2019 Top 40 Fantasy Third Base Prospects
Strong arms and big power predominate at third base. Lacking enough range for shortstop, third base prospects linger on the edge of the defensive spectrum. One false step and a third base prospect moves to first base or a corner outfield position. Nonetheless, third base prospects are often extremely valuable fantasy contributors.
The prospect rankings schedule and a guide to fantasy tool grades can be found here. In addition, to see where the third base prospects below fall in the overall rankings, you can obtain access to the updated Top 600 Dynasty League Players with a small donation.
Before delving into the rankings, the following prospects currently receive the majority of playing time at another position, and, as such, are on previous or upcoming lists: Nick Senzel, Cincinnati Reds (2B); Brendan Rodgers, Colorado Rockies (SS); Esteury Ruiz, San Diego Padres (2B); Kevin Smith, Toronto Blue Jays (SS); Luis Garcia, Washington Nationals (SS); Jordan Groshans, Toronto Blue Jays (SS); Isaac Paredes, Detroit Tigers (SS); Tyler Nevin, Colorado Rockies (1B); Rylan Bannon, Baltimore Orioles (2B). To see where these prospects would rank among second base prospects, scroll to the bottom of the article.
Top 40 Fantasy Third Base Prospects
|Rank||Player||Primary Position||Secondary Position||Age||2018 Level||ETA|
|1||Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. TOR||3B||-||20.03||GCL, A+, AA, AAA||2019|
|2||Austin Riley ATL||3B||-||21.99||GCL, AA, AAA||2019|
|3||Nolan Gorman STL||3B||-||18.88||APP, A||2021|
|4||Alec Bohm PHI||3B||-||22.65||GCL, NYP||2020|
|5||Ryan Mountcastle BAL||3B||-||22.11||AA||2019|
|6||Jonathan India CIN||3B||SS||22.29||APP, PIO, A||2020|
|7||Colton Welker COL||3B||1B||21.47||A+||2020|
|8||Michael Chavis BOS||3B||1B||23.63||NYP, AA, AAA||2019|
|9||Elehuris Montero STL||3B||-||20.61||A, A+||2021|
|10||Ke'Bryan Hayes PIT||3B||-||22.17||AA||2019|
|11||Nolan Jones CLE||3B||-||20.89||A, A+||2021|
|12||Edwin Rios LAD||3B||1B/OF||24.94||AAA||2019|
|13||Triston Casas BOS||3B||1B||19.20||GCL||2022|
|14||Bobby Dalbec BOS||3B||-||23.75||A+, AA||2020|
|15||Hudson Potts SD||3B||1B||20.42||A+, AA||2020|
|16||Mark Vientos NYM||3B||-||19.30||APP||2022|
|17||Malcom Nunez STL||3B||1B||18.05||DSL||2023|
|18||Kevin Maitan LAA||3B||SS||19.13||PIO||2022|
|19||Jake Burger CHW||3B||-||22.97||DL||2021|
|20||Miguel Vargas LAD||3B||1B||19.36||AZL, PIO, A||2022|
|21||Kevin Cron ARI||3B||1B||26.11||AAA||2019|
|22||Lucas Erceg MIL||3B||-||23.91||AA||2020|
|23||Abraham Toro HOU||3B||-||22.27||A+, AA||2020|
|24||Jean Carlos Encarnacion BAL||3B||-||21.20||A||2021|
|25||Drew Ellis ARI||3B||-||23.33||A+||2020|
|26||Jonathan Ornelas TEX||3B||SS||18.84||AZL||2022|
|27||Josh Fuentes COL||3B||1B||26.11||AAA||2019|
|28||Sherten Apostel TEX||3B||-||20.05||APP, NWL||2022|
|29||Cristian Santana LAD||3B||1B||22.09||A+||2020|
|30||Danny Diaz BOS||3B||-||18.24||DSL||2023|
|31||Jacob Gonzalez SF||3B||-||20.76||A||2021|
|32||Sheldon Neuse OAK||3B||-||24.30||AAA||2019|
|33||Jose Miranda MIN||3B||2B||20.75||A, A+||2021|
|34||Bret Boswell COL||3B||2B||24.48||A, A+||2020|
|35||Ty France SD||3B||1B||24.71||AA, AAA||2019|
|36||Will Toffey NYM||3B||-||24.24||A+, AA||2020|
|37||Kelvin Gutierrez KC||3B||-||24.58||AA||2019|
|38||Jason Vosler SD||3B||1B||25.56||AA, AAA||2019|
|39||James Nelson MIA||3B||-||21.44||A+||2020|
|40||Emmanuel Rivera KC||3B||-||22.75||AZL, A+||2020|
1. Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Toronto Blue Jays
Professional baseball is in Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s blood. His namesake, and father, was the 2004 American League Most Valuable Player, a nine-time All-Star, and, now, a Hall of Famer. Vlad Jr.’s uncle, Wilton Guerrero, played for the Montreal Expos. His cousins, Gabby Guerrero and Gregory Guerrero, are fellow prospects. Rumor has it Vlad Jr. is also pretty good.
