Top 10 Third Base Prospects

 

Finding a good third baseman is very difficult.  Many of the best hitters in the Majors played the hot corner at some point while in the minors before having moving to other positions.  It takes quick reflexes and a strong arm to defend the position and in today's game third basemen are also required to be run producers. That production translated means power. To get that power into the lineup, many teams are willing to sacrifice a little defense. While some of the guys on this list project to be good defenders, most project to hit with power as it is valued most.

1. Dallas McPherson - Anaheim Angels

Age

2004 level

at-bats

ave

2b

3b

hr

bb

so

obp

slg

24

Majors

40

.225

1

0

3

3

17

.279

.475

AAA

259

.313

19

8

20

23

95

.370

.680

AA

262

.321

17

6

20

34

74

.404

.660

 

Dallas tops this list for one reason, power.  He exploded last season hitting a combined 40 homers between AA and AAA while batting better than .300.  His power is no fluke as he showed it off against good pitchers at the highest levels of the minors.  

 

McPherson had the door opened to be the Angel's starting third baseman with Troy Glaus exiting for Arizona.  After last season he has nothing left to prove in the minors and should be ready to make a solid contribution this season.

 

Despite his power, Dallas does have some flaws that could plague him in the Majors.  First, he is only marginal defensively.  He still has time to improve and has gotten better.  Also, his walks dipped and his strikeouts grew as he advanced to the majors, a sign that he may a have hole or two still in his swing.  

 

Ultimately, he should hit for power and could hit for average as well.  He might not be able to stick at third long term and may have to move to the outfield down the road.

 

2. Ian Stewart - Colorado Rockies

Age

2004 level

at-bats

ave

2b

3b

hr

bb

so

obp

slg

19

Low A

505

.319

31

9

30

66

112

.398

.594

 

Stewart has tremendous talent.  He has the potential to be one of the top hitters in the Majors, hitting for both power and average.  He has already shown off his power by mashing 30 homers at age 19.  Ian also has a good eye as his 66 walks show and he makes solid contact as well.

 

As a defender, Stewart is still a bit raw.  He has a strong arm but committed 25 errors in 131 games.  He is still young however and should improve with experience.

 

Stewart probably has the most upside of any of the third basemen but is still a little raw. He will need to continue to prove himself against better better competition but all signs point to a very bright future.

 

3. Andy Marte - Atlanta Braves

Age

2004 level

at-bats

ave

2b

3b

hr

bb

so

obp

slg

21

AA

387

.269

28

1

23

58

105

.364

.525

Rookie

15

.467

4

0

1

2

2

.529

.993

 

Marte has been a top prospect for several years.  He is a prototypical third baseman as he projects to hit for both power and average. He has already began to show flashes of that power, hitting 23 home runs in just 387 at bats.  

 

Andy also displays a good eye and is not afraid to take a walk.  This is a good sign that he will be able to adjust to better pitching as he moves up through the minors and into the Majors.  

 

Defensively, Marte has improved and is more than adequate at the hot corner now.  He should continue to improve with experience and could become an above average fielder.

 

Marte has tantalizing skills but has yet to put it all together and has been more potential than production. He is said to have good makeup to go with this skills, which bodes well for him reaching his potential.

4. Mark Teahen - Kansas City Royals

Age

2004 level

at-bats

ave

2b

3b

hr

bb

so

obp

slg

23

AAA

315

.279

23

1

8

32

91

.353

.435

AA

197

.335

15

4

6

29

44

.419

.543

 

Acquired by the Royals from Oakland last summer, Teahen might be one of the most under appreciated prospects in the minors.  He lacks any one overwhelming skill and is more known for Moneyball than for what he has accomplished on the field.

 

That said, all Teahen has done is produce.  While he might never win a gold glove, batting title, or home run title, he will be a solid major leaguer.  He is a solid defender and should hit .280-.300 every year with 15 to 20 home runs.  While other players may have more ability, few are as likely to reach their potential as Teahen is.

 

5. Edwin Encarnacion - Cincinnati Reds

Age

2004 level

at-bats

ave

2b

3b

hr

bb

so

obp

slg

22

AA

469

.281

25

1

13

53

79

.352

.443

 

The Reds acquired Encarnacion from the Rangers in 2001 and he has been one of their better hitting prospects since.  While he has yet to produce to the level of his ability, he still has time to put it together.  If he does, he will display average power for his position while making good contact.  

