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Mid-Season Dynasty Prospect Rankings: Third Base

By Tracy Proffitt from Lenoir, United States (Joey Gallo #30 - Hickory Crawdads(2)) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Ah third base. Home of shortstops who lack the range to play up the middle and first basemen with too much athleticism to be wasted at first. This is where you will find a lot of power bats and future middle of the order hitters. Some of these guys will shift to first base in the future if they lack the aforementioned athleticism, but most should figure to be big bats for their team in the future.

In my personal opinion, third base this season, much like first and second base, is very top heavy in terms of talent. There are a couple of elite talents who not only warrant owning in all dynasty leagues, but already stand out as future All-Stars and MVP candidates. Then there is a bit of drop-off where owners will find some guys who have 20+ home run pop, but little else to offer owners.

Editor's Note: RotoBaller has the best Premium MLB Subscription for only $1.99 per week. We have all the tools to help win your seasonal and daily leagues: Hitter & Pitcher Streamers, Matchup Ratings for every player, Sleeper Surgers for AVG, HR, Ks, PLUS Daily DFS Cheat Sheets, Lineup Picks, Expert Lineups, Stacks and Avoids.

 

Third Base Dynasty Rankings

A quick note on how these articles are formatted. They are going to be sorted by who I think is the best option for dynasty owners based on a combination of estimated time of arrival and potential upside. I will include their stats from their current level, their age, their ETA and lastly a talent grade. The talent grade will be an all-encompassing grade designed to inform dynasty owners of how big of a fantasy impact a player will realistically have. It will take into account how long it takes to reach the big leagues and will be on a scale of 1-10.

 

1. Joey Gallo (TEX, AAA)
Stats: 182 PA, .269/.412/.607, 13 HR, 1 SB, 25.3% K rate, 19.2% BB rate
Age: 22
ETA: 2016

The left-handed version of Giancarlo Stanton in terms of power potential, Joey Gallo has been considered since he was drafted to be the best power bat in the minors. At every level he has done two things to the extreme: hit home runs and strike out. In 2015, he hit 29 home runs split between three levels while also striking out a whopping 196 times at a rate of 39.4% of the time. This season, however, Gallo has cleaned up his act and is now striking out at a much more reasonable 25.3% of the time while still demonstrating his plus-plus power.

Scouts know exactly what the Rangers have in Gallo: Adam Dunn playing third base. You may be thinking that he belongs in the bottom echelon of prospects I mentioned in the intro paragraphs since he will never hit for a high average, but Gallo is a notable exception. He is not going to hit for a high average and may never bat above .260 in his career, but he will produce some serious awe-inspiring power numbers. The only prospect in the minors with enough power to hit 40+ every full season of his big league career, Gallo is by far the biggest slugger not yet in the majors and should be owned in dynasty leagues even if he is going to bring down the team batting average. And while yes, he will strike out a ton, he will also walk a ton as evidenced by his 18.8% walk rate this season.

The biggest problem right now for the talented third baseman is that he has no future in Texas, at least not right now. Adrian Beltre was recently signed to a contract extension, the outfield spots are all filled up and Prince Fielder and Mitch Moreland both currently occupy first base and designated hitter. Moreland is a free agent at the end of this season, but my gut tells me Gallo will be a member of another team by that point as he is still a big trade chip that the Rangers could use around the trade deadline. He is ready to face big league pitching on a regular basis, he just needs a place to play.

Talent grade: 9

2. Rafael Devers (BOS, A+)
Stats: 260 PA, .233/.300/.335, 4 HR, 7 SB, 16.5% K rate, 8.8% BB rate
Age: 19
ETA: 2019

After absolutely mashing A ball last season, Devers was promoted to High-A to begin 2016 and he has struggled to get things going. Though he has kept the same low strikeout rate and nearly doubled his walk rate, the 19-year-old has neither produced the same high batting average nor shown improvements in his power hitting this season.

But don’t worry Red Sox fans and dynasty owners, there is still plenty of reason to be optimistic about his future. For starters, in his past 19 games, he is slashing .338/.372/.392 with a 14.1% strikeout rate. And though the power has still not shown up, scouts believe that it will with some more time in the minors. Many of those scouts believe that he not only should be able to hit for more power in the future, but that he also could be a solid bet to hit over .280 on a consistent basis.

Devers arguably has the higher upside between him and Gallo, but ultimately I think dynasty owners will benefit more from Gallo’s immediate power bat and his being on the cusp of starting at the big league level. If you are a dynasty owner unlikely to compete for your team’s title in the next three seasons, however, Devers would arguably be the better guy to ride with.

Talent grade: 9

3. Ryan McMahon (COL, AA)
Stats: 258 PA, .214/.316/.335, 3 HR, 7 SB, 29.1% K rate, 12.4% BB rate
Age: 21
ETA: 2018

Power hitting third baseman playing for the Rockies. Need I say more? McMahon is in the middle of a major down year, but it was last season’s power numbers that got Rockies’ fans excited about his future. In 556 PA at High-A, he slashed .300/.372/.520 with 18 home runs, a 27.5% strikeout rate and an 8.8% walk rate. Though the strikeouts are a bit high, there is still a lot to like out of this young player.

