When the 2020 Minor League season was canceled due to COVID, it created somewhat of a top prospect log jam. Players who were big league ready following the 2019 season, along with many players taken in the 2020 draft, were all sidelined from live reps for an entire year.
Many of the more advanced players developed their skills at the alternate sites for MLB teams, while others utilized individualized training programs in their own settings. When 2021 came around there were essentially two rookie classes (2020 and 2021) developing in the upper minors and now that the 2021 season is over, we are left with one of the strongest Top 100 Prospect lists the hobby has ever seen.
In this article, we are going to break down my Top 10 Prospects with Bowman Chrome Autos, who could make their Major League debut during the 2022 season.
The MLB Lockout is still in full swing and resolutions are moving at a snail’s pace so there is still plenty of time to grab some of these prospects before the 2022 season starts. I’ve added comps to each breakdown for each player’s 1st Bowman Chrome Autograph. If you’re looking for a cheaper option – I’ve listed where to find their 1st Chrome Prospect Cards as well (Some players DO NOT have a 1st Chrome Prospect Card).
JOSE MIRANDA (1B/3B | Minnesota Twins | Organizational Rank: 8)
2021: 23/AAA | PA: 591 | AVG: .344 | HR: 30 | ISOP: 228 | K%: 12.5
Release: 2021 Bowman Retail (1st Paper Auto Only)
Comps: 1st Paper Auto: $85
Jose Miranda was not on anyone’s radar prior to the 2021 season, but he gained a significant amount of attention when he put together one of the most impressive offensive seasons in the minors.
He was in the top five of several MiLB offensive categories including hits (1st), RBI (6th), and batting average (7th). Miranda hit for power, average, and kept his strikeout numbers well in check over the course of the 2021 season.
Miranda may have broken into my Top 10, but, as I mentioned before, his MiLB career was rather dismal, making his performance in 2021 seem a bit abnormal. If you are interested in buying Miranda’s Bowman 1st Autos you will have to find some 2021 Bowman Retail. More bad news, they are paper only cards, which are notorious for tough grades.
BRYSON STOTT (SS | Philadelphia Phillies | Organizational Rank: 2)
2021: 23/AAA | PA: 487 | AVG: .299 | HR: 16 | ISOP: .187 | K%: 22.2
Release: 2019 Bowman Draft (1st Auto & 1st Chrome)
Comps: 1st Chrome Auto: $100 | 1st Chrome: $7
Bryson Stott put together an incredible year in Triple-A and extended his performance to the Arizona Fall League where he hit .318 with a 0.58 K/BB ratio. Stott has fringe power but can hit for average and take walks making him a potential OBP machine. He also plays outstanding defense at shortstop, putting less pressure on his bat. Didi Gregorious was nothing short of awful in 2021 and Stott has a chance to break big league Spring Training as the Phillies everyday shortstop in 2022.
NOLAN GORMAN (2B | St. Louis Cardinals | Organizational Rank: #1)
2021: 21/AAA | PA: 523 | AVG: 279 | HR: 25 | ISOP: 202 | K%: 21.9
Release: 2018 Bowman Draft (1st Auto & 1st Chrome)
Comps: 1st Chrome Auto: $125 | 1st Chrome: $15
Nolan Gorman has shown the ability to hit for average and a ton of power at every level throughout his MiLB career. He’s got some serious thud from the left side of the plate and hit 25 homers in 2021 between Double-A and Triple-A as a 21 year old. He extended his 2021 hit parade into the Arizona Fall League, where he hit .375 over a handful of games before being sidelined by a hamstring injury. Gorman would have a better shot at breaking into my Top 10 if his K/BB ratio was a bit closer to some of the other power prospects on the list. The 3.02 K/BB isn’t terrible, but the competition on this list was extremely stiff.
The Top 10 Prospects with Bowman Chrome Autos
10. TRISTON CASAS (1B | Boston Red Sox | Organizational Rank: #2)
2021: 21/AAA | PA: 371 | AVG: .279 | HR: 14 | ISOP: .205 | K%: 19.1
Release: 2018 Bowman Draft (1st Auto & 1st Chrome)
Comps: 1st Chrome Auto: $140 | 1st Chrome: $15
Casas was a first round draft pick in 2018 out of high school. He’s got one of the most versatile left-handed bats in MiLB, hitting for both average and power while maintaining superb strikeout numbers. Casas has held a career K/BB ratio of 1.65 and between Double-A and Triple-A in 2021 he hit .279 with 14 homers and a .205 ISOP.