The Blue Jays signed Vlad Jr. for $3.9 million in 2015. Since then, he has gotten better and better, hitting at each stop, with a career .331/.414/.529 batting line. This year, at just 19 years old, Vlad Jr. laid waste to difficult Double-A Eastern League, hitting .402/.449/.671 over 61 games. For context, his performance (203 wRC+) was the best league performance since 2006 (24-year-old Kevin Kouzmanoff). Only a mid-season left knee injury could slow him down. In late July, the Blue Jays promoted Vlad Jr. to Triple-A International League, where he similarly dominated (.336/.414/.564) as by far the youngest player in the league. Ultimately, he did not receive a late season promotion to the majors, likely in anticipation of a mid-April 2019 debut, similar to Ronald Acuña Jr.
Like Acuña Jr. and Juan Soto, Vlad Jr. possesses otherworldly talent and skills beyond his years. Of the three, he arguably has the most offensive upside. At the plate, Vlad. Jr. is the whole package, with exceptional plate discipline, bat-to-ball skills, and bat speed. In fact, his elite hit tool earns numerous unheard-of future 80 grades. Further, Vlad Jr. oozes 80-grade raw power, which he taps into in games more and more each year. Conceivably, he could develop into an 80-hit and 80-power bat; the type of hitter you only see in video games. A reasonable ideal outcome for Vlad Jr. is a similar career to Miguel Cabrera. For next year, Steamer is already projecting him to lead the majors in batting average (.306/.368/.511)! In dynasty leagues, he is a top-20, maybe even top-10, asset.
Peak Projection: .325/.400/.600, 40-45 home runs
2. Austin Riley, Atlanta Braves
Prior to the 2015 Draft, Austin Riley was a highly-regarded two-way player, with teams considering him as a hitter or a pitcher. Most teams believed he had more upside as a hitter, including the Braves, who selected him 41st overall. The decision to focus on hitting proved to be correct. Just three years later, he is on the cusp of the majors at just 21 years old.
This past year, Riley returned to Double-A, making quick work of the level (.333/.394/.677). The Braves saw enough, and, in typical Braves fashion, aggressively promoted the 21-year-old to Triple-A. Meanwhile, in the majors, the Braves were desperate at third base, even resorting to out-of-position 37-year-old Jose Bautista for twelve games in May. As such, many thought Riley could even receive a promotion to the majors over the summer. However, he initially struggled in Triple-A, missing a month due to a knee injury and hitting just .267/.342/.385 with 65 strikeouts (29.1%) through early August. Fortunately, he strongly rebounded over the last 25 games, slashing .313/.347/.625 with 8 home runs. With Johan Camargo playing well at third base, Riley did not receive a late season promotion.
A strong, 6’3” and 220 pounds, Riley generates double-plus raw power and tons of hard contact (17.9% HR/FB and 26.4% line drives). His ability to actually make contact, on the other hand, remains questionable. Although he reduced his strikeout rate to 22.9% last year, it jumped back up to 28.4% this year, including a 14.7% swinging strike rate in Triple-A. In addition, Riley remains pull-heavy (∼50%). Regardless, his performance at just 21 years old was impressive, and he should debut next year, though possibly in the outfield following the signing of Josh Donaldson.
