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Welcome back, RotoBallers. I'll be breaking down impact prospects by position. Today I'm bringing you my top 10 third basemen - MLB prospect rankings for the 2018 fantasy baseball season.

There are some clear tiers in this list. There are some seriously elite players at the top. There’s some solid players in the middle who bring plus attributes to the plate and have a chance to see meaningful playing time this year. Then there are others who are risks to add between either playing time concerns or fantasy appeal.

Still, when it comes to adding prospects for fantasy purposes, these top two names for both 2018 and beyond are about as good as it gets. If you have a chance, these two guys might already be worth adding.

 

Top 10 Third Base Prospects for 2018 Fantasy Baseball

1. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (TOR, AA)
Stats: 203 PA, .431/.480/.713, 10 HR, 2 SB, 8.9% BB%, 9.4% K%
ETA: Mid-June
Those numbers should speak for themselves. And if you weren’t totally convinced — I don’t know why you wouldn’t be — he is slashing .474/.514/.821 with 8 home runs in the month of May. Guerrero’s bat is unquestionably ready for the majors. The glove remains the only question, and the Blue Jays seem intent on keeping him at third base. So the obvious question becomes what happens when you have Guerrero tearing up the minors and Josh Donaldson in the majors? Well, the answer is you have the two of them split time between DH and third base, easing Guerrero into third base at the big-league level while also giving him some experience. It is also going a long way to helping the Blue Jays stay competitive for that second Wild Card. Plus if they Jays stink and they need to trade Donaldson, then Guerrero has his full-time third-base playing time.

The other aspect that should not be overlooked is the financial incentive. Toronto is not doing well in attendance this year, but with signs being hung in the park calling out for Guerrero, it is clear a promotion for the uber-prospect would drive attendance up. People will come to watch him play. Throw in jersey sales, promotions and all the other marketing techniques that come with a star player and you’ve got a serious money-maker just sitting in Double-A right now. Sure Toronto could save a year by waiting until the middle of April 2019, but that extra year away from arbitration and the marketing tools right now would probably help make up the difference. It would be very tough to justify not promoting Guerrero and many believe he is set for a post-Super Two call-up. If this is true, he needs to be added in all fantasy leagues. It is probably not a bad idea in some leagues to take the risk that the Blue Jays don’t call him up and just stash him now.

2. Nick Senzel (CIN, AAA)
Stats: 97 PA, .271/.351/.459, 3 HR, 3 SB, 10.3% BB%, 21.6% K%
ETA: Mid-June
Senzel, the No. 6 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, is obviously another great prospect. It is almost unfair to him that he’s No. 2 on this list because he entered the year as the clear top third-base prospect to own in redraft leagues because he looked so MLB-ready. The difference between he and Guerrero is that Senzel is faster and much better defensively (at multiple positions), but doesn’t quite have the same hit tool or raw power. With that said, Senzel is still a guy who should not have much of an issue hitting near or above .300 with 20-plus home runs every season. Had it not been for vertigo issues earlier this year, Senzel could already be up in the majors. At this point though, it seems his promotion will be delayed until at least after the Super Two deadline. He could come up and play shortstop where Jose Peraza has struggled or replace Scooter Gennett at second base if the former waiver-wire claim is flipped at the deadline for prospects. It seems Senzel is on the verge of reaching the majors if he can get fully healthy and would be worth adding in just about all leagues for his high ceiling and high floor.

3. Austin Riley (ATL, AAA)
Stats: 81 PA, .301/.358/.452, 3 HR, 1 SB, 8.6% BB%, 30.9% K%
ETA: Late June
The Atlanta Braves reward their prospects. When someone is hitting and really shows he belongs at a higher level, he gets called up. Even with Acuna this year, the uber-prospect got off to a slow start and then when he started hitting again, he was promoted to the majors. Riley mashed Double-A and earned a ticket to Gwinnett where he has continued to do the same thing. There is risk with Riley though where there isn’t with Senzel and Guerrero. While he comes with some serious power, there are holes in his swing and strikeouts have been a real issue for him. He could struggle to adjust to big-league pitching and his batting average could be low for a while. But with his power in the middle of a very good lineup, he would still be able to earn plenty of value. He could be worth owning in 12-plus-team leagues.

