Prospect rankings remain a snapshot of a moment in time, as more information is gathered constantly and new reports can change any number of perceptions on a player's future value. With the end of the minor league season, now's a good time to take a look back at our preseason prospect rankings, and see how some of these perceptions might have changed.
Third base went through a large number of changes this year, as we saw the top two prospects on the list get to the Majors, but spend most of their time at completely different positions. The position actually will graduate a substantial portion of the top 10 this offseason, as Rendon, Arenado, Davidson and Flores could all fall off before the end of the year. Adding players like Kris Bryant, Colin Moran and D.J. Peterson to the mix, as well as emerging prospects like Renato Nunez will help make up some of the drop off.
Note: These are not new rankings. These rankings were originally released in December of 2012.
Consensus Top 20 Third Base Prospects
|#||Player||Org||Highest Level Reached|
Garin Cecchini – Cecchini stood out after his 2012 season due to his high stolen base total (51 in 57 tries), but at the time it was viewed as unlikely he would be able to post totals that high again. While he didn’t rep[eat that performance, he did steal 23 bases in 32 attempts this year, but the bigger performance was how well he hit overall. He finished with a .322/.443/.471 line between High-A and AA, with 47 extra base hits and more walks than strikeouts (94 to 86). He’ll likely be more valuable in leagues where OBP come into play, and we could see him in Boston by 2015.
Wilmer Flores – I personally have not been a big believer in Flores, as I was concerned about his ability to find a defensive position on the field. The Mets shifted Flores to second base this year after signing David Wright to a contract extension, and it sounds like he should be decent enough there to have value for the team. The part that is hard for me right now is to see exactly what the team plans for him in 2014, as Daniel Murphy has had a very good year at 2B, and they have both Ike Davis and potentially Lucas Duda for first base. It seems likely to me that someone ends up getting traded or moved to a different position, but it’s really not clear who that will be just yet.
Maikel Franco – There were questions about Franco’s ability to stay at 3B long term coming into the season, and while those questions remain, questions about his potential at the plate seem to have dropped off pretty dramatically. Between High-A and AA, Franco hit .320/.356/.569 with 31 home runs and 103 runs driven in, hitting even better at AA than High-A. To me, the thing that stands out about his numbers is the amount of contact he is making, as he struck out just 13% of the time while providing that power production.
Mike Olt – Olt struggled with some injuries and specifically vision issues this year, ended up traded to the Cubs, and overall did not perform very well between two AAA stops. He seems likely to get a shot to be the Opening Day starting third baseman for the Cubs next year, or at least he should. Realistically though, there is the potential for as many as three or four other players within the organization to also get that shot, and I wonder whether Olt will make the jump as he was expected to this time last year.
Kaleb Cowart – I’m not really sure what to tell you about Cowart. He didn’t hit for power really (27 extra base hits in 132 games), didn’t hit for average really (.221 with a .280 BABIP), and overall the performance was just meh. He seems destined to me to repeat AA in 2014, and hopefully he can show enough improvement at the plate to get moving forward again. Cowart showed some significant platoon splits this year, and I wonder if at some point the Angels have him give up on switch hitting.
Richie Shaffer - For Shaffer it seems like his downgrade has more to do with what our expectations were in comparison to the performance he provided. He was considered a very polished college bat, and that he could potentially move quickly through the system on the strength of his production at the plate. Shaffer spent the whole season at the Rays’ High-A affiliate in the Florida State league, but the numbers point to a player that struggled at the plate (.254/.308/.399, 11 HR, wRC+ of 99). A strong season in 2014 would likely rebuild some of his value, but it’s not clear that he will be the hitter that he was projected to be when he was drafted.