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Third Base Prospects To Watch For 2023 Fantasy Baseball

Josh Jung - Fantasy Baseball Rankings, Draft Sleepers, MLB Injury News

Prospects are one of the most prominent components of any team, whether in contention, or flat-out tanking. Building a strong farm system sets the foundations for a team's future, especially the ones in the rebuild stage. Prospects are most valuable as trade bait, and several of them become upper-classman stars in the game.

With Opening Day underway, it's time to identify some of the most talented prospects that are destined for greatness. Today, we will be providing you with the top 10 third-base prospects to keep on your radar throughout the fantasy season. Third base has been a scarce position of talent for prospects, but the current array of third-base prospects could make a huge splash once they turn pro.

Let's take a deep dive! Good luck this year and make sure you check out all of our MLB season-long content here at RotoBaller all season long!

Editor's Note: Our incredible team of writers received 13 award nominations by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association including Baseball Writer of the Year, Football Writers of the Year, Golf Writer of the Year and many more! Be sure to follow their analysis, rankings and advice all year long, and win big with RotoBaller! Read More!


Top 10 Third Base Prospects To Keep Tabs On

10. Coby Mayo, Baltimore Orioles

The Orioles have the deepest-pocketed farm system in baseball, and we've already seen a few products in action. Gunnar is the leader of the pack as he positions himself for a fruitful rookie year, but a name like Coby Mayo should not be overlooked.

Mayo is one of the most undervalued developments in the O's system. He'll always be a power-heavy hitter as demonstrated by his .505 SLG between the last two seasons, but he finds the barrel enough to shape a .800 OPS hitter in the pros. He hit 19 homers with a .782 OPS across three levels last season. His pitch recognition and discipline numbers are a work in progress as demonstrated by his 26% strikeout rate, but his .209 ISO mostly mitigates any flaws in his approach.

For his 6'5" frame, Mayo moves well at third base if you factor out his immense arm strength. His size might shift him to a corner outfield spot, but he'll be an effective fielder wherever he plays. Bottom line; the O's are heavily revered for their ability to develop players and Mayo is certainly a testament. Maybe he’ll even find some reps in the big leagues, which could make him available in deep leagues.

9. Miguel Vargas, Los Angeles Dodgers

Vargas is one of the more intriguing installments here, considering that he plays two other positions aside from the hot corner. He's slowly climbed the prospect ranks in his years in the system, and is projected to play a pivotal role in the Dodgers lineup this season (I would've put him higher on the list if he limited his big league reps to third base only).

The 23-year-old is one of the most advanced hitters in the Dodgers system and has truly learned to navigate the strike zone. He filed a .304 clip with Triple-A Oklahoma City which culminated in a 129 wRC+. Given that he can sustain success in the big leagues based on his elite bat-to-ball skills itself, it wouldn't hurt to mention that he hit 17 homers with a .208 ISO. Once Vargas finds his footing in the bigs, he'll make an appealing leadoff or top-of-the-order hitter.

While the majority of his defensive reps in the big leagues have been everything but third base, he's expected to be a solid regular at third base once he locks a spot in the lineup.

8. Casey Schmitt, San Francisco Giants

Yes, I understand the consequences that come with putting Schmitt ahead of Vargas. There's clearly a major dropoff in terms of their potential at the plate, but all of the tokens go to Schmitt if we factor in arm strength.

Schmitt made big strides at the plate in 2022, after many started to doubt his hitting abilities. He molded a .854 OPS along with 21 long bombs and a .365 OPB. Schmitt should have no problem flirting with 20-home run seasons if his power continues to ameliorate. There are some scouts that are worried about his swinging selections and it is certainly a valid concern when he strikes out 22.8% of the time. Although if he continues to find the barrel, his strikeout numbers should stabilize to a somewhat rational mark.

The Giants are already clearing the path for future shortstop Marco Luciano, which will likely keep Schmitt at third, despite his prowess at shortstop. He's forecasted to be a Gold Glove winner, which isn't a shocker considering his immense arm strength. I would suggest keeping Schmitt on tabs as a potential waiver wire add in  deep leagues if he catapults through Triple-A Sacramento.

7. Christian Encarnacion-Strand, Cincinnati Reds

Based on his name alone, you can immediately fall in love with Encarnacion-Strand. He's got a lot of organizational blockages ahead of him, including Cam Collier, Noelvi Marte, and Elly De La Cruz, but he is certainly a prospect to keep in mind.

Encarnacion-Strand has some of the most impressive raw power that you will find in a prospect, and his righty compact swing creates a whole lot of noise. He laced 32 bombs in 2022 and compiled a .587 SLG, which will by all means categorize him as a 30-plus home run hitter once he turns pro. There is always the concern that his raw power will annihilate his bat-to-ball skills, but that hasn't been much of an issue after amassing a .955 OPS.

Sluggish hitters are inherently prone to elevated strikeout marks, and while the 23-year-old has above-average contact rates, he struck out a bunch last season. That's 137 times to be exact (25.5%). Nonetheless, the California native could break the Reds' 40-man this season if his bat continues to gleam, which would make him a viable pickup in deep leagues.


6. Jonathan Aranda, Tampa Bay Rays

Aranda doesn't qualify as a raw prospect anymore since he graduated from universal prospect rankings. Well, at least in my book he still qualifies as a prospect since he only played in 32 games, which makes him eligible for AL Rookie of the Year voting in 2023.