4. Ryan Mountcastle (BAL, AA)
Stats: 67 PA, .300/.343/.450, 2 HR, 0 SB, 7.5% BB%, 14.9% K%
ETA: Early August
There are some major tiers in these third-base rankings. Guerrero and Senzel are the elite, Riley is the second tier and then there’s a steep drop-off. From here, there’s risk that players either won’t be promoted or won’t be impact players. Mountcastle has a lot of risk that he might not be promoted, but if he was, he has the bat to be a real impact player. Despite little patience at the plate, Mountcastle makes enough contact that he should still be able to hit for a high average. He also has plus power with the chance to be a 20-plus home run hitter. Mountcastle will really need to hit his way to the majors given the major questions surrounding his glove and future defensive home, but Mountcastle would be a worthy add if he does at some point get the promotion.

5. Dawel Lugo (DET, AAA)
Stats: 178 PA, .263/.270/.337, 1 HR, 2 SB, 1.1% BB%, 14.6% K%
ETA: Early July
Lugo has already shown that he will be called up by Detroit this season. Though he did not register a plate appearance in the majors, Lugo did at least receive the promotion. Lugo makes a lot of contact and could be a medium-floor player in the big leagues because of it. He hasn’t been able to tap much into his raw power and doesn’t have much speed. Lugo has a better chance of being promoted than a lot of people on this list, but the impact value is really low. He might be called up to play second base or third if Jeimer Candelario gets hurt, but don’t expect much more than a decent batting average. He would be a solid depth piece in deep leagues.

6. Lucas Erceg (MIL, AA)
Stats: 192 PA, .215/.283/.302, 3 HR, 1 SB, 7.8% BB%, 14.1% K%
ETA: September
Erceg has been a popular fantasy sleeper among evaluators, but it took some time for him to get healthy this season and he has not been able to get it going at the plate. Still, scouts are still believers in his power potential. They also like his ability to make enough contact and take his fair share of walks, which should allow him to at least post a respectable batting average to accompany the power numbers. With Travis Shaw firmly entrenched at third base, it would take an injury or a trade for Erceg to see the majors before September, but he could receive some solid playing time down the stretch.

7. Michael Chavis (BOS, NA)
Stats: NA
ETA: September
Chavis has yet to log an inning in 2018 after being suspended for PEDs, but after Hanley Ramirez was designated for assignment, Chavis got one step closer to playing for Boston. He’s not super athletic, but could play first, second or third base as well as designated hitter if called up. And he showed last season that the power is real. His batting average could struggle given Chavis’ long standing history of strikeout issues, but he could make up for it with power. It’s not likely he will be promoted until September unless there is an injury or he is traded, but he could help fantasy owners in deeper leagues if he does get the call up.

8. Yu Cheng-Chang (CLE, AAA)
Stats: 167 PA, .271/.339/.431, 4 HR, 1 SB, 7.2% BB%, 23.4% K%
ETA: September
With Francisco Lindor at shortstop, Chang has been asked to play multiple positions in the minors, mostly third base so far. For fantasy owners, any way Change can reach the majors will be helpful. Though there are questions about his strikeouts, Chang has the power and average speed that could allow him to be a 15/10 player in the majors if given a full season of work. It will still not be easy for Chang to reach the majors, but if there’s an injury, he figures to be one of the first players called up given his versatility. He also could be dealt at the deadline. Don’t feel the need to stash Chang, but he could be a solid add in deeper leagues if he is promoted.

9. Ke’Bryan Hayes (PIT, AA)
Stats: 184 PA, .253/.313/.389, 3 HR, 4 SB, 8.2% BB%, 13.6% K%
ETA: September
It’s starting to get pretty crowed up in Pittsburgh. With Josh Bell at first, Colin Moran at third and a crowded outfield, there’s not a lot of places for someone like Hayes to squeeze in. However, he has shown himself to be at least serviceable at Double-A for a 21-year-old and for a young team like Pittsburgh, Hayes could be a candidate to log some meaningful innings in September if someone like Bell or Moran struggles. It would take some injuries for him to be called up before then, but with his bat, he would be someone worth keeping an eye on in September in very deep leagues.

10. Edmundo Sosa (STL, AA)
Stats: 189 PA, .278/.314/.438, 5 HR, 1 SB, 4.2% BB%, 20.1% K%
ETA: September
Sosa will help his case by having positional versatility. But like with many other players on this list, there’s not a clear path for him right now. He would have to be traded away or have a couple injuries for him to see the majors. But Sosa has started off the 2018 season strong, channeling some power not many expected while not even tuning into his plus speed. He is slowly improving his fantasy stock and if nothing else, he could be a solid long-term bat to monitor. For redraft leagues, he could be solid in very deep leagues if he gets a chance. But more than anything else, keep an eye on him in dynasty leagues.

 

More 2018 MLB Prospects Analysis





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