Arguably the deepest position in the majors, third-base prospects have a high bar to reach to break into the fantasy realm. Nolan Arenado, Vlad Guerrero Jr., Alex Bregman, Anthony Rendon, Matt Chapman, Kris Bryant, Yoan Moncada, Rafael Devers, Eugenio Suarez, the list goes on and on. Thankfully, there are still some prospects I think can be impact bats, whether it be next year or in future years. Here are my personal top 10 third-base prospects!
1. Alex Bohm – Philadelphia Phillies
Highest Level: AA
Alec Bohm enters 2020 with the potential to earn the third-base job in Philadelphia and run with it. Scott Kingery is currently the only player standing in his way and Kingery has proven he can play a multi-position role before. Not only that, but Kingery’s strikeout tendencies enable him to have prolonged slumps and could give Bohm a chance.
Bohm features a stellar hit tool, quick bat speed with power that seems to be geared towards an all-fields approach and making good contact, showcasing this last year. He hit a .269/.344/.500 slash line and 14 home runs in just 63 games. One thing we do have to keep in mind is he played mostly in Reading Park, a notoriously hitter-friendly park last year. It’s possible the power numbers take a bit of a hit at first but the power is there. Citizens Park is also power-friendly to RHHs and Bohm is sure to take advantage of that. While his numbers may have been inflated last year, his strikeout rate was a stellar 14% (along with a 10.9% walk rate) showcasing his ability to make contact and plate discipline. His defensive home is a question scouts have as he’s not great defensively at third but will be given every chance to play there, with first base as a fallback option in the future. Bohm is destined to be a middle-of-the-order bat and if it’s not in 2020, it will certainly be in 2021.
2. Nolan Jones – Cleveland Indians
Highest Level: AA
Like Bohm, Nolan Jones has a chance to play a role in 2020 for the Cleveland Indians. Unlike Bohm, however, there’s a pretty good third baseman ahead of him and because of this is more than likely a 2021 impact bat. IF a season is played in 2020, he could be on an expanded roster and could get a chance to show he deserves to stay up.
While Bohm may be an all-around good hitter, Jones is in the mold of a “three true outcomes” slugger (with monster raw power). Jones’s strongest ability is his plate discipline, which will obviously play up more in OBP and points leagues. While his walk rate and strikeout rate went in opposite directions for the worse last year once he got to AA, he has proven that he’s got a discerning eye. He didn’t hit lefties that well last year (and for his minor-league career for that matter) but he still showed an 18.4% walk rate which will help him be passable versus them. If he can translate his raw power into more game power (114 MPH max exit velocity was tied 3rd overall on THE BOARD) he could be a home run threat every time he steps to the plate.
3. Nolan Gorman – St Louis Cardinals
Highest Level: A+
Nolan Gorman may have the most raw power on this list and was able to tap into it during games as a teenager. Not looking too out of place at any minor-league stop so far, strikeouts are the only glaring concern within Gorman’s profile. Between A and High-A Gorman featured a 30% strikeout rate, which is hard to swallow but Gorman has shown a willingness to adjust (97 wRC+ in his first stint in A-ball, 128 wRC+ next year). He did get a little pull happy in AA and was popping up too much, but chalk it up to being 19 in AA. Strikeouts could plague Gorman for his career but as Miguel Sano shows, you can be fantasy relevant and still push the limit with strikeouts. And as crazy as it is to say, Gorman might have that type of power.
4. Ryan Mountcastle – Baltimore Orioles
Highest Level: AAA
While he’s probably only going to have third-base eligibility for 2020 (or whenever baseball is played next), Ryan Mountcastle is a very interesting fantasy option. His ability to make contact is elite and is able to hit for power to all fields. His major downside? He never ever walks. His 4.5% walk rate in AAA last year would have placed him 9th lowest in the majors, below walking experts Danny Santana, Javier Baez and Amed Rosario. Thankfully, his home park of Camden Yards was 1st in RHH Pull HR/Brl percentage and RHH Park Factor, giving him arguably the best park (other than Coors) to call home. This is a risky profile, and one I normally don’t rank too highly, but the allure of 30+ home runs with a decent batting average is too much to ignore as long as he keeps hitting. Just be aware the profile could collapse at any time if he gets exploited too often in the majors.
5. John Jung – Texas Rangers
Highest Level: A
The next heir to the Texas Rangers third-base throne, Josh Jung will more than likely never be able to fill the shoes of Adrian Beltre but he can sure hit. Arguably the best Texas Tech player in their history (sorry Kelby Tomlinson), Jung was snagged 8th overall by the Rangers last year as a polished hitter that should move quickly. He played the last half-season with Texas Tech at shortstop but will more than likely stick at third.
