2012 Prospect Rankings Review: Third Basemen

Aug 2, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Texas Rangers rookie first baseman Mike Olt (9) at bat in the third inning against the Los Angeles Angels at Rangers Ballpark. This game was Olt's first in the majors. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE

Over the past week, I have been taking a brief look back at how the top prospects at each position (as ranked during the preseason and again in the midseason) performed this year, and whether they improved or worsened their stock this year. Note that each of these reviews are not new rankings, and will not discuss anyone not on either of those rankings. We are up to the final infield position with the discussion of the third base prospects.

You can find the previous reviews here: Catcher, First Base, Second Base, Shortstop

You can also find our preseason 3B rankings here, as well as the midseason 3B rankings here. All statistics are courtesy of Baseball Reference, and are through Monday's games.

Will Middlebrooks (Red Sox)
Preseason Rank Midseason Rank Level G AB R HR RBI SB BB K AVG OBP SLG

6

Not Eligible

AAA/MLB

99

360

52

24

81

7

20

88

.300

.331

.553

Middlebrooks wasn't expected to be up early on in the season, but injuries to Kevin Youkilis and excellent performance led the Red Sox to call him up fairly early on. He hit so well when he arrived that it ended up facilitating a trade of Youkilis out of town eventually. Middlebrooks' season ended with a broken wrist, but he'll come into the 2013 season as the presumptive starter at 3B.

Mike Olt (Rangers)
Preseason Rank Midseason Rank Level G AB R HR RBI SB BB K AVG OBP SLG

9

5

AA/MLB

114

386

67

28

87

5

66

114

.277

.377

.546

Olt came into the season viewed as a potentially good prospect, but unsure based on the injuries he suffered in 2011. He was promoted to AA to start the season, and ended up leading the Texas League in home runs before his promotion to the Majors on August 1st. Olt will likely be a very popular name among trade discussions this offseason, as his highest value is as a 3B, which is locked down for another 3 years with Adrian Beltre.

Zack Cox (Cardinals/Marlins)
Preseason Rank Midseason Rank Level G AB R HR RBI SB BB K AVG OBP SLG

10

12

AAA/AA

108

394

41

10

43

1

22

90

.254

.301

.409

It's a bit concerning that the Cardinals were willing to include their top draft pick from the 2010 draft in a trade for a middle reliever less than two seasons after drafting him. The Marlins proceeded to send him back to AA upon acquiring him, and he did not hit any better really while there. This really does not bode well for his long-term value to fantasy owners.

Nolan Arenado (Rockies)
Preseason Rank Midseason Rank Level G AB R HR RBI SB BB K AVG OBP SLG

1

3

AA

134

516

55

12

56

0

39

58

.285

.337

.428

Arenado received a ton of buzz coming into the season, as there were rumors that the Rockies might go with him as their starting 3B on Opening Day despite not having played above High-A. They didn't, and Arenado had a bit of an up-and-down season in AA. The overall performance was solid, but I think many people were hoping for a lot more power production out of him than this.

Nick Castellanos (Tigers)
Preseason Rank Midseason Rank Level G AB R HR RBI SB BB K AVG OBP SLG

4

1

A+/AA

134

537

72

10

57

8

36

118

.320

.365

.451

Castellanos started out the season white-hot, as he was hitting .405 in High-A before his promotion to AA. The Tigers have Castellanos playing the outfield in the Arizona Fall League, in the hopes that they can get his bat into the lineup in Detroit very soon. Castellanos is blocked at 3B in the Motor City for the foreseeable future, so this may be the quickest way to get him there.

Anthony Rendon (Nationals)
Preseason Rank Midseason Rank Level G AB R HR RBI SB BB K AVG OBP SLG

3

6

A+/AA

43

133

28

6

12

0

23

29

.233

.363

.489

Rendon's stock really took a hit this season, as it was hoped at the start of the season that he would be able to shed the injury-prone label. Getting hurt in the second game of the season with a similar injury to the previous ones isn't likely to do that. He missed a major portion of the season, but did finish pretty strongly at AA. At this point, Rendon is high-risk, high-reward, pure and simple.

Matt Davidson (Diamondbacks)
Preseason Rank Midseason Rank Level G AB R HR RBI SB BB K AVG OBP SLG

6 (1B)

8

AA

135

486

81

23

76

3

69

126

.261

.367

.469

The biggest knock on Davidson coming into the season seemed to be whether or not he could stay at the 3B position, or if he was more of a 1B only prospect. Davidson played almost exclusively at 3B this year, but the performance isn't exactly making anyone feel warm and fuzzy (.921 fielding %, 28 errors) For him to have a long-term outlook in Arizona, he will really need to find a way to improve his defense.

Kaleb Cowart (Angels)
Preseason Rank Midseason Rank Level G AB R HR RBI SB BB K AVG OBP SLG

NR

10

A/A+

135

526

90

16

103

14

67

111

.276

.358

.452

The conversion for Cowart to a full-time position player continues to go well, as he hit fairly well across both levels he played at this season. Interestingly, he played a similar amount of games at each level, but nearly doubled his walk total in High-A. The strikeout rate went up with the promotion as well, but I would have expected that to some level anyway.

Cheslor Cuthbert (Royals)
Preseason Rank Midseason Rank Level G AB R HR RBI SB BB K AVG OBP SLG

5

14

A+

124

475

47

7

59

6

37

80

.240

.296

.322

A prospect who had a ton of helium in preseason rankings, Cuthbert really struggled in High-A this year. It's hard to really be that far down on a prospect who played a full season in High-A at age 19, and there are some signs of hope: He did hit .308/.345/.364 in August, and had his best line drive rate of any month (16%). Perhaps a buy-low opportunity?

Miguel Sano (Twins)
Preseason Rank Midseason Rank Level G AB R HR RBI SB BB K AVG OBP SLG

2

2

A

129

457

75

28

100

8

80

144

.258

.373

.521

We were hoping to see Sano build on his short-season performance in 2011, and he absolutely confirmed that the power will be his calling card to the Majors. However, there still remain concerns about his long-term position, and the swing-and-miss can be a bit much at times. He's probably not going to hit for average, but with the amount of power potential, will you even notice?

Garin Cecchini (Red Sox)
Preseason Rank Midseason Rank Level G AB R HR RBI SB BB K AVG OBP SLG

8

11

A

118

455

84

4

62

51

61

90

.305

.394

.433

Cecchini doesn't really fit the prototypical mold you would normally see out of a third baseman, based on the statistics he provided this season. However, it is thought that he will develop power over time. The part of his game that really appears to have been a surprise this year is the speed, as there didn't appear to be a lot of indications that he would steal that many bases. Cecchini looks like a work in progress, where the statistics don't really tell the true story.

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