Peak Projection: .260/.320/.485, 30-35 home runs
3. Nolan Gorman, St. Louis Cardinals
Entering the year, Nolan Gorman was a favorite to be a top-5 pick in the 2018 Draft. An uneven spring drew questions regarding his hit tool and defensive home. As such, he fell to 19th overall. After he signed, the Cardinals aggressively assigned him to the Appalachian League. Quickly, Gorman took to professional baseball, including a 6-game stretch from late June to early July in which he blasted 7 home runs. Having found little resistance in the Appalachian League (.350/.443/.664), he received another aggressive promotion to Low-A in late July. As the season drew to a close, however, Gorman struggled (4-for-41 with 16 strikeouts), likely due to fatigue. Even with his late season struggles, he posted a .223 isolated slugging percentage in Low-A. In the last 13 years, only Fernando Tatis Jr. hit for as much power at 18 years old in the pitcher-friendly Midwest League.
Huge, 70-grade raw power is Gorman’s calling card, and he knows it. Indeed, he is a repeat home run derby champion among elite high school hitters. With an uppercut swing, he creates plenty of loft, hitting tons of fly balls (52.6%) and home runs. Notably, Gorman quelled some doubts regarding his hit tool, showing progress with pitch recognition and handling offspeed pitches. With that said, he still suffered significant swing-and-miss late in the season (36.4% strikeouts and 18.9% swinging strikes in Low-A). Whether his hit tool continues to develop will determine his ultimate offensive ceiling. For now, there is a lot of reason for restrained optimism. On the other hand, his poor defense (21 errors in debut) may force a move to first base in the future. Fortunately, his bat should play anywhere in the field.
Peak Projection: .265/.345/.520, 35-40 home runs
4. Alec Bohm, Philadelphia Phillies
While Nolan Gorman had a wildly successful debut, Alec Bohm, the third overall pick in the 2018 Draft, did not. Between three levels, he tallied 0 home runs over 158 plate appearances with a 57.3% ground ball rate. Further, he missed a month with a shin contusion. As a polished college bat, his performance was extremely disappointing. With that said, it was the end of a long season, and only a small, 40-game sample.
In college, Bohm formed Wichita State’s Bash Brothers 2.0 with Greyson Jenista, a second round pick of the Braves. A well-built 6’5″ slugger, he possesses 70-grade raw power. In addition to the power, he is an all-around hitter, with solid plate discipline and a refined approach. Indeed, between college and his debut, Bohm had a stellar 51-to-51 strikeout-to-walk ratio (12%). Further, he has an excellent track record with wooden bats, hitting .351/.399/.513 in the Cape Cod League last year. Meanwhile, like Gorman, Bohm is a poor fielder, committing 9 errors in his debut and 14 errors in college (.889 fielding percentage). Despite his poor debut, he has a high ceiling and a long history of elite performance.
Peak Projection: .275/.350/.500, 30-35 home runs
5. Ryan Mountcastle, Baltimore Orioles
The Orioles selected Ryan Mountcastle at the very end of the first round of the 2015 Draft. Initially drafted as a shortstop, he has since transitioned fully to third base. There, Mountcastle remains a below-average defender with poor range and arm strength. As such, many ultimately project him to move to left field. Regardless where he ends up in the field, his bat should carry him.
This year, Mountcastle returned to Double-A Eastern League, after hitting just .222/.239/.366 with a 35-to-3 strikeout-to-walk ratio there last year. A hairline fracture in his right hand suffered during spring training delayed the start of his season by a month. Upon his return, however, Mountcastle was excellent. Notably, his walk rate nearly doubled, from 3.2% in 2017 to 6.1% this year. Despite this progress, he remains extremely aggressive with some swing-and-miss (14.7% swinging strikes), and will need to continue refine his plate discipline. Nevertheless, Mountcastle possesses plenty of offensive upside, with plus bat speed and raw power projection. At just 22 years old, he should spend most of the season in Triple-A, but his path to the majors is wide open on a rebuilding Orioles club.
Peak Projection: .280/.320/.470, 25-30 home runs
6. Jonathan India, Cincinnati Reds
To say Jonathan India broke out this year is an understatement. After leading the Southeastern Conference in nearly every offensive category (.350/.497/.717), he elevated his draft status from a mid-Day 2 pick (Rounds 3-10) all the way to fifth overall. The statistical performance is no fluke, either. India exhibits superb plate discipline and pitch selection with above-average raw power. In his debut, he showcased all his tools, displaying patience (15.2% walk rate), power (.193 ISO and 14% HR/FB), and some speed (6 stolen bases). Meanwhile, he possesses enough defensive chops and athleticism to play passably at shortstop, and saw some time there in his debut.
