Third base may not be quite as deep on terms of currently high level prospects as shortstop, but it’s not far behind with a slew of intriguing B and B- prospects who could take the next step this season. Throw in the presence of Vladimir Guerrero Jr., the elite prospect in the game, and it’s an impressive group of prospects. Who are those on the rise? Who should be on your radar? Let’s take a look:
|Rank||Player||Current Team||Current Grade|
|1.||Vladimir Guerrero Jr.||Toronto Blue Jays||A|
|2.||Nick Senzel||Cincinnati Reds||A|
|3.||Nolan Gorman||St. Louis Cardinals||B+|
|4.||Alec Bohm||Philadelphia Phillies||B+|
|5.||Colten Welker||Colorado Rockies||B+|
|6.||Ke'Bryan Hayes||Pittsburgh Pirates||B|
|7,||Nolan Jones||Cleveland Indians||B|
|8.||Jonathan India||Cincinnati Reds||B|
|9.||Michael Chavis||Boston Red Sox||B|
|10.||Mark Vientos||New York Mets||B-|
|11.||Elehuris Montero||St. Louis Cardinals||B-|
|12.||Tyler Nevin||Colorado Rockies||B-|
|13.||Jordan Groshans||Toronto Blue Jays||B-|
|14.||Austin Riley||Atlanta Braves||B-|
|15.||Ryan Mountcastle||Baltimore Orioles||B-|
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. – Grade – A
The questions for Guerrero aren’t if he will arrive in 2019 or how good he will be when he makes his MLB debut. Instead it’s how early the Blue Jays will summon him, as it is assumed that he’s going to flourish immediately. Considering these numbers from 2018 it is hard to argue against it:
- Double-A (234 AB) – .402 with 14 HR and 60 RBI
- Triple-A (110 AB) – .336 with 6 HR and 16 RBI
He also had 13 AB between Rookie Ball and High-A, ultimately hitting .381 with 20 HR and 78 RBI over 357 AB while walking (37) nearly as much as he struck out (38). Of course there was a little bit of luck (.378 BABIP), there’s the risk that the strikeouts rise (9.9% SwStr%) and there’s no guarantee that the rebuilding Blue Jays, who stand little chance to compete in ’19, push Guerrero to the Majors quickly.
All that is said just to temper your expectations, at least a little bit. There is no arguing how good Guerrero is, as he’s among the premier prospects in the game and should arrive and make an impact in short order.
Nick Senzel – Grade – A
Last year was supposed to be the season that he rose to the Majors, but injuries helped to limit him (171 AB) and there are questions as to where he’ll fit in the Majors. The latter is a good problem for the organization, and one that should ultimately sort itself out.
When on the field Senzel continued to show his value with the bat, hitting .310 with 6 HR and 8 SB. He added 12 doubles and 2 triples, showing his power potential, and his 10.2% SwStr% and 25.4% line drive rate at Triple-A helps to show his ability to handle the bat. There’s no questioning his upside and he could profile as a .290 hitter with 30+ HR and the ability to chip in 10+ SB. He needs to prove capable of staying on the field, and once he does he’s going to make an impact.
3) Nolan Gorman – Grade – B+
Selected 19th overall in the 2018 draft, Gorman posted a solid debut season hitting .291 with 17 HR over 237 AB as he split time between Rookie Ball and Single-A. Of course the numbers tumbled a bit after his promotion, though that shouldn’t come as a big surprise as it was an aggressive advancement for an 18-year old. The problem seemed to be focused around the long ball, as he appeared to be swinging for the fences:
- Strikeout Rate – 22.2% at Rookie Ball, 36.4% at Single-A
- Flyball Rate – 48.0% at Rookie Ball, 61.1% at Single-A
- Pull Rate – 41.0% at Rookie Ball, 48.2% at Single-A
There’s no questioning the power potential, though in time we’d anticipate him learning how to balance that ability with a better approach. Give him time, but the upside is obvious.
Alec Bohm – Grade – B+
Selected third overall in 2018 out of college, Bohm has the potential to move quickly through Philadelphia’s system. He didn’t quite live up to the billing in his first taste of professional baseball, hitting .252 with 0 HR. However he did show a strong approach, with a 7.0% SwStr%, and it’s very possible that he simply tired after playing a full college season. There is no questioning his approach and at 6’5” and 225 lbs. there is power potential that he should be able to tap into. It was too small of a sample size to read much into and don’t be surprised if he establishes himself quickly in 2019.
Colton Welker – Grade – B+
Welker played the year at High-A hitting .333 with ample power potential. While he managed just 13 HR over 454 AB, he added 32 doubles and with further maturation, added strength and learning to pull pitches a little bit more (38.6% Oppo%) it’s easy to imagine some of the doubles starting to clear the fences. Maybe he’s not a 30 HR hitter, though in Coors Field seeing him reach 25+ isn’t a stretch.
Now pair that a solid approach, which is impressive at his age. You can argue that there was a little bit too much swing and miss (11.3%), especially since that mark could rise as he moves up against more advanced pitching. However his willingness to use the entire field and ability to hit the ball hard (26.4% line drive rate) trump that risk, especially since he played the year at 20-years old.
