Baby Face Killas

2023 Topps Series 1’s Meanest RCs

Date: Feb 13, 2023
Topics: Collecting, RCs, Topps Series 1
Length: 1352 Words
Reading Time: ~7 Minutes

Few things in the hobby of card collecting match the rush of ripping open a pack to find one of the year’s most coveted rookie cards. The 2023 Topps Series 1 set will feature a group of rising stars who will help carry their respective franchises into the next generation.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the standout rookies who will be available in the Series 1 release.

Adley Rutschman, C, Baltimore Orioles

While the development curve for catchers is often longer than other position players, Rutschman proved there are exceptions to every rule as he cruised through the O’s minor league system, needing just 651 at-bats across parts of three seasons before reaching The Show last May.

The 2019 first-overall pick was nothing short of dominant upon his arrival in Baltimore. He posted an .806 OPS with 13 home runs and four stolen bases, allowing him to rank second among all MLB catchers with a 5.3 fWAR despite playing just 113 games.

Fun Fact: Won the College World Series Most Outstanding Player Award with Oregon State in 2018.

Nolan Gorman, 2B, St. Louis Cardinals

You want power? Gorman will provide it. The versatile infielder crushed 73 home runs in just 350 games in the minors, and his pop continued to shine through during his first 89 appearances for the Cards last year as he wrapped up his debut campaign with 14 long balls.

Gorman has enough lightning in his bat to eventually challenge for a National League home run title once he earns a full-time role for the Redbirds. Even if he splits playing time in 2023, he shouldn’t have much trouble cracking 20 homers for the first time in a promising career.

Fun Fact: First player born in the year 2000 to get drafted by an MLB team when he was selected by the Cardinals with the 19th pick in the 2018 draft.

Michael Harris II, OF, Atlanta Braves

Harris wasn’t a highly touted, top-100 prospect for his entire minor league career like most of the players on this list. It took a couple of years of elite defense and an improving bat before the baseball community started to realize his high-end potential.

Atlanta called him up last May as the club struggled to overcome a rash of injuries. The dynamic outfielder responded by helping the team surge with a 14-game winning streak and wrapped up the year with NL Rookie of the Year honors on the strength of 19 homers and 20 steals in 114 games.

Fun Fact: Considered attending Texas Tech’s School of Veterinary Medicine before opting to sign with the Braves out of high school in 2019.

Gabriel Moreno, C, Arizona Diamondbacks

Moreno has long showcased high-end ball-to-bat skills since signing with the Toronto Blue Jays as an international free agent in 2016. He compiled a .310 batting average in five minor league seasons, striking out just 133 times in 962 at-bats, a minuscule rate in the modern game.

Now, after hitting .319 in 25 games for the Jays last season, he’s on his way to Arizona following an offseason trade that sent him and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. to the D-Backs in exchange for Daulton Varsho. Heading to a hitter-friendly park only further increases his upside.

Fun Fact: Native of Barquisimeto, Venezuela, which is home to fellow major leaguers Carlos Carrasco, Andrés Giménez, and Manny Piña.

Triston Casas, 1B, Boston Red Sox

The Red Sox have watched a lot of talent walk out of their Fenway Park clubhouse in recent years, so a return to prominence relies heavily on prospects like Casas rising up to fill the void. It’s a challenge made tougher by the amount of competition in the AL East.

Casas played his first 27 major league games last year and provided a glimpse at his potential with a .358 on-base percentage and five homers. He’s ticketed for a full-time starting role in 2023, and that’ll likely translate into a true breakout year for the infielder.

Fun Fact: Won a silver medal with Team USA at the 2021 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

Gunnar Henderson, SS, Baltimore Orioles

Henderson was one of the few prospects who generated as much hype as his teammate, Rutschman, last season, and they have the look of a fearsome duo capable of anchoring the Orioles lineup toward championship contention in the coming years.

The shortstop didn’t make his MLB debut until late August, but even a 34-game cup of coffee provided a glimpse into his bright future. He played at a 4.8 fWAR pace, which across a full season would have ranked sixth among players at the position.

Fun Fact: Named an Alabama All-State basketball player at John T. Morgan Academy in 2019.

Oswald Peraza, SS, New York Yankees

Peraza’s biggest hurdle in terms of chasing AL Rookie of the Year honors this season isn’t talent — he’s got no shortage of that — but rather a crowded group of Yanks infield options that also includes Anthony Rizzo, Gleyber Torres, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Josh Donaldson and DJ LeMahieu.

He provided a little tease of his upside late last year with a .306/.404/.429 slash line across 18 appearances before getting a chance to start in the postseason. Once he finally cracks the New York lineup for good, he’ll likely retain the role for the long haul.

Fun Fact: Made his first playoff start at the same age as Yankees legend Derek Jeter (22).

Vaughn Grissom, SS, Atlanta Braves

Grissom started the 2022 season in Single-A Advanced and finished the year in the big leagues with Atlanta, which leaned heavily on rookies to provide production en route to the club’s fifth straight NL East division title.

His quick jump to baseball’s biggest stage was mostly because of his offensive prowess — .792 OPS, five homers, and five steals in 41 games—and now he’ll look to prove his defense can eventually reach the same level to make him one of the game’s best shortstops.

Fun Fact: Became the first player in the modern era to hit a home run and steal a base in his MLB debut.

Brett Baty, 3B, New York Mets

When the Mets reached an agreement with Carlos Correa on a lucrative free-agent deal, it threw Baty’s short-term future into question. Now, with Correa’s deal falling through as he instead returned to the Minnesota Twins, the prized prospect is back in the spotlight

Baty should be given a chance to win the starting third base job in spring training, a competition also likely to include Eduardo Escobar. The 23-year-old Texas native, who mashed 38 homers in 237 games in the minors, is the more potent option and may be ready to shine in 2023.

Fun Fact: Fifth player in Mets history to hit a home run in their first career at-bat.

Riley Greene, OF, Detroit Tigers

Few prospects entered last season with more hype than Greene, who demolished minor league pitching to the tune of a .921 OPS across 485 at-bats in 2021. His five-tool upside makes him the ideal cornerstone for the rebuilding Tigers.

Unfortunately, his arrival to the big leagues was delayed by a foot injury, which surely impacted his first 93-game stint in Detroit. He’s still one of the brightest stars on the ascent in the league, and that’ll likely be on full display in 2023.

Fun Fact: Became the first Tigers player to hit a walk-off home run for his first career homer since Lou Whitaker in 1978.

Miguel Vargas, 1B, Los Angeles Dodgers

Few players have dominated the minors in recent seasons to the same degree as Vargas, who made light work of minor league pitching with an .878 OPS, 49 home runs, and 47 stolen bases in 410 appearances over the last four years.

Although he’s still looking for a permanent defensive home, the Dodgers will likely have a hard time keeping his game-changing bat out of the lineup, especially with the DH now in the National League. His stock should rise even further this season.

Fun Fact: His father, Lázaro, won two Olympic gold medals in baseball with the Cuban national team.

These are just a sample of the numerous prized prospects who will grace rookie cards in this year’s Series 1 release. These are the players with a chance to completely take over the sport for the next decade, making their rookies valuable commodities in the process.


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