On the downside, India does not possess a standout tool, with nearly every tool earning future grades of 50 or 55. In addition, his approach does lead to some swing-and-miss, and he was pull-happy in his debut (52%). However, his elite performance in the most difficult college conference engenders plenty of optimism. As an advanced college hitter, India carries far less risk than his contemporaries. At his best, he showcases above-average tools across the board, with a high floor, but lower ceiling.
Peak Projection: .275/.365/.460, 20-25 home runs, 10-15 stolen bases
7. Colton Welker, Colorado Rockies
Ever since the Rockies drafted Colton Welker in the fourth round in 2016, he has hit a ton. Indeed, he is a career .337/.384/.492 hitter! During the second half, he was nearly unstoppable with only 3 hitless games over his last 49 (.376/.404/.533). With that said, Welker has benefited from hitter-friendly environments, including High-A California League. Further, he hit .376/.419/.572 in the swirling winds of Lancaster, and his team slashed .282/.350/.453 on the year. As such, his performance must be taken within the context of his home park and league.
Regardless of hitting environments, Welker is a tremendous hitter. With plus bat speed and exceptional barrel control, he consistently makes hard contact (26.4% line drives) and hits for power to any part of the park. Although his power has yet to truly manifest in games, he possesses plus raw power, and many observers believe he will develop above-average game power in time. While few question his ability at the plate, most question his ability in the field. Welker is a poor athlete with below-average range, and he is already receiving some playing time at first base.
Peak Projection: .285/.335/.480, 25-30 home runs
8. Michael Chavis, Boston Red Sox
A first round pick way back in 2014, Michael Chavis has slowly worked his way through the minors. In April, an 80-game suspension after testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug briefly derailed his ascension. After a slow start upon his return to Double-A in July, Chavis was dominant. During a 25-game stretch between Double- and Triple-A in August, he hit .419/.481/.699 with 6 home runs! Now, he is on the cusp of the majors, having finally arrived at Triple-A and, most recently, the 40-man roster.
Stocky and strong, Chavis has massive raw power. His plus bat speed generates a lot of hard, loud contact, including 23.5% line drives and 23.7% home run-to-fly ball ratio. Unfortunately, concerns remain regarding his ability to consistently make contact, as he continues to struggle with swing-and-miss (27.1% strikeouts). Further, Chavis is a below-average athlete and defender, without the size (5’10”) for first base to be a realistic fallback option. Although most observers believe he will provide serviceable defense at third base, his destiny may be as the dreaded designated hitter.
Peak Projection: .250/.310/.475, 30-35 home runs
9. Elehuris Montero, St. Louis Cardinals
The Cardinals signed Elehuris Montero for $300,000 in 2014 on the basis of his huge power potential. Not until this year, however, did he make his full-season debut. At just 19 years old, he was one of the top performers in the Midwest League (.322/.381/.529). In August, Montero earned a promotion to the difficult High-A Florida State League, where he held his own (.286/.330/.408). Despite suppressed power numbers upon promotion, his promised power is beginning to arrive. Indeed, Montero flashes plus raw power, which plays mostly to the pull-side. Additionally, he is an all-fields, line drive machine (24.7%). Still very young, he is a bit aggressive, and suffers plenty of swing-and-miss (15% swinging strikes). Further, in the field, he is below-average and error-prone (28 errors), with poor athleticism and mobility, and he likely eventually moves to first base. Nonetheless, Montero has a potent, high-upside bat, and could even top this list as soon as next year.
Peak Projection: .270/.325/.480, 25-30 home runs
10. Ke'Bryan Hayes, Pittsburgh Pirates
Ke’Bryan Hayes hopes to follow in the footsteps of his father, former major league third baseman Charlie Hayes. A first round pick in the 2015 Draft, he is climbing through the minors one level at a time. His most recent stop was Double-A Eastern League, where he excelled. A disciplined, high-contact hitter, Hayes uses the entire field with excellent bat-to-ball skill. This year, he started added some pop to his offensive game, knocking 45 extra-base hits (.151 ISO). Without much raw power, however, he pounds the gaps instead of lifting the ball over-the-fence. Hayes also has above-average speed and good instincts, allowing him to swipe double-digits bags year-to-year. Despite a modest offensive profile, he is a high-floor prospect due to his excellent, well-regarded defense.