Scouts love almost everything about McMahon. He can hit for power, he has a good feel for the strike zone and he is a solid defender at the hot corner. Right now the strikeouts are high because scouts believe that he tends to be wild with his swing and that he struggles to hit an inside fastball. But with his overall hitting ability, he should be able to overcome the strikeout issues and start hitting for a higher average.

It is very concerning to see the struggles this season at Double-A, a level which is often considered to be the best indicator of future big league success, but one can’t deny his power potential. A bat like his could be outstanding playing at Coors Field. But owners of the 21-year-old third baseman will need to keep their eye on him and watch to see how he continues to play because he is a risk to bust if he can’t lower the strikeout rate and raise his average up a bit.

Talent grade: 7

4. Nick Senzel (CIN, R)
Stats:14 PA, .300/.429/.400, 0 HR, 2 SB, 7.1% K rate, 14.3% BB rate
Age: 20
ETA: 2018

The first player on any of my dynasty rankings to be taken in this year’s draft, Nick Senzel is quite the talent and it was no wonder he was taken second overall to the Reds. The third baseman out of Tennessee slashed .352/.456/.595 with eight home runs and 25 successful stolen bases out of 29 attempts in his junior season.

Most scouts viewed Senzel as the best pure bat in the draft. They praise his ability to spray the ball to all fields and his advanced approach to the plate (as evidenced by his 40:21 BB:K rate last season at Tennessee). He did not hit for much power with the Volunteers, but scouts believe the power will eventually emerge after some time in the minors. Plus, he will eventually play at Great American Ballpark, a haven for home runs. His 25 stolen bases show that he does have some speed, but dynasty owners should not expect him to steal 20 bags. Rather, 10-15 should be the expectation with him.

He may have just been drafted this season, but Senzel should not spend too long in the minors. He could even reach the majors as early as next season if he flies through the minors like many believe he can. If there is ever a player dynasty owners should focus on from that draft, it’s this guy right here.

Talent grade: 6.5

5. Austin Riley (ATL, A)
Stats: 254 PA, .248/.295/.368, 3 HR, 2 SB, 32.6% K rate, 6.4% BB rate
Age: 19
ETA: 2019

Taken with the 41st overall pick back in the 2015 draft, Riley rewarded the Braves with a very strong showing at rookie league. Between the two rookie level teams he played on, Riley slashed .305/.390/.544 with 12 home runs and two stolen bases. The strikeout rate was a bit high (25.8%), but that should be expected at such a young age and should be expected to go down as he matures.

Scouts love this kid and the upside that he brings to the table. Though he strikes out a lot, his plate discipline is regarded as an above-average tool of his by most evaluators. Scouts also love his raw power which many believe could develop into 20 home run pop as he continues to mature. He may never hit .300 in a season, but dynasty owners should be able to count on him to hit somewhere above .250 on a consistent basis.

Dynasty owners should definitely give some serious thought to stashing this kid if they have the room for him in their league. Though he won’t be up in the majors until 2019 at the earliest, Riley has some serious power upside and could be a very solid third baseman in his future.

Talent grade: 5

6. Ke’Bryan Hayes (PIT, A)
Stats: 233 PA, .269/.325/.399, 6 HR, 6 SB, 18.0% K rate, 5.6% BB rate
Age: 19
ETA: 2019

I was debating back and forth whether or not to put Austin Riley at fifth or to plug in Ke’Bryan Hayes. Ultimately, I settled on Riley just because he has more power upside than Hayes. But with that said, fantasy owners should not consider Hayes any less valuable of a prospect as he still has plenty to offer owners.

The former first round pick has one of the better pure bats on this list in terms of ability to hit for an average. Scouts praise his plate discipline and his ability to make consistent contact. Right now, the 19-year-old is more of a line drive hitter, but there are some out there who believe the power will begin to develop a little bit more as he matures. He may not become a 20 home run bat like Riley, but owners should expect somewhere around 15 home runs out of his bat.

Still only at Class A, Hayes has several more years of development before he is ready to start in the big leagues. Dynasty owners with patience are urged to show it with this talented third baseman as he could be a guy to consistently hit .280-.300 in the big leagues at the hot corner. And with no legit threats in the Pirates’ system to compete with him at third, it looks like the position will be his for the taking in a few seasons.

Talent grade: 5

7. Jeimer Candelario (CHC, AAA)
Stats: 51 PA, .316/.471/.605, 1 HR, 0 SB, 17.6% K rate, 17.6% BB rate
Age: 22
ETA: 2017

Candelario, much like many of the Cubs’ young hitting prospects, has really snuck up on scouts and has started to show himself as a strong bat in Chicago’s organization. He smashed 15 dingers last season all while batting an impressive .285/.337/.457 with an impressive 15.1% strikeout rate and 7.8% walk rate. And though he struggled earlier this season at Double-A, he is now getting things done at Triple-A as evidenced by the listed stats above.

