The minor league season has entered its' final month, and with that I always like to start taking a look back at how my rankings went during the preseason. Next up is third base, one of the stronger positions right now in the majors with an immense amount of young, elite talent.
The (Brief) State of the Position
Third base has transitioned over the past couple of years, and we've seen a number of new elite options emerge. The top options at the position in the majors now include the Blue Jays' Josh Donaldson, who has become a top 10 overall option in his first year in Toronto, along with Manny Machado, Nolan Arenado and Todd Frazier. The rookie class this year is among the best we've seen in a while with Kris Bryant, Miguel Sano, and Maikel Franco all becoming starters as the year has progressed. It's going to be fun to watch over the next few years, as we could end up with potentially all seven among the top 50 overall in fantasy.
Preseason Top 15 with Current Level
1. Kris Bryant - Cubs (MLB - Graduate)
Bryant isn't the player he can be yet, but he's still be an extremely valuable fantasy producer this year. He's hitting .257 with 17 home runs, 12 stolen bases, 64 runs and 69 RBI through Friday's games, good for the 8th spot among all third basemen this year despite not playing the first two weeks. He remains a potential 30-35 home run bat who should provide a decent batting average at least, with the potential for more.
2. Miguel Sano - Twins (MLB - Graduate)
The Twins finally called up Sano to help their struggling offense on July 2nd, and he's been a top 5 third basemen since then. In 42 games, he's hitting .290 with 10 home runs (4th among all Twins) and 32 RBI, along with 28 walks (5th among all Twins). While I don't think he necessarily will hit for this high of an average going forward, he should still be able to hit .260 with 35+ home runs a year.
3. Joey Gallo - Rangers (AAA)
Gallo made his debut when Adrian Beltre missed time earlier in the year, hitting 5 home runs in 25 games, but with a .218 batting average and 43 strikeouts. The power remains 80 grade, but the batting average risk comes with it long term. Even if he only hits in the .230 range, he could still hit 30 home runs a year, with 40 a real possibility as well.
4. Maikel Franco - Phillies (MLB DL - Graduate)
Franco will likely miss the rest of the year with a fracture in his wrist, but it was a solid debut for him in Philadelphia. He hit .277 with 13 home runs in 77 games, and could be a top 10 option over a full season in 2016.
5. D.J. Peterson - Mariners (AAA)
It's been a pretty rough year developmentally for Peterson, who had a strong season in 2014 between High-A and AA, but has struggled pretty mightily all year long. The Mariners did promote him to AAA last month after hitting well in July, but an achilles injury has landed him on the disabled list as well. It's a tough profile, as there have been concerns that Peterson will not be able to stay at third base, and will need to hit that much more for that to occur.
6. Yasmany Tomas - Diamondbacks (MLB - Graduate)
Tomas has appeared in 95 games in the majors this year, including 31 at third base. He hasn't hit for the power that was anticipated originally (8 HR, .430 SLG), but with a .297 average and five steals, it's still been a fairly productive rookie season if you're using him at third.
7. Rafael Devers - Red Sox (A)
Devers is hitting .275 with 11 home runs and 31 doubles with the loaded Greenville affiliate, and reports on him this year continue to raise his profile even more. He may have to move to first base before he reaches the majors, but the bat will profile there regardless, as a potential .275-.280 hitter with 25+ homeruns.
8. Rio Ruiz - Braves (AA)
It's been a tough year for Ruiz as well, hitting .223 with just two home runs and 17 doubles at AA Mississippi. He's definitely likely to drop in rankings during the offseason, but he has been hitting better in the past month or so. Hopefullt the reports during the offseason give us a more positive outlook than we are seeing right now.
9. Ryan McMahon - Rockies (A+)
McMahon is hitting .302/.377/.522 with 16 home runs in Modesto this year, showing us a bit of what was expected at the plate from him long term. He's definitely improved his stock this year, with the potential to provide 20-25 home runs, and a solid batting average. I don't see him being a .300 hitter long term, but he should still be a very productive hitter that we could see in Colorado in a couple years.
10. Hunter Dozier - Royals (AA)
Dozier has seen his strikeout rate increase towards 30%, and has struggled to make enough contact to let his above-average power play in-game. It sounds like the numbers may not even necessarily reflect how bad it truly is right now:
From Royals Review's midseason top 45 prospect update by Shaun Newkirk:
Some evaluators mention concerns with upper level velocity and others that he can be too passive at the plate.
Another concern has been a tweak in his mechanics. In an effort to hit for more power, Dozier has tried adding some loft to his swing and while he's hitting for more power, the drawbacks of the change have reared their head (longer swing, issues with velo).
11. Garin Cecchini - Red Sox (AAA)
Cecchini looked to be a candidate for the third base job in Boston at the start of the offseason last year, but the team went out and signed Pablo Sandoval, blocking Cecchini pretty handily. He looks more like someone in need of a change of scenery at this point, as he doesn't appear to be in the Red Sox' long term plans after spending a second full season at AAA.
12. Colin Moran - Astros (AA)
Moran has hit really well over the past two months, posting a .326/.403/.525 slash line with all seven home runs he's hit this year. Moran isn't likely to be a high ceiling prospect, but should still be a starter in most formats that provides a high batting average with some decent power.
13. Jake Lamb - Diamondbacks (MLB - Graduate)
Lamb missed a fair amount of the season due to a foot injury, but has hit .265/.320/.412 with 5 home runs in 72 games played this year. He's been seeing more consistent playing time with Tomas moving primarily to right field, and could be a high average, decent power type capable of 15+ home runs a year with a full season of starts.
14. Gilbert Lara - Brewers (RK)
Lara has been playing in the Arizona Rookie League this year, where he is among the youngest players in the league at 17 this season. Lara has still been playing shortstop there, but is expected to have to move as he continues to mature and grow. He's a looooooooong way from the majors right now, but there's a ton of power potential that could develop.
15. Brandon Drury - Diamondbacks (AAA)
The Diamondbacks have been having Drury split his time this year between second base and third base, as they have struggled to get production from second base and have both Lamb and Tomas ahead of Drury on the depth chart long term. He's not really expected to provide a ton of power down the line, but rather some help with batting average, and would be a better fit at second base.
Potential Names for 2016's List
Matt Chapman - Athletics - The top draft pick of the A's last year, Chapman has hit 23 home runs in the friendly environs of the Cal League. He should be able to stay at third base long term, but may be a bit of a batting average risk along with the excellent power.
Jomar Reyes - Orioles - Reyes gets rave reviews about his abilities at the plate, which is good because they also seem to come with a strong expectation that he'll move to first base in the future as well. He's been in Low-A all season long, but has hit well for an 18-year old there.
Ke'Bryan Hayes - Pirates - A 2015 draftee with good lineage (he's the son of former major leaguer Charlie Hayes), Ke'Bryan can potentially be an impact hitter for both average and power down the line. He was drafted out of high school by the Pirates, so it could be four to five years before we see anything out of him in the big leagues.