Peak Projection: .280/.350/.415, 10-15 home runs, 10-15 stolen bases
11. Nolan Jones, Cleveland Indians
Nolan Jones fell to the Indians in the second round of the 2016 Draft, receiving a huge, over-slot $2.25 million signing bonus. Thus far, it appears to be money well spent. This year, he was a top performer in both Low-A Midwest and High-A Carolina Leagues. A patient, disciplined hitter, Jones consistently accrues tons of walks (17.1%) and strikeouts (25.2%), despite reasonable swing-and-miss (10% swinging strikes). Further, he continues to hit for big power to all fields. In fact, Jones hit the majority of his home runs to the opposite field. Moving forward, the main concerns are struggles against left-handed pitching (.186/.307/.299) and poor defense (27 errors). Nevertheless, Jones has enormous offensive upside with a three-true-outcome floor.
Peak Projection: .260/.350/.465, 25-30 home runs
12. Edwin Rios, Los Angeles Dodgers
An oblique injury caused Edwin Rios to miss the first six weeks of the season. Once healthy, he returned to Triple-A and remained there all year. Overall, he performed well, despite significant struggles with swing-and-miss (32.3% strikeouts and 16.8% swinging strikes). Rios is an aggressive hitter with suspect plate discipline, which more advanced arms fully exploited. Even so, his plus bat speed, 70-grade raw power, and solid bat-to-ball ability allowed him to continually maintain high batting averages. In the field, Rios is well below-average, splitting time between third base, first base, and left field. Meanwhile, a crowded Dodgers roster limits his short-term opportunities. On the 40-man roster, Rios should debut at some point this year. When he does, he could surprise with some loud performances. Just imagine a future Dodgers’ lineup with Edwin Rios (0:53), Cody Bellinger (0:58), and Alex Verdugo (1:01)!
Peak Projection: .255/.305/.455, 25-30 home runs
13. Triston Casas, Boston Red Sox
A hulking 6’4″ and 238 pounds, Triston Casas understandably has gigantic power. In fact, several observers even assign a future 80-grade to his raw power. The Red Sox refused to pass on the power, drafting him 26th overall in the 2018 Draft. Unfortunately, his debut lasted just two games before he underwent surgery to repair the ulnar collateral ligament in his right thumb. When healthy, Casas is not just a power hitter, with a patient approach and advanced plate discipline. Although he played third base this year and has a strong arm, his size almost certainly will relegate him to first base in the future. Regardless where he ends up, Casas has huge upside as a premier power hitter.
Peak Projection: .265/.340/.495, 30-35 home runs
14. Bobby Dalbec, Boston Red Sox
Bobby Dalbec gained a lot of fantasy attention after an explosive 2016 debut in the New York-Penn League (.386/.427/.674). What many forgot were the strikeouts. Well, since then, he reminded everyone of his history with strikeouts, including 132 in 2017 (36.6%), 176 this year (32.4%), and 32 in the Arizona Fall League (36.4%). When he makes contact, however, it is hard (25.4% line drives) or lofted (45.6% fly balls), and often over-the-fence (24.8% HR/FB). With power, walks, and strikeouts, Dalbec has all the makings of a prototypical three-true-outcomes slugger.
Peak Projection: .235/.310/.460, 30-35 home runs
15. Hudson Potts, San Diego Padres
The Padres drafted Hudson Potts in the first round of the 2016 Draft, and have since aggressively assigned and promoted him. This year, he spent most of the year in High-A California League, where he impressed (.281/.350/.498). In mid-August, the Padres promoted him to Double-A. When he arrived in the Texas League, only teammates Fernando Tatis Jr. and Andres Munoz were younger. Potts is not Tatis Jr., and he understandably struggled in his brief 22 game run (.154/.258/.231). At just 19 years old, he can be forgiven for his poor performance. Nevertheless, Potts had a solid season, flashing above-average raw power and improved plate discipline.