He proved that to be true, making it to Low-A and hitting .289/.363/.389. His power wasn’t there last year, as he had difficulties pulling the ball for power thanks to a mechanically odd swing. He more than likely will require a swing-change to unlock this power but with his current swing is able to hit the ball to all fields (with a lot of opposite-field hits, 42.3% last year). With decent plate discipline he at worst is a high-average, low-to-mid-teens power bat in the majors. We all hope he unlocks the power potential we know he has though.
6. Ke’Bryan Hayes – Pittsburgh Pirates
Highest Level: AAA
Ke’Bryan Hayes may be getting to the point of prospect fatigue for some fantasy players but don’t fall into this trap. Hayes has a very good chance to make his MLB debut this year thanks to not having anyone of note ahead of him on the depth chart (sorry not sorry Colin Moran). Moran has been mediocre the last two years now and his leash has to be coming up short with Hayes nipping at his heels. While the bat hasn’t made the jump many expected, he’s still got the potential to be an impact bat.
Hayes’ best offensive asset right now is his ability to make hard contact. Unfortunately, it tends to go into the ground more often than not, sporting a 46.4% groundball rate last year in AAA. His eye is a plus as well, never having a strikeout rate above 19% and a walk rate close to 10%. His slash line last year in AAA was underwhelming, with a .262/.336/.415 with a 92 wRC+, which has to improve if he’s going to become fantasy relevant. I’m willing to gamble on the bat making the improvements needed and buy on the cheap.
7. Isaac Paredes – Detroit Tigers
Highest Level: AA
Isaac Paredes seems to be the forgotten fantasy asset in the Detroit Tigers system. With all the high-end pitching prospects shooting up lists, he might just be undervalued now. While he strictly stayed at AA, he showed he’s still got the tools to be a top 100 fantasy guy even if he isn’t going to be a shortstop like once thought.
Paredes showed a stellar eye last year (I have a type) with a 10.3% walk rate and 11.1% strikeout rate. His bat-to-ball skills are sublime, with a .291 average in 166 Double-A games. While his power hasn’t flashed higher than average, he still should reach mid-teens homer power with a ton of extra-base hits. We have to remember he was just 20 last year and could see power-growth with more experience. More of a guy in points leagues and OBP leagues, the easy comp I’ve read is Jhonny Peralta with a bit better of an eye. While I’m wary of hitters in Comerica Park, Paredes more than likely wouldn’t be hindered by the homerun suppression too much anyways.
8. Sherten Apostel – Texas Rangers
Highest Level: A+
Raw power and strikeouts is currently the Sherten Apostel experience. While the hope is he can minimize the strikeout damage and refine his hit-tool, a three outcome slugger is a likely outcome and still valuable fantasy option. He’s already a bigger fellow and a move to first base could be in his future, especially with Josh Jung around.
Apostel is a very smart hitter, waiting for the perfect pitch to attack or taking early hacks at pitches he likes. His high strikeout totals can be attributed partially to taking so many pitches during an at-bat but this isn’t a bad thing. While his groundball rate was higher than you’d like for someone with his profile, he’s shown he can hit to all-fields for power and it’s just a matter of tapping into that power more often in games. He hopefully will reach AA this year and after that could be up at any time, with enough progression. A rawer prospect than the rest of the players on this list, I think he’s got top 5 prospect potential.
9. Mark Vientos – New York Mets
Highest Level: A
While his strikeout and walk rates went in opposite negative directions in 2019, Mark Vientos still had an above-average slash line as a teenager in A-Ball. His biggest asset is his massive power but questions about his future position and hit tool knock him down the list a bit despite the potential.
Like most young hitters his groundball rate is too high but with work should get that down. When he connects on a baseball though it flies out of the park, showcased by him posting some of the highest exit velocities in the minors. He and Brett Baty are very similar but (amazingly) Vientos is younger than Baty who was drafted a year later. He’s going to have to improve his plate discipline to help counter prolonged slumps but the potential is here for a middle-of-the-order bat with 70-raw power.
10. Abraham Toro – Houston Astros
Highest Level: MLB
I couldn’t go a top 10 without including a Canadian! All jokes aside, Abraham Toro mixes an intriguing blend of power, patience, and hit tool. Will he have a chance to prove his potential with the Houston Astros in the near future? That’s where his chance at being fantasy relevant becomes murky.
He made his debut last year with the Astros and while he didn’t get a real chance to make an impact, he absolutely crushed AA/AAA pitching last year. Hitting .306/.393/.513 in AA then turning the jets on for a blistering .424/.506/.606 in 16 AAA games, he has nothing left to prove in the minors. He’s able to play third, second, and first base so could be valuable as a multi-position, switch-hitting tool. If he ever got a chance at full playing time he could become a top option at third, someone in the Jeff McNeil sort of mold. High average, mid-teens power, and some steals to boot.
Photo by Doug Murray/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter)