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Prospect Positional: 3B

by Matthew Foreman
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:09 pm ET

This week’s Prospect Positional will cover third basemen, a position in that includes many of the top power prospects in the minor leagues, two older prospects in the lower part and a few young prospects who are far away.

 

Note: All statistics are current through Sunday, June 15.

 

Updated top-15

 

Updated April 29 Pre-Season Name MLB Team MiLB Team
1 1 1 Miguel Sano Twins DL
2 2 2 Kris Bryant Cubs Tennessee (AA)
3 4 7 Joey Gallo Rangers Frisco (AA)
4 3 3 Maikel Franco Phillies Lehigh Valley (AAA)
5 6 12 D.J. Peterson Mariners High Desert (High-A)
6 9 N/R Rio Ruiz Astros Lancaster (High-A)
7 8 8 Colin Moran Marlins Jupiter (High-A)
9 5 N/R Ryan McMahon Rockies Asheville (Low-A)
9 7 5 Garin Cecchini Red Sox Pawtucket (AAA)
10 15 N/R Hunter Dozier Royals Wilmington (High-A)
11 11 6 Rosell Herrera Rockies Modesto (High-A)
12 10 N/R Eric Jagielo Yankees Tampa (High-A)
13 N/R N/R Adam Duvall Giants Fresno (AAA)
14 N/R N/R Seth Mejias-Brean Reds Bakersfield (High-A)
15 14 10 Matt Davidson White Sox Charlotte (AAA)

 

Small sample size

 

Updated April 29 Pre-Season Name MLB Team MiLB Team
1 1 1 Miguel Sano Twins DL
12 10 N/R Eric Jagielo Yankees Tampa (High-A)

 

An argument could be made that both Kris Bryant and Joey Gallo have passed Miguel Sano, but, barring a physical setback for Sano (or even better production for Bryant and/or Gallo), he should remain the top third base prospect through the season.

 

Eric Jagielo was hitting .256/.339/.500 with eight doubles and ten home runs on May 20 when he was removed from a game due to tightness on his right side, and has not played since.  The 22-year old Jagielo is putting up good numbers in the High-A Florida State League, but he is close to the average age and is unlikely to be challenged until he reaches Double-A.

 

Superb performance

 

Updated April 29 Pre-Season Name MLB Team MiLB Team
2 2 2 Kris Bryant Cubs Tennessee (AA)
3 4 7 Joey Gallo Rangers Frisco (AA)
5 6 12 D.J. Peterson Mariners High Desert (High-A)
7 8 8 Colin Moran Marlins Jupiter (High-A)
10 15 N/R Hunter Dozier Royals Wilmington (High-A)

 

Kris Bryant is thoroughly dominating the Double-A Southern League, hitting .355/.458/.702 with 20 doubles and 22 home runs.  He will likely be promoted to Triple-A Iowa after the Southern League All-Star game on June 17.

 

After hitting .323/.466/.735 with 21 home runs in 58 games for High-A Myrtle Beach, Joey Gallo was promoted to Double-A Frisco, where he has continued to hit for power and strike out too much.  He is currently hitting .308/.419/.808 with four home runs in seven games.  Gallo’s isolated power has increased from .365 in 2013 to .423 in 2014 while he’s decreased his strikeout rate (from 36.8% in 2013 to 27.1% in 2014) and increased his walk rate (from 10.7 in 2013 to 20.2% in 2014).

 

D.J. Peterson started 2014 slowly, hitting just .267/.306/.381 through his first 25 games, but has hit well since then, putting up a .349/.406/.711 line with 15 doubles and 13 home runs.  He could be in line for a promotion to Double-A Jackson within the next few weeks, possibly as soon as after the California League vs. Carolina League All-Star Game on June 17.

 

Colin Moran’s .292/.330/.406     line is more solid than spectacular, but he struggled in the early part of the season, hitting just .256/.299/.338 over his first 33 games, but has hit a scintillating .362/.392/.536 over his last 16 games.  He is an advanced hitter who could be in Miami by mid-2015.

 

Much like Colin Moran, Hunter Dozier’s .290/.397/.410 line is the product of a slow start during which he hit .227/.348/.303 over his first 38 games.  Since then, Dozier has hit .391/.468/.609 with 14 doubles and two home runs.  His lack of over-the-fence power is concerning, but he projects as a .285 hitter with 10-15 home run power.

 

Holding serve

 

Updated April 29 Pre-Season Name MLB Team MiLB Team
6 9 N/R Rio Ruiz Astros Lancaster (High-A)
9 5 N/R Ryan McMahon Rockies Asheville (Low-A)
9 7 5 Garin Cecchini Red Sox Pawtucket (AAA)
11 11 6 Rosell Herrera Rockies Modesto (High-A)
13 N/R N/R Adam Duvall Giants Fresno (AAA)
14 N/R N/R Seth Mejias-Brean Reds Bakersfield (High-A)

 

Despite his .290/.388/.425 looking more like a good season than a step forward, Rio Ruiz may have taken his first big step forward in 2014.  He has improved his walk rate (10.6% in 2013 to 14.1% in 2014) and lowered his strikeout rate (19.5% to 17.1%), which are often harbingers of prospects taking steps forward in their development.