Peak Projection: .250/.315/.450, 25-30 home runs
16. Mark Vientos, New York Mets
Mark Vientos, an over-slot second round pick, was one of the youngest players in the 2017 Draft. Due to his youth, he has yet to reach full-season ball. This year, the Mets held him back in Extended Spring Training before assigning him to the Appalachian League. There, Vientos exhibited exceptional plate discipline and patience (14.1 BB%), and power (17.5% HR/FB), and an all-fields approach. In addition, he shows promise at third base, with good hands and a strong arm. Vientos also has a highly projectable 6’4″ frame, leading optimistic observers to envision plus raw power.
Peak Projection: .260/.340/.455, 25-30 home runs
17. Malcom Nunez, St. Louis Cardinals
The Cardinals signed Malcom Nunez for just $300,000 this past summer, then immediately assigned him to the Dominican Summer League. A man among boys, he completely obliterated the DSL with arguably the best performance in recent memory (238 wRC+). Of course, the competition level in the DSL is nearly equivalent to a highly competitive high school circuit. Further, Nunez is a mature and fully developed slugger. As such, while his performance was incredible, temper expectations. With that said . . . man, that performance! By all accounts, Nunez has plus bat speed and raw power, generating big exit velocities. In addition, he has a long track record of stellar international performance, exhibiting a feel to hit with strong plate discipline. There is a lot of risk to his profile, but the upside is pretty high. Fantasy owners should consider drafting Nunez as early as the second round in upcoming prospect drafts.
Peak Projection: .275/.345/.485, 25-30 home runs
18. Kevin Maitan, Los Angeles Angels
A long-time favorite of international scouts, Kevin Maitan signed with the Atlanta Braves in 2016 for $4.25 million. Unfortunately, he did not live up to his immense hype in his debut, arriving overweight and hitting just .241/.290/.340. Following the season, he became a free agent, as part of MLB’s punishment of the Braves for violating international signing rules, and the Angels signed him for $2.2 million. In his first year with the Angels, Maitan again underwhelmed, this time in the Pioneer League (.248/.308/.397). Given his struggles and weight issues, opinion of his ability and upside has rightfully lessened. Regardless, Maitan only turns 19 years old in February, and still possesses huge raw power (16% HR/FB) and plus bat speed.
Peak Projection: .245/.300/.450, 25-30 home runs
19. Jake Burger, Chicago White Sox
Jake Burger’s Achilles heel is his Achilles heel. In late February, he ruptured his Achilles tendon, and, ten weeks later, re-tore it while walking in his backyard. Consequently, he missed the entire season, and likely will miss the first half of next season. Further, there is a real risk he will lose mobility, and, prior to the injury, he was already a bad-body athlete likely to eventually move to first base. If Burger returns to form, he is a dangerous hitter with prodigious power. Between his sophomore and junior years, he launched 43 home runs. While, in his debut, he limited strikeouts (13.8%) and drew praise for his defense.
Peak Projection: .265/.335/.470, 25-30 home runs
20. Miguel Vargas, Los Angeles Dodgers
This year, Miguel Vargas made his professional debut after signing with the Dodgers for $300,000 in 2017. A pure hitter, he made quick work of the Gulf Coast (.419/.514/.581) and Pioneer Leagues (.394/.447/.596). Although he struggled in the Midwest League (.213/.307/.253), he turned a lot of heads with his overall performance. Notably, Vargas exhibits an advanced, all-fields approach and outstanding plate discipline. In addition, he projects to develop solid power, though he lacks much game power at the moment.
Peak Projection: .285/.355/.440, 15-20 home runs
The Best of the Rest
2019 Third Base Prospect Sleepers
The following prospects may rise significantly with strong showings in 2019. Each has immense upside, but each is also years away from the majors.
Juan Carlos Encarnacion, Baltimore Orioles. The Orioles acquired Jean Carlos Encarnacion as the centerpiece from the Braves at the trade deadline for Kevin Gausman. A raw, projectable hitter, he has plus bat speed and power potential. However, he has an extremely unrefined, overly aggressive approach resulting in lot of swing-and-miss (19.6% swinging strikes).
Sherten Apostel, Texas Rangers. Another trade deadline acquisition, Apostel was the player-to-be-named-later in the Keone Kela trade with the Pirates. A large 6’4″ slugger, he projects to plus raw power. Further, Apostel displays an all-fields, patient approach (18.3%). Ultimately, he profiles as a three-true-outcomes hitter.
