by Ivar G. Anderson
Last week, I talked about three starting pitchers that have the potential to be solid rotation options in the next year or two. This week we shift our focus to three third base candidates who are tagged as compelling prospects with a possibility to see the big leagues at the end of this season, or perhaps 2015.
Colin Moran 3B MIA
The 21-year old former Tar Heel was the 6th overall pick in the 2013 draft by the Marlins. He has landed in a good spot, as the Miami third base situation is wide open for a good, young hitter. Moran projects out as more of a gap hitter than a pure power guy, but he did manage to pound out four HR in just 154 AB in his first professional season, as well as posting a .299/.354/.442 slash line in Low-A Greensboro.
He continues to demonstrate the superb plate discipline that he exhibited in his college career at North Carolina, and as a plus has a strong arm which will help keep him at third base (although he only has average range). The Marlins like to promote their prospects so he could be in the majors by 2015, despite beginning 2014 back at Greensboro. He also is currently sitting idle on the DL, with a medial meniscus sprain (left knee), but should be promoted to High-A Jupiter once he is back on the field.
He projects out to be a third baseman that possesses average power, very good run production and a high batting average.
Cheslor Cuthbert 3B KC
Cuthbert began 2013 at High-A Wilmington, but was soon promoted to Double-A NW Arkansas as a result of his strong performance in all aspects of his game. He showed more power and better plate discipline. All his gains abandoned the young Nicaraguan, save for the power boost, but he has rebounded nicely this season in a decidedly small sample size of 42 AB.
Part of his struggles at Double-A can be attributed to an unlucky .246 BABIP, which can be expected to normalize. He only projects as a mid-level power hitter, however, and thus is not a prototypical third baseman, which hurts his value if he becomes more of a utility infielder. His hitting style involves spraying the ball to all fields, which when coupled with his expected plate discipline and excellent hand-eye coordination, would presage a decent batting average. His power right now is evidenced more by gap doubles than balls sailing over the fences, but he is young and could still develop more power.
Even if he only hits 10-15 HR per season, he has value as a prospect with a high ceiling and an acceptable floor. His defense is solid, and he has a strong arm that allows for him making all the throws at third (but he does lack speed and thus has only average range). If his early success this season continues, expect a promotion to Triple-A, and then a possible call up in September followed by a chance to strut his stuff in the spring in 2015 and potentially join the Royals on the trip north.
Corey Seager SS/3B LAD
The younger brother of current Seattle Mariner Kyle Seager, Corey possesses the higher ceiling of the two siblings. Although he has been playing mostly at short, his skill set has most observers predicting a move to the hot corner in his future, and as his best opportunity to move to the big leagues. He has good hands and a strong arm which will serve him well at third base.
In Single-A ball, Seager has demonstrated plus bat speed and a propensity to make hard contact with balls in the zone. He not only demonstrates good plate discipline with a walk rate trending above 10% in his professional career but also raw power, although his strikeout rate also trended upward with his promotion to High-A Rancho Cucamonga (I must go there someday, just so I can say the name of the town over and over in context). The consensus is that he is still growing into his power, as he has demonstrated by pounding out 16 homers in 2013 in 372 AB.
Assuming the power continues to develop, he could be a middle of the order corner infielder, who also could hit for a high average as well as drive in a significant number of runs. With him starting the season at High-A don’t expect him to make the major leagues this season. However, with the Dodgers’ third base situation you have to believe they will bring him along as quickly as seems prudent to get his bat into the lineup and his defense onto the infield. I would not be shocked for him to make the big club come 2015, and now would be a fine time to target him in your keeper or dynasty leagues.
Third base is perennially a roster slot that empties quickly in drafts, and then you have injuries that kick you in the teeth as well. You would be wise to keep the three players above on your future draft cheat sheet, as all of them project out as potential values at corner infield, if not third base.
I am always available to talk fantasy baseball, especially starting pitching and prospects. Feel free to drop me a note with any questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org and inquire about your team. Just remember the advice is free and you get what you pay for in this day and age.