 

Ryan McMahon has hit a pretty good .281/.360/.524 with 22 doubles, two triples and ten home runs for the season.  However, McMahon has crushed right-handed pitching, hitting .399/.383/.586 while hitting just .243/.310/.392 against lefties.  He projects as a .300 hitter with 20 home runs, but he will need to improve against lefties before he will have a chance to displace Rosell Herrera, let alone Nolan Arenado.

 

Garin Cecchini made the most of his Major League debut, going 1-for-2 with a double during his one day in the show.  His line for Triple-A Pawtucket has been less impressive, as he has hit .261/.343/.327 with eight doubles and two home runs over 61 games.  Cecchini’s power has yet to begin to materialize, and Wil Middlebrooks and Xander Bogaerts blocking him at third base.  His future is uncertain, though he will need to hit more to have a real case for a call-up.

 

Rosell Herrera missed six weeks with a wrist injury, and has hit .262/.423/.532 in the 12 games since his return, raising his season line to .303/.341/.378 with three doubles and two home runs over 30 games.  He has played roughly half of his games at shortstop and the other half at third base, and projects as a third baseman long term.

 

Adam Duvall has hit .294/.358/.628 with 21 home runs for Triple-A Fresno, successfully stretching the definition of a prospect to include a 25-year old who was an 11th round pick out of Louisville in 2010.  He has the power to hit 25 home runs at the major league level, but he may only hit .250 while playing poor defense.  Pablo Sandoval blocks him at third base, and Brandon Belt, Mike Morse and (occasionally) Buster Posey block him at first base.  He could be a low-cost replacement for Sandoval if he gets injured or leaves via free agency after the season.

 

On one hand, Seth Mejias-Brean is hitting .300/.396/.476 with eight doubles, three triples and 11 home runs and a 49:44 K:BB ratio in his first season in the High-A California League (not counting a three-game cameo in 2013).  On the other hand, he spent three years at the University of Arizona, is 23 years old, has grounded into nine double plays and is putting up a merely solid line in a great league for hitters in a league where he is older than the average hitter.  Mejias-Brean has the potential to hit .280 at the major league level, but he only has the power to hit 5-10 home runs while playing average defense at third base.  If everything clicks, he could carve out a Chris Johnson-like career.

 

Struggling

 

Updated April 29 Pre-Season Name MLB Team MiLB Team
4 3 3 Maikel Franco Phillies Lehigh Valley (AAA)
15 14 10 Matt Davidson White Sox Charlotte (AAA)

 

In 2013, Maikel Franco hit .320/.356/.569 with 36 doubles and 31 home runs between High-A Clearwater and Double-A Reading.  Thus far in 2014, he has hit .212/.274/.333 with 14 doubles and five home runs.  His walk rate has increased from 5.2% to 7.2%, while his strikeout rate has increased from 12.0% to 15.9%.  Additionally, his isolated power has dropped precipitously, from .249 to .122.  In some ways, Franco is a victim of bad luck, as his BABIP has dropped from .338 to .238, but that does not entirely explain his decreasing in nearly every statistical category, save walk rate.  He won’t turn 22 until the end of August, but for a prospect that was expected to contribute at the major league level in 2014, his struggles have been disconcerting.

 

The White Sox traded for Matt Davidson with the intention of installing him as their everyday third baseman.  Despite hitting .308/.341/.564 in 41 plate appearances in the Cactus League, Davidson was sent to Triple-A Charlotte where he has failed to produce, putting up an .180/.252/.356 line in 61 games.  Even more troubling, he has struck out 85 times in 246 plate appearances (34.6%) after striking out 134 times in 500 plate appearances (26.8%) while in Triple-A in 2013.    If he doesn’t figure something out, he may never return to the major leagues.

 

On the Bubble (listed alphabetically)

 

Updated April 29 Pre-Season Name MLB Team MiLB Team
Bubble Bubble N/R Rafael Devers Red Sox DSL (F-Rookie)
Bubble Bubble N/R Luis Encarnacion Phillies N/A
Bubble 12 N/R Mitch Nay Blue Jays Lansing (Low-A)

 

Rafael Devers has made the Red Sox international scouting department look good so far, hitting .408/.508/.735 with three home runs through 13 games in the Dominican Summer League.  While it is always better to see success than failure, these numbers need to be taken with a few pounds of salt.  The quality of play in these leagues is uneven, and the value of their statistics is roughly equivalent to a regular high school game.  However, Devers’ perfect-world projection is a .300 hitter with 20 home runs, though he is likely to need to move to first base or left field as he fills out.

 

Luis Encarnacion has yet to make his professional debut, and has the ability to hit 20-25 home runs while playing a solid third base.  Encarnacion is expected to make his professional debut in the Gulf Coast League in the next few weeks.

 

Mitch Nay has the physical ability to hit .280 with 20-plus home runs, but he is a poor athlete who is raw at third base.  He is currently hitting .273/.339/.426 with 11 doubles, three triples and two home runs in the Low-A Midwest League.   After a solid April, during which he hit .290/.343/.387, Nay hit .233/.302/.310 in May, though he did have 12 strikeouts and 12 walks in 129 plate appearances.  He has been hot in June, hitting .350/.435/.475 with three doubles and a triple.

Matthew Foreman
Matthew Foreman is a baseball prospect writer for Rotoworld. He can also be found on Twitter.