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Prospect Positional: 3B

by Mike Rosenbaum
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

The rankings for third basemen are broken into three parts: the top 10 prospects in order, the next five prospects in alphabetical order and a ranking of the top third-base prospects from the 2015 draft. As always, these rankings are done from a scouting perspective but with fantasy baseball in mind, generally focusing on standard 5x5 league categories, though other statistics (e.g., OBP) are considered.

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The Top 10:

 

1. Rafael Devers, Boston Red Sox (Low-A Greenville, South Atlantic League)

2015 Stats: 102 G, 451 PA, .275/.318/.433, 61 R, 11 HR, 43 XBH, 64 RBI, 4.7% BB%, 17.5% K%

 

Devers, 18, hasn’t disappointed this year in his full-season debut at Greenville, posting a .751 OPS while ranking fourth in the South Atlantic League in doubles (31) and fifth in total bases (181) and RBI (tied-64). The left-handed-hitting third baseman’s numbers might be even more impressive if not for a late-season slump that’s seen him bat just .189/.287/.347 over his last 23 contests. Some of that can be attributed to poor luck, though, as Devers is batting .219 on balls in play with an 8.3% walk rate in that span. 

 

Fantasy Upside: .280+ AVG, .450+ SLG, 22-25 HR, 25+ 2B

 

2. Ryan McMahon, Colorado Rockies (High-A Modesto, California League)

2015 Stats: 118 G, 500 PA, .299/.374/.517, 74 R, 16 HR, 59 XBH, 68 RBI, 9.2% BB%, 27.6% K%

 

McMahon put up impressive numbers in his 2014 full-season debut at Low-A Asheville, ranking second in the South Atlantic League in runs (93), doubles (46), OPS (.860) and RBI (tied 102). The 20-year-old left-handed hitter also has big-time raw power with 18 home runs over 126 games. McMahon’s promising bat has translated as hoped in the California League this season, as he’s continued to jump the yard (16 HR) and pile up extra-base hits (44.4% XBH%) while also improving his walk rate (9.2%). But with a career-high strikeout rate (27.6%) and .401 batting average on balls in play, there are reasons to believe his current .299 batting average is rooted in luck.

 

Fantasy Upside: .260+ AVG, .350+ OBP, 22-25 HR, 30+ 2B

 

3. Brandon Drury, Arizona Diamondbacks (Triple-A Reno, Pacific Coast League)

2015 Stats: 123 G, 537 PA, .304/.345/.413, 59 R, 5 HR, 43 XBH, 58 RBI, 5.8% BB%, 14.0% K%

 

Drury is having a good-but-not-great season after a breakout 2014 campaign between the High- and Double-A levels. The 23-year-old began the season back in the Southern League, where he posted a disappointing .676 OPS with three home runs over 67 games for Double-A Montgomery. Drury has been much better since moving up to the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League in late June, however, amassing a .336/.390/.466 batting line, 23 doubles, two home runs and a 34/20 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 56 games at Triple-A Reno. With the Diamondbacks geared toward the future, Drury, who also has seen considerable time at second base this season, could finally get a crack at the major leagues next month.

 

Fantasy Upside: .270+ AVG, .400+ SLG, 15-20 HR, 25+ 2B

 

4. Eric Jagielo, New York Yankees (Double-A Trenton, Eastern League)

2015 Stats: 58 G, 248 PA, .284/.347/.495, 36 R, 9 HR, 27 XBH, 35 RBI, 7.3% BB%, 23.4% K%

 

Jagielo landed on the disabled list at Trenton in mid-June with a bruised right knee, but it wasn’t until early August that the 23-year-old finally underwent a lateral meniscus scope. A first-round draft pick back in 2013 out of Notre Dame, Jagielo was enjoying a strong 2015 campaign for Trenton prior to the injury, with an .842 OPS, nine home runs, 16 doubles and 35 RBI through 58 games. On top of that, the left-handed hitter had trimmed his strikeout rate (23.4%) in his first taste of the Double-A level, though it did come with a decreased walk rate (7.3%). Look for him to pick up where he left off at Trenton in 2016.