If Casas didn’t prove enough during the regular season, he continued to find the barrel in the Arizona Fall League where he hit .372 with a near 1/1 K/BB ratio over 97 plate appearances. Casas is the No. 2 prospect in the Red Sox organization behind Marcelo Mayer and could make his debut towards the front half of the season, especially if Kyle Schwarber does not return to the club.
9. GABRIEL MORENO (C | Toronto Blue Jays | Organizational Rank: #1)
2021: 21/AAA | PA: 159 | AVG: .367 | HR: 8 | ISOP: .259 | K%: 15.7
Release: 2020 Bowman Chrome (1st Auto Only)
Comps: 1st Chrome Auto: $125 | 1st Chrome: N/A
I was a bit hesitant to put Moreno on this list since he missed so much of his 2021 season with a thumb injury, but after his performance in the Arizona Fall League, I couldn’t leave him off.
Moreno was signed out of Venezuela in 2017 and was recently added to the Blue Jays 40-man roster to avoid the 2021 Rule 5 Draft. His career numbers are immaculate; over the course of 802 professional plate appearances, Moreno has hit .308, with a .191 ISOP, and a K% of 14.7. After the thumb injury, he stayed on track with his career numbers posting a .367 batting average and a whopping .259 ISOP as a 21-year-old in the upper minors.
The finishing touch to his breakout 2021 season came when he hit .329 in the Arizona Fall League. There are a lot of question marks around who will be the full-time catcher in Toronto in 2022 and Moreno has forced his name into the mix. Unfortunately, Moreno does not have a 1st chrome base card so you’ll have to shell out a pretty penny for him.
8. BRENNEN DAVIS (OF | Chicago Cubs | Organizational Rank: #1)
2021: 21/AAA | PA: 416 | AVG: .260 | HR: 19 | ISOP: .234 | K%: 28.3
Release: 2018 Bowman Draft (1st Chrome) & 2020 Bowman (1st Auto)
Comps: 1st Chrome Auto: $115 | 1st Chrome: $10
Brennen Davis gained a lot of hobby traction when he hit two home runs in the 2021 MLB Futures game. He was a second-round pick out of high school in 2018, but had some issues staying healthy early in his MiLB career. When healthy, Davis put up some solid MiLB career numbers holding a .277 batting average, with a .211 ISOP, and a 24.2% K rate.
He continued to pad his career stats in 2021 hitting .260, with a .234 ISOP, and a 28.3% K rate as a 21-year-old in Triple-A. Although Davis’ numbers may not be mind blowing, he’s only played in 167 games in his entire MiLB career. And yet, he’s managed to work himself all the way to Triple-A.
Defensively, Davis is a premium athlete in centerfield and could hold down the position for several years in Chicago. As you may know, the Cubs rebuild is officially in session and it could start with Brennen Davis in 2022. Buying his cards will be a bit confusing – you can find his 1st Chrome Prospect cards in 2018 Bowman Draft and his 1st Chrome autos in 2020 Bowman.
7. ALEK THOMAS (OF | Arizona Diamondbacks | Organizational Rank: #2)
2021: 21/AAA | PA: 495 | AVG: .313 | HR: 18 | SB: 13 | ISOP: .246 | K%: 20
Release: 2018 Bowman Draft (1st Auto & 1st Chome)
Comps: 1st Chrome Auto: $80 | 1st Chrome: $5
Alek Thomas was drafted in the second round of the 2018 MLB Draft out of high school. Thomas then quickly began making his impact felt in the Arizona Diamondbacks farm system. Over his extensive MiLB career Thomas has held a .312 batting average, with a .183 ISOP, 40 stolen bases, and a sub 20 K%.
In 2021, Thomas worked all the way to Triple-A as a 21-year-old, where he finally began to grow into some power. He did everything, as normal, offensively, but increased his ISO by 63 points up to .246. Thomas also recorded his third-consecutive season hitting over .300. After Corbin Carroll’s early 2021 injury, Thomas became the most big league ready outfielder in the D-Backs system. With a lack of competition at the big league level, Thomas could break with the club in 2022 as their everyday center fielder.
