This offseason the dynasty team over at PitcherList has made it a point to bring you as much prospect coverage as possible. During January we put together 30 teams in 30 days outlining the top 15 prospects in each system. If you missed that I encourage you to check those out. Earlier this month, our top 100 consensus list came out beginning the process of breaking down prospects by each position. Several have already been released with their links below. Up today is third base.
For years the third base was viewed as one of the deepest positions in fantasy baseball. The position was filled with players like Josh Donaldson, Kyle Seager, Anthony Rendon, Adrián Béltre, and Todd Frazier. There is still plenty of talent at the top in players like José Ramírez, Manny Machado, and Nolan Arenado; drafters face more questions than answers as they move down the list. Between aging veterans and unproven youth, drafters may be wise to draft third base early on. Several of the players found in the top ten list below are going to have significant impacts on the 2023 fantasy baseball season. The next wave of great third basemen is right around the corner. Keep reading to find out who the staff thinks are the top ten biggest names to know.
Top 10 Third Base Prospects for Fantasy Baseball Prospects
1. Gunnar Henderson: 3B/SS, Baltimore Orioles, #2
Age: 21/2022 Stats (AA/AAA): 407 AB/.297/.416/.531/19 HR/22 SB/101 R /76 RBI
MLB Stats: 116 AB/.259/.348/.440/4 HR/1 SB/12 R/18 RBI
Gunnar Henderson was perhaps baseball’s biggest breakout prospect in 2022. After struggling for years with high strikeout rates, the former 2019 second-round pick finally put it all together. He dominated both Double-A and Triple-A before receiving a promotion to the Major Leagues. All he did in his Major League debut was post a 125 wRC+ with an 18/600 home run pace. The strikeout rate did creep back up in Triple-A and the Major Leagues, providing a little bit of concern, but at just 21 years old Henderson has plenty of time to develop. With plus speed and plus power, and an at least average hit tool, Henderson has the looks of being a big-time fantasy asset for years to come. Henderson has the upside to hit 30 home runs with 15-20 stolen bases in the middle of an improving Baltimore lineup.
My Personal Top-150 Ranking: 4
2. Jordan Walker: 3B/OF, St. Louis Cardinals, #3
Age: 20/2022 Stats (AA): 461 AB/.306/.388/.510/19 HR/22 SB/100 R /68 RBI
In terms of athletic ability and pure upside, there is not a third base prospect that ranks above Jordan Walker. Walker has flashed elite athleticism at every level since joining the Cardinals’ organization. He followed up a .317/.388/.548 professional debut by slashing .306/.388/.510 as a 19/20-year-old in Double-A. Walker consistently barrels up baseballs leading to excellent exit velocities with plus-plus raw power. He has consistently posted above-average HR/FB rates and figures to maintain this success as he continues to move through the system.
The Cardinals have a pretty decent third baseman in Nolan Arenado, so Walker is currently blocked at his primary position. His strong athletic abilities have allowed him to transition to the outfield where he still profiles as a plus defender. A strong Spring Training could earn him a spot on the Major League roster as early as Opening Day of this season. He has 30-home run and 15-steal potential. The only concern is a relatively high ground ball rate that will need to come down in order for his raw power to play up.
My Personal Top 150 Ranking: 6
3. Miguel Vargas: 3B/2B/1B/OF, Los Angeles Dodgers, #11
Age: 23/2022 Stats (AAA): 438 AB/.304/.404/.511/17 HR/16 SB/100 R /82 RBI
MLB Stats: 47 AB/.170/.200/.255/1 HR/1 SB/4 R/8 RBI
Miguel Vargas brings an element of positional versatility many other third basemen do not. Vargas primarily played third base in his Minor League career, but also played first base, second base, and outfield. The versatility is nice and will lead to more Major League opportunities early in his career, but Vargas’ calling card is his hit tool. Since 2019, Vargas hit .311/.388/.493 with a strikeout rate of just 15.3%. Vargas has an excellent understanding of the zone and an above-average ability to make contact. Before the pandemic, there were questions about how his power would develop. Vargas took the time off to work on generating more power by pulling the baseball more. He hit a career-best 23 home runs in 2021 and another 17 in Triple-A last season before his Major League call-up.