Danny Diaz, Boston Red Sox. The Red Sox signed Diaz for $1.6 million during the 2017 international signing period. During his debut in the Dominican Summer League, he flashed some serious power (.238 ISO) before breaking the hamate bone in his left hand. Only 17 years old, Diaz has huge upside, with some projecting him to hit and hit for power.
Jose Miranda, Minnesota Twins. Despite draft pedigree (second round competitive balance selection in 2016), Miranda remains under-the-radar. This year, he quietly had a solid season, hitting 16 home runs while limiting strikeouts (11.2%). Meanwhile, he split time almost evenly between third and second base.
Close to the Show: 40-Man Roster Third Base Prospects
Expect several of the following players to see time in the majors this year. Injuries or under-performance at the major league level could elevate several to starting jobs.
Kevin Cron, Arizona Diamondbacks. The younger brother of C.J. Cron, Kevin is a very similar player. A massive 6’5″ and 245 pounds, he understandably has big raw power, often earning plus grades. Further, he is a solid, steady hitter (.309/.368/.554), and he has made a lot of progress utilizing the whole field. A fly ball-heavy approach (47.3%) likely will limit his batting average, but should allow him to tap into a lot of his raw power (15.7% HR/FB). Recently, the Diamondbacks added him to the 40-man roster. Should the Diamondbacks trade Paul Goldschmidt, Cron likely would be the primary benefactor.
Josh Fuentes, Colorado Rockies. Once an undrafted free agent, Fuentes is now on the Rockies’ 40-man roster. He has earned it! This year, he was the MVP of the Pacific Coast League (.327/.354/.517), and he has hit over .300 in each of the last three seasons. With superb bat-to-ball skills, Fuentes makes tons of contact, employing a line drive, all-fields approach. Since he is overly aggressive (3.6% BB%) and has below-average power, however, he only profiles as a solid utility infielder.
Ty France, San Diego Padres. Another pleasant underdog story, France is a former 34th round pick. Repeating Double-A this year, he experienced a power breakout (.263/.349/.448), which continued upon his promotion to Triple-A (.287/.382/.532). His newfound game power along with strong plate discipline make him a dark horse to hit his way into meaningful playing time should the Padres trade Wil Myers.
Kelvin Gutierrez, Kansas City Royals. The Royals acquired Gutierrez from the Nationals in the Kelvin Herrera trade. He is a solid average hitter with borderline-average raw power, which plays down even further in games due to a ground ball-heavy approach (49.4%).
Close to the Show: Upper Minors Third Base Prospects
The upper minors is the doorstep to the majors. These prospects are on the cusp of a debut, possibly as soon as next year.
Lucas Erceg, Milwaukee Brewers. A second round pick in the 2016 Draft, Erceg spent the entire year in Double-A. There, as always in his brief career, he was incredibly streaky. In fact, most of his production came during a 34-game stretch in June and July (.338/.383/.585 with 8 home runs). When Erceg is on, he is an impact bat with exciting upside, including above-average raw power, a natural feel to hit, and a strong arm.
Abraham Toro, Houston Astros. With a huge performance in the Arizona Fall League (.348/.463/.561), Toro capped a stellar campaign. Between High- and Double-A, he knocked 54 extra-base hits (.188 ISO) with a 11.1% walk rate. A fly ball hitter (47.1%), he already makes the most of his average raw power. However, Toro has drawn plus grades for his future hit tool, while already demonstrating advanced plate discipline and a feel to hit.
Sheldon Neuse, Oakland Athletics. A breakout 2017 performance (.321/.382/.502) and a strong Spring Training elevated Neuse on prospect lists. Then, the Athletics aggressively assigned him to Triple-A, placing him on the cusp of a potential promotion. Unfortunately, Neuse had a disastrous start to the season, hitting just .192/.249/.244 with 0 home runs and 89 strikeouts (38.2%) over his first 61 games. Thereafter, he rebounded (.321/.356/.418 after the All-Star break), somewhat salvaging his season and providing some reason for hope.
Jason Vosler, San Diego Padres. Due to the 40-man roster crunch, the Cubs dealt Vosler to the Padres. He is an aggressive, pull-heavy hitter with average power and defensive versatility. At the major league level, he profiles as a utility infielder and potential short-side platoon bat.