6. ONEIL CRUZ (SS | Pittsburgh Pirates | Organizational Rank: #3)
2021: 22/AAA | PA: 302 | AVG: 310 | HR: 17 | SB: 19 | ISOP: .284 | K%: 22.8
Release: 2016 Bowman Chrome (1st Auto & 1st Chrome)
Comps: 1st Auto: $15 | 1st Chrome: $15
Cruz is a 6’7” gazelle with some of the loudest tools in the Pirates organization. He made his MLB debut with the Bucs in 2021, playing a couple of games at the end of the regular season, and should break 2022 Spring Training as a regular in the lineup.
Over his career, spanning back to 2016 when he was signed out of the Dominican Republic, he’s hit .281, with a .182 ISOP, while posting a strikeout percentage just under 25%. Cruz spent the majority of the 2021 season between AA and AAA where he batted .310, with a .240 ISOP, 17 HR’s, 19 SB’s, and a 22.8% K rate. He’s a possible 20 home run/20 stolen base candidate for the 2022 season. If you want to find his 1st Bowman Chrome Autos and Prospect Cards you will have to search under his second alias “O’Neal Cruz”, you can thank Topps Quality Control for that one.
5. SPENCER TORKELSON (1B/3B | Detroit Tigers | Organizational Rank: #1)
2021: 21/AAA | PA: 530 | AVG: 267 | HR: 30 | ISOP: 285 | K%: 21.5
Release: 2020 Bowman Draft (1st Auto & 1st Chrome)
Comps: 1st Chrome Auto: $600 | 1st Chrome: $30
Torkelson was the first overall pick in the 2020 MLB Draft out of Arizona State University and made his professional debut in 2021 working from High-A all the way to Triple-A as a 21-year-old. Throughout his 530 plate appearances in 2021, Torkelson hit .267, with a .285 ISOP, and 30 home runs, while boasting a K% just over 20%.
Some hitters have difficulty adjusting to professional baseball in their first season, but Torkelson was not one of those players. He held an ISO higher than most player’s batting average and clobbered 30 home runs in his first season. Torkelson spent the majority of his games playing first base, which tends to hurt some players from a hobby standpoint, but his bat will make up for his defensive deficiencies. Torkelson has elite juice and his advanced approach and low strikeout numbers make him an outlier in the slugger scene. His 1st Chrome Autos are a bit pricey at $600 so if you aren’t a high roller, I would recommend picking up some of his clean Chrome 1st Prospect Cards for around $30.
4. RILEY GREENE (OF | Detroit Tigers | Organizational Rank: #2)
2021: 20/AAA | PA: 558 | AVG: .301 | HR: 24 | SB: 16 | ISOP: .233 | K%: 27.4
Release: 2019 Bowman Draft (1st Auto & 1st Chrome)
Comps: 1st Chrome Auto: $400 | 1st Chrome: $20
Many of you may wonder why I have Riley Greene in front of Spencer Torkelson on this list, but it’s my natural bias towards versatile players, with outstanding athleticism, that led to that decision. Greene is the second youngest player on this list and yet he managed to dominate every level of the minors before his 21st birthday.
Riley Greene can really do it all; he hits for power, hits for average, steals bags, and can play a solid centerfield where he spent 86 of his 125 games in 2021. Greene’s career numbers are nearly identical to his 2021 season where he hit .301, with 24 home runs, 16 stolen bases, a .233 ISO, and a K% of 27.4%.
Greene and Torkelson could be the epicenter for a legitimate Tigers rebuild. Greene is an exciting young player and if you can’t afford a 1st Chrome Auto for $400, I’d highly recommend picking up a 1st Chrome Prospect card.
3. BOBBY WITT JR (SS | Kansas City Royals | Organizational Rank: #1)
2021: 21/AAA | PA: 564 | AVG: .290 | HR: 33 | SB: 29 | ISOP: .285 | K%: 23.2
Release: 2020 Bowman (1st Auto & 1st Chrome)
Comps: 1st Chrome Auto: $850 | 1st Chrome: $30
Bobby Witt Jr. was drafted second overall in the 2019 MLB Draft out of HS and stumbled a bit in his professional debut that year. Due to this down year, there was a bit of skepticism heading into the 2021 season, but he quelled all doubters by putting up an insanely productive season that led to him being named the Minor League Player of the Year.