 

Fantasy Upside: .260+ AVG, 20-25 HR

 

5. Matt Chapman, Oakland Athletics (High-A Stockton, California League)

2015 Stats: 77 G, 340 PA, .259/.353/.587, 60 R, 23 HR, 47 XBH, 56 RBI, 11.5% BB%, 22.7% K%

 

Chapman missed the first month of the season with a knee injury but returned in early May and promptly took the California League by storm, swatting 23 home runs and 21 doubles in 77 games for High-A Stockton. Unfortunately, the 22-year-old might not have an opportunity to add to those totals before the end of the season after a wrist injury landed him back on the disabled list in early August. The right-handed hitting Chapman has always shown plenty of raw power in batting practice, but this is the first time it’s really translated consistently within games. And with Double-A on the horizon, it’s safe to say the Cal State Fullerton product is a name worth following moving forward.

 

Fantasy Upside: .260+ AVG, .330+ OBP, 20-25 HR

 

6. Colin Moran, Houston Astros (Double-A Corpus Christi, Texas League)

2015 Stats: 84 G, 365 PA, .297/.367/.455, 40 R, 8 HR, 33 XBH, 59 RBI, 10.0% BB%, 19.7% K%

 

Moran missed over a month of action earlier this season (from April 30 to May 29) with a non-displaced fracture of his jaw after he was struck by an errant pickoff attempt as he slid back into second base. It took the 22-year-old some time to find himself upon returning, but he’s been one of the hotter hitters in the minors since the beginning of July, posting a .331/.408/.547 batting line with 60 hits and 33 RBI in his last 46 games. But perhaps what’s most surprising is Moran’s second-half power surge, as all eight of his 2015 home runs (a new career-high) – as well as 11 doubles and two triples – have come in his last 206 plate appearances after he hit just 11 dingers in 849 trips to the plate to begin his career.

 

Fantasy Upside: .270+ AVG, .340+ OBP, 10-12 HR

 

7. Trey Michalczewski, Chicago White Sox (High-A Winston-Salem, Carolina League)

2015 Stats: 117 G, 488 PA, .258/.334/.394, 57 R, 7 HR, 41 XBH, 68 RBI, 9.4% BB%, 20.9% K%

 

Michalczewski enjoyed a quietly good full-season debut last year at Low-A Kannapolis, batting .262/.340/.403 with 44 extra-base hits in 116 games, but he struggled over the season’s final month following a promotion to High-A Winston-Salem. The 6’3”, 210-pound switch-hitter has fared better this season in his return to the Carolina League, showing more consistent power (36.6% XBH%) as well as a refined approach (9.4% BB%) as a younger player in an advanced league. None of Michalczewski’s tools really jump off the page at the moment, save for maybe his above-average arm strength at the hot corner, but there’s definitely a lot to like about this well-rounded 20-year-old prospect.

 

Fantasy Upside: .250+ AVG, .420+ SLG, 25+ 2B, 15+ HR

 

8. Renato Nunez, Oakland Athletics (Double-A Midland, Texas League)

2015 Stats: 82 G, 364 PA, .264/.319/.453, 52 R, 15 HR, 32 XBH, 45 RBI, 6.9% BB%, 16.2% K%

 

Nunez’s season unfortunately has been bookended by injuries – he’s been on the disabled list at Double-A Midland since early August due to a hamstring injury – but the 21-year-old put together a surprisingly solid season while healthy, putting up a .264/.319/.453 batting line with 15 home runs and 18 doubles in 82 games. Previously known for his free-swinging ways, Nunez’s refined approach this year in his first taste of the Double-A level resulted in improved strikeout (16.2%) and walk (6.9%) rates, which in turn enabled him to utilize his plus raw power more consistently.

 

Fantasy Upside: .250 AVG, 20+ HR, 20+ 2B

 

9. Jomar Reyes, Baltimore Orioles (Low-A Delmarva, South Atlantic League)

2015 Stats: 86 G, 344 PA, .277/.331/.434, 36 R, 5 HR, 36 XBH, 46 RBI, 5.5% BB%, 21.1% K%

 

Reyes was off to a promising start to his full-season debut until mid-June, when he landed on the disabled list for more than a month with a thumb sprain. The 18-year-old has rebounded well from the injury, though, batting .269/.303/.462 with three home runs, 11 doubles and 18 RBI in 27 games since returning to Low-A Delmarva. Reyes has been particularly hot of late, too, with a .385 batting average, 1.141 OPS and six extra-base hits during his current seven-game hitting streak.

