the drop of 2023 Topps Series 1 Baseball this week. The highly anticipated product has its share of super short prints like Home Field Advantage and Hidden Gems but is loaded with rookies as well.
A rookie class that I’d argue could be better than that of 2022. However, that’s some big cleats to fill with the likes of Wander Franco, Bobby Witt Jr., and Julio Rodriguez gracing the cardboard last year.
With so many young players being called up and sent down from the majors, it’s hard to keep track of what rookies you’re hunting for when ripping packs. After consideration and some research, here are some of the standouts you should look for in the Series 1 product.
I’ll start with the Orioles Adley Rutschman, who, to me, seemed like the talk of the town coming into this baseball hobby season. Some are even calling him the best draft prospect at catcher in the last decade, but it looks like he backed that claim up by finishing just second to Seattle’s Julio Rodriguez in the AL Rookie of the Year voting last year. After his call-up at the end of May in 2022, Rutschman had 101 hits in 113 games, with 49 extra-base hits and 42 RBI’s.
Rutschman’s O’s teammate Gunnar Henderson is also a part of this Topps rookie class. In Henderson’s case, he made the Orioles roster toward the end of the 2022 season, only playing 34 games for the club. At the time of his call-up, Henderson was the #1 prospect and youngest player in the show. He recorded a hit in 30 of those 34 games with 18 RBI’s and a batting average of .259. He’s currently a favorite in the 2023 AL Rookie of the Year race, and he and Rutschman create a real one-two punch for Baltimore this upcoming season as a young team who almost snuck into the playoffs last year.
Now we’d be remiss if we didn’t shine some light on 2022’s National League Rookie of the Year, Atlanta’s Michael Harris II. Like Rutschman, Harris got the promotion to the Braves in May of 2022, and by the season’s end, MLB Network ranked Harris the 5th best center-fielder.Harris can get it done on the offensive side of the ball as well, with 19 home runs, 64 RBI’s, 20 stolen bases, and an average just shy of .300.
Speaking of center-fielders, the next Topps rookie I’m looking at is the Detroit Tigers Riley Greene. Before Gunnar Henderson, Greene was the #1 prospect until his move to the majors in June 2022. Batting leadoff as a rookie, he ended last season just five hits shy of 100 in the 93 games he played. But like Harris, Greene can flash the leather in the outfield with no shortage of highlight reel catches.
This last one here is interesting. Gabriel Moreno spent the 2022 season just north of where we are with the Toronto Blue Jays. Moreno made his debut in June 2022 when Jays catcher Danny Jansen landed on the IL with a broken pinky. We got a small sample size of Moreno as he played only 25 games for the Jays, but in that short stint, he batted .319 for the team. The reason I chose to highlight him is the Blue Jays shipped the top-10 prospect to the desert as an early holiday gift to the Diamondbacks last December. Looking at the Dbacks depth chart, Moreno has the real opportunity to be behind the dish on opening day and make an impact for a team that has other young guns like Corbin Carroll, Druw Jones, and Jordan Lawlar in the organization, hopefully not far behind Moreno.
Like I said at the beginning, this rookie class has a lot of potential studs, especially in the hobby. There’s a shot we see players like Rutschman, Henderson, Greene, Harris, and Moreno carry another strong Topps rookie hobby torch. We’ll have to wait and see when the season starts in April, but in the meantime, continue your Topps Series 1 collecting quest!
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