The 24-year-old was viewed as a solid offensive player through his first few seasons in the Rays system, but things have truly clicked since the 2021 season. His slow start could be attributed to a flaw in his development, but either way, Aranda is now recognized as a competent hitter. He slashed .318/.394/.521 with 18 HRs and a .915 OPS this past season in Triple-A Durham. His ability to elevate the ball and hit line drives were never part of his arsenal until his raw power started to kick in as of 2021 (.532 SLG over the past two seasons.)

If the Mexican native can secure a spot in the Rays' everyday lineup, then his bat could bargain to be an above-average hitter. Defensively, he is versatile and has experience playing multiple infield positions, which will likely impact his eligibility as a true third baseman. Aranda will begin the season in Triple-A, but deep-league fantasy managers should be on the lookout if his bat clicks early on.

5. Curtis Mead, Tampa Bay Rays

Recognized as the Rays' No. 2 prospect, Mead is probably the most appealing fantasy pickup for managers in shallow leagues, considering that he's right on the cusp of the big leagues. Well, he's also one of the most prominent prospects in baseball.

Mead is one of those "impacts wherever" types of hitters, and has one of the simplest yet effective swings. He utilizes a simple right-handed swing that creates all sorts of contact, and most recently some complimentary power. Mead posted a 144 wRC+ with a .378 OPB and .533 SLG. If his pop continues to evolve, it should give him a 20-homer range in the pros. He has impressive pitch recognition which largely suppresses his strikeout numbers as it did in 2022 (15.5% rate).

On the flip side, Mead is a fringy defender and has struggled in recent years to make the throw across the diamond. If his arm issues persist, it could move him to second base on a long-term basis.

4. Brett Baty, New York Mets

The Mets have an exciting pair of prospects on the verge of becoming superstars in the pros, in the form of Baty and backstop Francisco Alvarez. Baty is one of the most well-rounded prospects in the game and is poised to be promoted to the pros at some point this season once he develops more resiliency at a high level.

Baty has a fluent lefty stroke which produces anything from a perfect-perfect barrel to a measly infield bloop single. He has recently begun to lift the ball more, which will translate into more home runs and extra bases considering that he hits the ball hard. He hit for a .315 clip last season, not to mention a ridiculous .410 OBP. As a result of lifting the ball, Baty hit 19 HRs with 22 doubles and a .218 ISO. His strikeouts numbers took a little dip since he started hitting for power (24.8% rate), but it hasn't affected his productivity whatsoever.

The 23-year-old checks every box if you are looking for a waiver wire pickup halfway through the season. Baty will certainly be in the pros by then (hopefully) and will make a fine third-baseman in shallow leagues.


3. Spencer Steer, Cincinnati Reds 

It's tough to "Steer" clear of such a revered and talented prospect. Steer is expected to serve his first full year in the majors this season, and depending on how his bat responds, I would keep tabs on him in deep leagues.

Steer is by all means a contact-first hitter, but the ability to lift the ball for home runs shouldn't be speculated any less. The 25-year-old needs to elevate his AVG, OBP, and SLG in order to truly resemble a true contact hitter, but his numbers made enough noise for subsequent promotion. He hit to the tune of a .274 last season, along with a .364 OBP and a .879 OPS. He's hit 47 long bombs over the past two seasons, which should translate into 20-homer seasons in the big leagues.

If he catapults his triple-slash line this season, I would completely endorse acquiring him through the waiver wire if you're so inclined. If his success in Triple-A can carry over into the bigs, he could compete for some Rookie of the Year hardware.

2. Josh Jung, Texas Rangers

The final player installments are simply a "must-have" in every type of league. If you missed out on Jung in your draft and he's magically available, please don't hesitate to pick him up. Well, considering that he has a 219.87 ADP, it's quite unlikely that he'll be available.

Despite a few bumps in the road due to a couple of injuries, Jung is one of baseball's finest prospects. He's at a disadvantage because he's a 25-year-old rookie, but that has no effect on his capabilities as a player. Jung does it all at the plate. He hits for AVG, has a 25-homer upside, and excels at dictating the pace of each at bat. He only played 31 games last season in the minors due to shoulder surgery, but in 2021, he slashed .326/.398/.592 with a .990 OPS and a 152 wRC+. His injury history is certainly an impingement on his early career, but the underlying metrics prove that he'll be a stud in the big leagues.

Defensively, he's played multiple infield positions, but his arm strength will likely keep him at third base.


1. Gunnar Henderson, Baltimore Orioles

Aside from being the No. 1 prospect in all of baseball, Henderson is getting all of the traction in fantasy leagues. His ADP is 88.92 despite playing in just 34 major league games. That's just food for thought.

I'll keep things simple and easily digestible. Henderson is the epitome of a five-tool player, and will likely be the face of baseball in a couple of years. He's got a bottomless ceiling in every aspect of the game. The 21-year-old finished last season with a 153 wRC+ along with a .947 OPS, 19 homers, and 22 swipes across two levels. He makes consistent hard contact and always goes for the extra base. At the hot corner, he possesses monumental arm strength along with above-average hands that will earn him multiple Gold Glove awards.

There isn't much else to it. Henderson is simply the best of the best.

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