We continue our prospect rankings with a look at the future of the third base position. As he will be throughout this series, Andy Germani joins me to rank the top third base prospects for 2016. Our rankings will be consolidated to give you our final site rankings, but you can see where Andy and I ranked them in the table as well. These are fantasy rankings, and I remind you that Andy and I are not scouts, just simply heavy followers of baseball prospects. We hope you enjoy the rankings!
|2||Rafael Devers||Red Sox||19||2018||2||2|
|7||Michael Chavis||Red Sox||20||2018||5||8|
|14||Trey Michalczewski||White Sox||20||2018||11||20|
The following players received one vote: Kyle Kubitza, Angels (Andy 24), Michael Gerber, Tigers (Andy 25), Austin Dean, Marlins (Paul 25)
Who is your favorite third base prospect to break out in 2016?
Andy: I really like what Jomar Reyes did last year as an 18-year-old playing in A ball. He kept the strikeout rate low (21%) and I think he really has room to grow in the power department. He already stands at 6’3” 220 and will be playing the 2016 season as a 19-year-old. I think the power comes a long a little better this season as he turns some of the doubles he has been hitting into homers. In a few years I might look back on a nice season this year with a true huge breakout in 2017, but I think his price to be acquired will be at its best value right now.
Paul: We would be talking about 2015 as Matt Chapman‘s breakout year if not for an early knee injury and a season-ending wrist injury. In just 80 games, Chapman hit 23 homers, and while he may have benefited from a favorable hitters park, he would have led the California league in home runs if not for his missed time. The power is very much for real, but he also decreased his K% each month last year. Chapman should start in AA this year against tougher competition, but I believe he’s just a step away from being talked about among the game’s best third base prospects.
What prospect could make a surprising contribution to fantasy teams in 2016?
Andy: There is no lock he gets the call, but I think Renato Nunez is the closest to getting a chance that could produce, that isn’t the obvious Joey Gallo choice. Nunez might start in AA, but should move fairly quickly to AAA if he produces again. He has gotten a good strikeout rate down to a great 15% level. If he does get the call this season I think he can do about what Eddie Rosario did last year in terms of homers (13) and average (.267) with potential for some more power in future seasons.
Paul: Rio Ruiz had a rough season last year in AA, but started to get back on track over the last 6 weeks, hitting .289/.373/.459. With the Braves moving Hector Olivera to the outfield, 30-year-old Adonis Garcia is left to man the hot corner. While he hit 10 HR in just 191 AB, the career minor leaguer had an inflated 22% HR/FB% with a 1:7 BB:K ratio. Ruiz is a much more complete player, and
if/when Garcia struggles Ruiz could find himself with a big league spot.
What lesser-known prospect should fantasy owners put on their radars now?
Andy: Strikeouts are a big concern, but Taylor Sparks has 20/20 potential in the future. His success to this point could be because he was a college bat playing in rookie ball and high-A, but the power and speed potential can’t be ignored. Sparks hit 10 homers with 14 steals in only 55 games after being drafted in 2014. He followed it up with a 13 homer, 14 steal season in high-A. For Sparks, it is all going to come down to the strikeouts. If he can manage to get them to a more manageable rate, somewhere around 25%, his 20/20 potential will play nicely at third base. He isn’t near being ownable unless your league has around 400 or more minor league players being owned, but his early season numbers are worth monitoring.
Paul: The Braves took Austin Riley with their third pick in 2015, a high school kid with big time power (as well as a big 95 mph fastball on the mound). At just 19-years-old, Riley has a long ways to go, but already showed off some of his power in 2015 where he hit 12 home runs in the GCL and Appalachian League in just 60 games. I may have been aggressive with this ranking, but it’s better to get in a little early on this type of bat than a little late.
What prospect would it not surprise you if he fell significantly in the next year?
Andy: That would be my number one overall third base prospect Joey Gallo. I have him first because of his ability to hit 40 homers in any given season, and there aren’t many players who can do that. He had a 46% strikeout rate in his brief stint in the majors last season. In the upper levels of the minors (AA and AAA) he had a 38% strikeout rate. To put that in perspective take a look back at Chris Carter’s 2013 season where he struck out 212 times in 585 plate appearances. That insane strikeout rate was actually lower than Gallo’s rate in the upper minors. Gallo could be Chris Carter and never really get over the strikeouts or he could turn into Chris Davis. The ceiling is really enticing and the floor is still a 25 plus homer player, but with a really low average.
Paul: Trey Michalczewski is the guy I’m hoping falls off the list next year, if only to save me constantly correcting the spelling of his name. Honestly though, I don’t see a ton here as far as potential goes unless the power actually progresses to match his large frame. I hedged my bets with a #20 ranking, but if nothing more shows up in 2016, I can’t imagine he’d make the cut.
Come back next Wednesday when we will publish our Top 25 Shortstop Prospects.
Still need more rankings? Head on over to Fantasy Rundown, where Goose has compiled Prospect Rankings from all the top sites on the web along with rankings for the 2016 season and the best baseball links available.