 

Defense is Encarnacion's greatest liability.   He has good quickness for the position and a strong arm but makes too many errors.  If he can cut down on the errors he has the potential to be an above average third baseman.

 

6. Garrett Atkins - Colorado Rockies

Age

2004 level

at-bats

ave

2b

3b

hr

bb

so

obp

slg

25

Majors

28

.357

2

0

1

4

3

.424

.536

AAA

445

.366

43

3

15

57

45

.434

.578

 

At 25, Atkins is at the age when he needs to show he has what it takes to play in the Majors.  His 2004 season did just that.  Hitting .366 with 57 walks in 445 at bats while only striking out 45 times shows that Atkins has nothing left to prove in the Minors.  In the Majors, he should be able to hit for average with good on base percentages but is unlikely to produce much power.

 

With Vinny Castilla moving on, third base is open and Atkins has a very good shot to win the job out of spring training.  He should be able to step in and produce with the bat immediately.  Defensively, however, Atkins still must improve to become at least an average third baseman. 

 

Down the road, Atkins' defensive liabilities, lack of power, and the sheer ability of Ian Stewart will force him into a new position or a new team.

 

7. Eric Duncan - New York Yankees

Age

2004 level

at-bats

ave

2b

3b

hr

bb

so

obp

slg

20

Hi A

173

.254

20

2

4

31

47

.366

.462

Low A

288

.260

23

2

12

38

84

.351

.479

 

Duncan is a highly skilled prospect who is still developing.  He shows the potential for big time power as he hit 43 doubles in 461 at bats.  As he matures, many of those doubles could be turned into home runs.  Duncan also shows a good eye as he walked 69 times last season.  

 

Defensively, Duncan comes up a bit short. He has limited range and arm strength and makes too many errors.  It is too early to tell if he will be able to improve enough to play third in the Majors.  

 

With some experience and maturity, Duncan should be able to grow into his power and improve his batting average and become an above average hitter.

 

8. Brendan Harris - Washington Nationals

Age

2004 level

at-bats

ave

2b

3b

hr

bb

so

obp

slg

24

AAA

377

.302

27

1

17

26

61

.350

.515

 

Like Atkins, Harris is nearing the age when he needs to produce or risk getting lost in the shuffle.  While he played more second than third in '04, Harris likely will need to play third to get a shot in the Majors with the Nationals.  With the bat, Harris makes solid contact with power, enough to top 20 homers in the Majors.

 

Harris is a good athlete who can play second, third or short.  He will likely get a long look as a utlilty player this season while Castilla keeps third warm for him.  In the end, his bat could force its way into the lineup fulltime somewhere this season.

 

9. Nate Schierholtz - San Francisco Giants

Age

2004 level

at-bats

ave

2b

3b

hr

bb

so

obp

slg

21

Hi A

258

.295

18

9

3

15

41

.338

.469

Low A

233

.296

22

0

15

18

52

.353

.584

 

In his first full season, Schierholtz made good impression with his bat.  He hit near .300 in Low A and continued the same after a promotion to Hi A.  Scheirholtz makes good contact and has very good raw power which will be his calling card in the Majors.  

 

Defensively, Nate needs improvement.  He committed 28 errors last season and doesn't yet look comfortable with the speed of the game at third.  He is still only 21 and has plenty of time to work on his defense.  If he does and his power comes around, Schierholtz could be a perennial All Star.

10. Billy Butler - Kansas City Royals

Age

2004 level

at-bats

ave

2b

3b

hr

bb

so

obp

slg

18

Rookie

260

.373

22

3

10

57

63

.488

.596

 

To say the least, Butler dominated rookie ball.  The Royals drafted Butler in the first round of the 2004 draft and he wasted little time justifying his selection.  Butler has very good raw power and has already began translating it into game power.  He also has a very good idea of the strike zone and makes very good contact.

 

As good as Butler's batting numbers were, he has yet to play full-season ball and will need to prove himself against better competition.  His defense also needs a lot of work and will probably force him to change positions.  If he continues to improve and make adjustments against better pitchers, he could develop into an elite hitter in the Majors.

 

 

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