Candelario is considered to be an all-around solid hitter at the plate. The switch-hitter displays both power and an ability to make consistent contact from both sides of the plate. Especially promising about the 22-year-old is his advanced plate discipline and patience at the dish. Even when he was struggling at Double-A, he still only struck out 18.9% of the time and walked 13.1% of the time. His power is not the best in the world, but 15-20 home runs should definitely be within reach.

A teammate of Dan Vogelbach’s at Triple-A Iowa, Candelario too can commiserate with the first baseman. Both players are trapped at Triple-A behind established superstars Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant. But where Vogelbach needs a trade to have any value with Rizzo stuck at first, all Candelario needs is for Bryant to make the full time shift to left field. Though a trade would also help. Even with the current road blocked, Candelario is still well worth owning in most dynasty leagues as he is just one season away from starting in the big leagues.

Talent grade: 4.5

8. Rio Ruiz (ATL, AAA)
Stats: 255 PA, .266/.365/.372, 4 HR, 0 SB, 25.5% K rate, 12.9% BB rate
Age: 22
ETA: 2017

Ruiz is far from the flashiest or toolsiest player on this list. He is neither going to wow anyone with his power nor make highlight reel plays at third nor hit for a high average. But dynasty owners always ought to like a player like this guy. Acquired by the Braves in the Evan Gattis deal, Ruiz has done nothing but hit and hit consistently.

Scouts are not in love with this guy like they are with many other players, but they still like some of what he has to offer. They see a solid left-handed swing that should be able to hit for a .265-.290 average on a consistent basis in the big leagues. And though his career high in the minors is only 12 home runs, Ruiz is believed to have enough raw power to eventually hit 15-18 bombs per season.

The second Braves farmhand on this list, Ruiz is much closer to the majors than the aforementioned Austin Riley. And though he does not possess near the same ceiling as Riley, dynasty owners are still advised to give Ruiz a chance as he does have the bat and glove to be a starter at third base for the next couple of seasons.

Talent grade: 4.5

9. Matt Chapman (OAK, AA)
Stats: 298 PA, .230/.322/.460, 16 HR, 4 SB, 32.9% K rate, 11.1% BB rate
Age: 23
ETA: 2018

Last season was a true breakout in every sense of the word for Chapman. The A’s third base prospect was hurt for most of the season, but still managed a promising .250/.341/.566 slash line with 23 home runs in 80 games, a pace for 47 home runs in 162 games. The Athletics were hoping he would be able to repeat on that success at Double-A, but as evidenced by the above numbers, it has been an up-and-down season for the 23-year-old.

His Double-A numbers really sum up Chapman perfectly. He has plenty of power, but ultimately his tendency to strike out will hinder his upside. As evidenced, however, by the 16 home runs in only 69 games and his 23 in 80 games last season, he will hit for plenty of power at the big league level and could be a legit 25 home run threat. Just don’t expect him to exceed 30 by too much at the majors.What the numbers don’t show is how slick of a defender he is at the hot corner. Scouts see him as a potential future Gold-Glover which should help get him to the big leagues.

It was tempting to put Chapman further up on this list, but ultimately I could not do it. I have a lot of concerns with his bat even if I am sure he will reach the big leagues by next season. He does have some of the best power of any prospect on this list, but the strikeout rates have only escalated as he reaches the higher levels of the minors while his average has plummeted. I think he is a solid option for teams in desperate need of power, but probable sub-.250 average at the big league level hurts. Especially when he is not a 30 home run threat.

Talent grade: 4

10. D.J. Peterson (SEA, AA)
Stats: 289 PA, .255/.325/.429, 9 HR, 1 SB, 22.1% K rate, 8.3% BB rate
Age: 24
ETA: 2017

Peterson is almost a twin to Matt Chapman when it comes to player profile. Both are big time sluggers whose hype is largely based around their power and earlier breakout seasons. Peterson’s breakout came in 2014 when in 139 games he mashed 32 bombs. However, he has been unable to build on that success as he has hit only 19 in 184 games since then.

Like Chapman, Peterson’s standout tool is his power. He has 20+ home run power that he has already proven able to tap into at any point. But he consistently strikes out 20% of the time and has not shown an ability to hit for a reasonable average at any point. Scouts have major concerns about his chances of being a big league regular and those concerns are only compounded by his poor defense which could force a move to first base.

When power is your biggest (really only) tool and you are eventually going to call Safeco Field home, there is a lot of reason to be concerned. Seattle is generally considered a very tough place to hit for power and he has shown that even that tool may not be as strong as it was once considered to be. I’d still say he is worth a look if nothing else just for his proximity to the majors and potential power upside, but he is by no means a must stash in all dynasty leagues.

Talent grade: 4

 

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