Entering 2023, Vargas profiles to be the Dodgers’ everyday second baseman. His plus-hit tool should propel him to high averages while he has enough power to hit 20 home runs. Vargas also quietly had 94th percentile sprint speed and should be able to add around ten stolen bases. He profiles as an above-average regular with the potential for multi-positional eligibility.
My Personal Top-150 Ranking: 13
4. Josh Jung: 3B, Texas Rangers, #17
Age: 25/2022 Stats (CPX/AAA): 124 AB/.266/.326/.540/9 HR/1 SB/19 R /29 RBI
MLB Stats: 98 AB/.204/.235/.418/5 HR/2 SB/9 R/14 RBI
Flashback to this time last year and Josh Jung would have ranked even higher on this list. The 2019 eighth-overall pick looked like one of the most polished hitters in Minor League baseball. In 2021, he hit 19 home runs with an average well above .300. There were no glaring weaknesses in his game before a torn labrum ruined caused him to lose much of the 2022 season. In a recent report, Jung admitted to rushing back from the injury to get back on the field. In his Major League debut, Jung hit just .204 with a strikeout rate above 38%. The quality of contact was impressive with a strong barrel rate, sweet spot percentage, and HR/FB%. The issue was high chase and whiff percentages which resulted in most of Jung’s struggles.
Looking toward 2023, it remains to be seen how much of Jung’s struggles correlate to health and how many are real flaws in his game. Without much speed, Jung is going to need to contribute in both the average and power departments to be a useful fantasy asset. He has .280 and 20 potential, he just needs to keep the strikeout rate in check.
My Personal Top 150 Ranking: 33
5. Curtis Mead: 2B/3B, Tampa Bay Rays, #22
Age: 22/2022 Stats (AA/AAA): 282 AB/.298/.390/.532/13 HR/7 SB/43 R /50 RBI
Curtis Mead is the latest case of a Tampa Bay infield utility prospect working his way up Minor League prospect rankings. While spending the entire 2020 pandemic season stuck in Australia, Mead worked relentlessly to improve his game. He came back hitting the ball harder than ever while posting a 163 wRC+ through 47 games in Low-A. Mead has since made it to Triple-A and many expect him to make his Major League debut at some point this season.
Mead has a plus-hit tool carried by an aggressive approach with excellent raw power. He quieted concerns about his over-aggressive approach in 2022 and demonstrated a mature understanding of the zone and a willingness to lay off pitches. The only question remaining is if he will be able to hit enough fly balls to cash in on his raw power. Mead has never hit more than 15 home runs in a season and has shown a tendency to hit more ground balls than are desired. He still does not have a true defensive home but has the upside to hit for good average, power, and add a handful of stolen bases. There is potential Mead ends up as a full-time DH which adds pressure on his bat to perform well for fantasy purposes.
My Personal Top 150 Ranking: 41
6. Brett Baty: 3B, New York Mets, #31
Age: 23/2022 Stats (CPX/AAA): 362 AB/.315/.410/.533/19 HR/2 SB/76 R /60 RBI
MLB Stats: 38 AB/.184/.244/.342/2 HR/0 SB/4 R/5 RBI
Brett Baty is the only player on this list I got the chance to already write about in the top-15 team previews. The Mets’ 2019 first-round pick has always had massive raw power. The questions have been how much of his raw power will translate into game power. Throughout his Minor League career Baty’s swing has been inconsistent, leading to high ground-ball rates. 2022 finally marked the breakout the Mets had been waiting for. Baty was able to increase his launch angle to hit more fly balls and as a result, hit 19 home runs in just 89 Double-A games. He is patient at the plate, willing to work walks and punish any mistake a pitcher makes. There is a lack of speed, but the bat should more than make up for this.