Close to the Show: High-A Third Base Prospects
The road for prospects is long and winding. These prospects are one step closer, already reaching High-A.
Cristian Santana, Los Angeles Dodgers. The Dodgers did not add Cristian Santana to the 40-man roster. As such, he is eligible for the upcoming Rule 5 Draft. It is unclear whether a team will select him as he remains raw offensively and defensively. However, Santana tantalizes with plus bat speed and plus, all-fields raw power (17.8% HR/FB). A free swinger, he has a hyper-aggressive approach, rarely walking (3.4%) and suffering plenty of swing-and-miss (15.8% swinging strikes).
Bret Boswell, Colorado Rockies. Between Low- and High-A, Boswell mashed, hitting .296/.345/.529 with 27 home runs. Although he benefited from the hitter-friendly confines of Asheville and Lancaster, he still performed well in away games. As such, the power appears legitimate (.180 ISO away). With that said, Boswell was old for each level (23 years old) and suffered a lot of swing-and-miss, including 30.4% strikeouts and 18.9% swinging strikes in High-A.
James Nelson, Miami Marlins. This year was a lost season for Nelson, undergoing meniscus surgery in Spring Training, missing half the season, and struggling upon return (.211/.262/.280). The raw ingredients remain for an impact bat, as he has plus bat speed, a feel for hitting, and developing power as he fills out his athletic 6’2” frame.
Emmanuel Rivera, Kansas City Royals. In High-A Carolina League, Rivera had another strong season (.280/.333/.427), nearly duplicating his performance last yer during the second half (.303/.361/.465). He is a disciplined, but aggressive, hitter with budding power. Strong armed and agile, he is also a strong defender. Whether his power develops enough to play at the major league level will determine his ultimate role.
2017 & 2018 Draft Third Base Prospects
The 2017 and 2018 Amateur Drafts included many intriguing third base prospects, from raw high school teenagers to seasoned college bats. Here are the most interesting options.
Drew Ellis, Arizona Diamondbacks. The college teammate of Brendan McKay, and selected 40 picks later in the 2017 Draft, Ellis is a similarly solid hitter. A strong 6’3” and 210 pounds, he has above-average raw power, which has yet to truly manifest in games despite a leveraged swing (49.9% fly balls). Additionally, he has solid plate discipline, despite some swing-and-miss.
Jonathan Ornelas, Texas Rangers. A third round pick in the 2018 Draft, Ornelas had a successful debut in the Arizona League (.302/.389/.459). Notably, he displayed advanced plate discipline, some pop, and some speed. Overall, his offensive tools all project to average, while he also has defensive versatility and a strong arm.
Jacob Gonzalez, San Francisco Giants. The son of five-time All-Star Luis Gonzalez, Jacob possesses many of the same attributes as his father. Drafted in the second round in 2017 out of high school, he remains extremely raw, and struggled in his full-season debut (.227/.296/.331). However, he oozes upside with plus (or better) raw power projection and a promising hit tool.
Will Toffey, New York Mets. Selected by the Athletics in the fourth round of the 2017 Draft, Toffey already changed organizations in the Jeurys Familia trade. A very patient hitter, he consistently tallies high walk totals (16.3%). Further, he is beginning to flash borderline-average power.
Elsewhere-Eligible Third Base Prospects
Likely destined for third base but currently playing another position, these notable prospects are on previous or upcoming lists. This is where they rank as third base prospects:
Nick Senzel, Cincinnati Reds (2B): between Guerrero Jr. and Riley
Brendan Rodgers, Colorado Rockies (SS): between Guerrero Jr. and Riley, behind Senzel
Esteury Ruiz, San Diego Padres (2B): between Welker and Chavis
Luis Garcia, Washington Nationals (SS): between Chavis and Montero
Kevin Smith, Toronto Blue Jays (SS): between Chavis and Montero, behind Garcia
Jordan Groshans, Toronto Blue Jays (SS): between Montero and Hayes
Isaac Paredes, Detroit Tigers (SS): between Jones and Rios
Tyler Nevin, Colorado Rockies (1B): between Vientos and Nunez
Rylan Bannon, Baltimore Orioles (2B): between Vargas and Cron