 

Fantasy Upside: .270 AVG, 12-15 HR, 25+ 2B

 

10. Rio Ruiz, Atlanta Braves (Double-A Mississippi, Southern League)

2015 Stats: 115 G, 439 PA, .229/.333/.304, 40 R, 3 HR, 21 XBH, 37 RBI, 13.2% BB%, 20.3% K%

 

Ruiz enjoyed a breakthrough 2014 campaign in the hitter-friendly California League, posting an .823 OPS with 50 extra-base hits in 131 games. Yet, many scouts feared that the 21-year-old’s production, specifically his power, wouldn’t translate at the Double-A level. Unfortunately for Ruiz that’s been only part of the problem; the left-handed hitting third baseman has neither hit for average (.229) nor power (3 HR, .304 SLG), though he’s still drawing walks (13.2%) and getting on base (.333) at a respectable clip.

 

Fantasy Upside: .250 AVG, .340+ OBP, 13-15 HR

 

The Next Five (Alphabetical Order):

 

Hunter Dozier, Kansas City Royals (Double-A Northwest Arkansas, Texas League)

2015 Stats: 115 G, 473 PA, .214/.283/.354, 59 R, 11 HR, 37 XBH, 49 RBI, 8.7% BB%, 28.8% K%

 

Ryder Jones, San Francisco Giants (High-A San Jose, California League)

2015 Stats: 95 G, 392 PA, .272/.301/.405, 46 R, 6 HR, 35 XBH, 44 RBI, 3.8% BB%, 18.6% K%

 

Gavin LaValley, Cincinnati Reds (Low-A Dayton, Midwest League)

2015 Stats: 114 G, 485 PA, .270/.344/.363, 49 R, 4 HR, 31 XBH, 49 RBI, 9.3% BB%, 21.2% K%

 

Jhoan Urena, New York Mets (High-A St. Lucie, Florida State League)

2015 Stats: 69 G, 241 PA, .222/.274/.302, 19 R, 2 HR, 11 XBH, 20 RBI, 6.2% BB%, 16.6% K%

 

Drew Ward, Washington Nationals (High-A Potomac, Carolina League)

2015 Stats: 102 G, 390 PA, .246/.321/.358, 42 R, 6 HR, 26 XBH, 44 RBI, 8.7% BB%, 26.4% K%

 

Top 10 3B Prospects from 2015 Draft:

 

1. Ke’Bryan Hayes, Pittsburgh Pirates (Short Season West Virginia, New York-Penn League)

2. Tyler Nevin, Colorado Rockies (Rookie-level Grand Junction, Pioneer League)

3. Austin Riley, Atlanta Braves (Rookie-level Danville, Appalachian League)

4. Paul DeJong, St. Louis Cardinals (Low-A Peoria, Midwest League)

5. Travis Blankenhorn, Minnesota Twins (Rookie-level Elizabethton, Appalachian League)

6. Jose Vizcaino, San Francisco Giants (Short Season Salem-Keizer, Northwest League)

7. David Thompson, New York Mets (Short Season Brooklyn, New York-Penn League)

8. Xavier Turner, Texas Rangers (Low-A Hickory, South Atlantic League)

9. Trey Cabbage, Minnesota Twins (GCL Twins, Gulf Coast League)

10. Bryce Denton, St. Louis Cardinals (GCL Cardinals, Gulf Coast League)

 

Previous installments from Prospect Positional series:

 

Second Basemen (Aug. 19, 2015)

First Basemen (Aug. 12, 2015)

Outfielders (Aug. 5, 2015)

Starting Pitchers (July 29, 2015)

Catchers (July 22, 2015)

Shortstops (July 15, 2015)

Third Basemen (July 8, 2015)

 

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*All stats reflect games through August 24.