His 11-game Major League debut was nothing spectacular as Baty hit just .184, but most of this can be attributed to an unlucky .179 BABIP. The underlying metrics looked strong and Baty should see more success in 2023. I expect him to win the starting third base job in New York and bat in a loaded lineup filled with RBI and run opportunities.
My Personal Top 150 Ranking: 55
7. Junior Caminero: 3B/SS, Tampa Bay Rays, #50
Age: 19/2022 Stats (CPX/A): 239 AB/.314/.384/.498/11 HR/12 SB/37 R /51 RBI
Junior Caminero has seen his hype level rise throughout the offseason. A strong professional debut for Cleveland’s DSL team caught the Rays’ attention and they traded for him prior to the 2022 season. Caminero did not miss a beat as he excelled at the complex level before a promotion to Low-A. Caminero showed a plus hit tool with great raw power and exit velocities. His power plays bigger than the 5’11” frame would suggest, and although he is likely a third baseman long-term, he has enough power to remain fantasy relevant. The biggest hurdle is going to be a swing adjustment to generate more loft. He ran high ground ball rates at both levels in 2022 which will limit his home run output. If Caminero can adjust, the ceiling is one of the highest at the position.
My Personal Top 150 Ranking: 141
8. Cam Collier: 3B, Cincinnati Reds, #59
Age: 18/2022 Stats (CPX): 27 AB/.370/.514/.630/2 HR/0 SB/7 R /4 RBI
The Reds’ first-round pick from the 2022 draft will be just 18 years old for the entirety of the 2022 season. After leaving high school early to play JuCo (like Bryce Harper), Cam Collier was selected 18th overall by Cincinnati. Despite his age, Collier appears to have one of the safer floors among first-year players.
He has a strong hit tool which was on full display during his nine-game sample where he hit 370. Collier already demonstrates the ability to use all fields by depositing balls into gaps with plus power. Nine games might not mean much, but it was impressive for a 17-year-old to walk more than he struck out in his first professional baseball action. There is not much speed in Collier’s profile, but the bat should carry him just enough. Do not let the age fool you, Collier has a chance to move quickly through the Reds’ system and be an impact bat in the middle of the lineup.
My Personal Top 150 Ranking: 26
9. Christian Encarnacion-Strand: 3B/1B, Cincinnati Reds, #65
Age: 23/2022 Stats (A+/AA): 484 AB/.304/.368/.587/32 HR/8 SB/76 R/114 RBI
The Reds identified Christian Encarnacion-Strand as a key return piece in the trade for Tyler Mahle. Encarnacion-Strand has done nothing but mash since being drafted in the fourth round of the 2021 draft. He posted a 175 wRC+ in his 2021 professional debut and followed that up with a 152 wRC+ last year. His massive power is fully unleashed thanks to a smooth and consistent bat path that taps into his pull-side power. There is easy 30-home run potential here with the added bonus of Great American Ballpark being his future home field. If Encarnacion-Strand can keep the strikeouts in check he has a chance to be a middle-of-the-lineup bat in Cincinnati as soon as the middle of this season.
My Personal Top 150 Ranking: 125
10. Coby Mayo: 3B, Baltimore Orioles, #69
Age: 21/2022 Stats (CPX/A+/AA): 388 AB/.247/.326/.456/19 HR/5 SB/72 R /69 RBI
Coby Mayo is your prototypical third baseman: big-bodied, standing at 6’5” and 215 lbs with massive raw power. Mayo generates moonshot power when he connects and posts some of the highest exit velocities in the Minor Leagues. Many scouts believe Mayo to have a plus hit tool despite his mediocre averages from the 2022 season. Mayo’s big swing generates plenty of fly balls which is a bonus for his home run total but could continue to impact his batting average. His ceiling is likely somewhere around .260 with 30 home runs if all goes right. Entering 2023, his perceived value seems lower than it should and now might be a good time to target Mayo in dynasty leagues. He is not the flashiest and will not provide many stolen bases, but 30 home run power is plenty valuable by itself.
My Personal Top 150 Ranking: 62
Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)