Out of all players with 30 homers in 2021, Witt was the only shortstop, held the highest batting average, and compiled the most stolen bases. He was also the first player under 22 to hit 30+ homers and hold a batting average above .290 since Austin Hayes in 2017. Over the span of 564 plate appearances this year, he hit .290, with 33 homers, 29 stolen bases, a .285 ISOP, and a 23.2% K rate as a 21-year-old in the upper minors. Following the 2021 season, Bobby Witt Jr. left no doubt as to who the best shortstop prospect in baseball was. He’s got superstar upside and could be a long-term hold from a hobby standpoint.
2. JULIO RODRIGUEZ (OF | Seattle Mariners | Organizational Rank: #1)
2021: 20/AA | PA: 340 | AVG: .347 | HR: 13 | SB: 21 | ISOP: .213 | K%: 22.6
Release: 2019 Bowman (1st Auto & 1st Chome)
Comps: 1st Chrome Auto: $700 | 1st Chrome: $30
The youngest player on this list, Julio Rodriguez has done nothing but rake at every level since the Seattle Mariners signed him out of the Dominican Republic back in 2018.
In 2019, Rodriguez hit .462 as an 18-year-old playing in High-A (4.5 years below league average age) and finished the season hitting .289 in the Arizona Fall League (4.1 years below league average age). After the COVID year ended, Julio blew through High-A and finished the season in Double-A as a 20-year-old, where he hit .347, with 13 homers, 21 stolen bases, a .213 ISO, and a 22.6% K rate.
We could be looking at one of the most advanced right-handed hitters the hobby has seen in years. Rodriguez should be making his professional debut sometime in 2022 and could be the first of many homegrown Seattle prospects to put them back into contention. If you are looking to pick up some Julio Rodriguez cards, I would definitely recommend buying singles. Wander Franco’s 1st Chrome cards are also in 2019 Bowman and since his emergence the product has become nearly unaffordable. Go ahead and grab a few singles before his ISO begins to catch up to his AVG.
1. ADLEY RUTSCHMAN (C | Baltimore Orioles | Organizational Rank: #1)
2021: 23/AAA | PA: 543 | AVG: .285 | HR: 23 | ISOP: .217 | K%: 16.5
Release: 2019 Bowman Draft (1st Auto & 1st Chrome)
Comps: 1st Chrome Auto: $500 | 1st Chrome: $30
After dominating the NCAA, hitting over .400 in his final two seasons at Oregon State, Adley Rutschman was selected with the first overall pick in the 2019 MLB Draft. His professional debut was a bit sluggish in 2019, but that is common for college draft picks who are already worn down from a full college season. After recuperating in 2020, Rutschman began his 2021 campaign in Double-A and after 80 games he was promoted to Triple-A.
During the 2021 season, the switch-hitting catcher posted a .285 batting average, with a .217 ISO, while hitting 23 home runs, and holding a 16.5% K rate. Rutschman has always possessed elite strikeout numbers throughout college and during his time in professional baseball, which is a great indicator of future success at the big league level. He’s also exceptional behind the plate. The Orioles farm system is loaded with talent that could put them back on the map in the AL East behind Rustchman’s leadership and talent.
If you are into baseball cards and baseball card prospecting, be sure to check out my YouTube Channel: Let’s Talk Wax. You can find a large assortment of content similar to this and more. Thanks for reading. Happy Prospecting!
- Jose Miranda 2020 Bowman Retail Paper Auto
- Bryson Stott 2019 Bowman Draft Auto
- Josh Jung 2019 Bowman Draft Auto
- Nolan Gorman 2018 Bowman Draft Auto
- Triston Casas 2018 Bowman Draft Auto
- Gabriel Moreno 2020 Bowman Chrome Auto
- Brennen Davis 2020 Bowman Auto
- Brennen Davis 2018 Bowman Draft 1st
- Alek Thomas 2018 Bowman Draft Auto
- O’Neill Crus 2016 Bowman Chrome Auto
- Spencer Torkelson 2020 Bowman Draft Auto
- Riley Greene 2019 Bowman Draft Auto
- Bobby Witt Jr. 2020 Bowman Auto
- Julio Rodriguez 2019 Bowman Auto
- Adley Rutschman 2019 Bowman Draft Auto