Where Welker fits in Colorado is also a question, though with his bat that should work itself out. Maybe he shifts across to first base, and he did appear in 6 games there last season, but his bat could easily play.
6) Ke’Bryan Hayes – Grade – B
The question for Hayes is if he’s going to be able to follow the Josh Bell blueprint, developing more power as he advances. Right now there’s no questioning his approach, as he hit .293 to go along with a 16.5% strikeout rate and 11.2% walk rate while playing at Double-A. Couple those numbers with a 5.9% SwStr% and it’s easy to envision a player who can push .300 with a strong OBP.
However he only managed to hit 7 HR last season, and while he added 31 doubles and 7 triples at 21-years old there’s obviously going to be a little bit of concern. If he can start to tap into his power a little bit more (think reaching the 17-20 HR plateau), to go along with a little bit of speed (he stole 12 bases in ’18, down from 27 in ’17), the value is there.
Nolan Jones – Grade – B
The left-handed hitter continues to develop, as the 20-year old split time between Single-A and High-A to hit .283 with 19 HR and 66 RBI over 427 AB. The obvious question is going to be his ability to make consistent contact as he continues to advance, with a 25.2% strikeout rate (26.2% after his promotion to High-A). However the other numbers indicate a great approach and a better strikeout rate coming:
- SwStr% – 10.1%
- Walk Rate – 17.1%
At 6’4” and 185 lbs. the power should continue to blossom as he matures, and with a strikeout rate that should also improve he could put it all together at any time. The heir apparent at third base for Cleveland could fly a little bit under the radar, but it won’t be long before he fully emerges. While we are conservative with the grade currently, he could rise to a B+ quickly (and maybe even an A- by year’s end).
Jonathan India – Grade – B
The fifth overall selection in 2018, India hit .240 with 6 HR and 6 SB over 150 AB. Adding 9 doubles and 1 triple, that has to get you excited about the power potential and a 15.2% walk rate and 23.3% line drive rate help to show his strong approach at the plate. We’ll have to watch his 12.2% SwStr%, though it was his first taste of professional baseball and the expectation is that he’ll be able to improve in that regard as he settles in and adjusts. The potential is there for him to move quickly and truly develop into a strong prospect. He’s a borderline B+ prospect already.
Michael Chavis – Grade – B
A year ago the outlook for Chavis would’ve looked a lot different, though an 80-game suspension for PED puts a little bit of a red flag over his head. This time last year he was coming off a 31 HR campaign, hitting .282 between High-A and Double-A. Of course he also had swing and miss to his game, and that’s something that continued (SwStr%):
- 2017 – 15.5%
- 2018 – 13.3%
Sure there was an “improvement”, but he still carried a 26.8% strikeout rate and there are now questions as to how real the power surge was. Can he continue to hit for that much power? Was it fueled by the PED? It’s something that will hopefully get answered in 2019, though he likely will never be more than a B+ prospect thanks to his strikeout risk.
Mark Vientos – Grade – B-
A second round pick in 2017, Vientos hit .287 with 11 HR over 223 AB at Rookie Ball last season. There’s no questioning the power potential, and set to play the season at 19-years old there’s plenty of time for him to learn and develop his approach (11.2% SwStr%). That said a 14.1% walk rate shows that he has patience, so as he continues to develop and further tap into his power the upside is clearly there.
11) Elehuris Montero – Grade – B-
He split time between Single-A (382 AB) and High-A (98 AB), hitting .315 with 16 HR and 82 RBI. By adding 37 doubles and 3 triples there’s clearly some thunder in his bat, though a 15.0% SwStr% is a significant red flag. That’s something that’s going to have to be monitored very closely, because his 19.4% strikeout rate could obviously regress significantly against more advanced pitching (20.8% at High-A). Keep that in mind before going all in, but the power is real and with any refinement in his approach would go a very long way.
12) Tyler Nevin – Grade – B-
The son of Phil Nevin, Tyler played the year at High-A and put up some impressive numbers (.328 with 13 HR and 62 RBI over 378 AB). The question is going to be whether or not he can fully develop his power, or if he is going to be more of an 18-23 HR type instead settling for a slew of doubles (25). He did show a good idea at the plate (10.1% SwStr%), but let’s see how the numbers/production translate to Double-A.
Jordan Groshans – Grade – B-
Groshans was selected in the first round of the 2018 draft (12th overall), hitting .296 with 5 HR (as well as 13 doubles) over 186 AB. That’s going to be his carrying skill, and something that should be there, as long as he can keep the strikeouts in check. Obviously we aren’t going to put too much stock in his mark from last season, considering it was his first taste of professional baseball (and a relatively small sample), but a 14.2% SwStr% will be something that needs to be monitored closely.
14) Austin Riley – Grade – B-
The days of viewing Riley as the next third baseman for Atlanta may have come and gone, as the team clearly has questions about his upside after they signed Josh Donaldson this offseason. While he split time between Double and Triple-A in 2018, with a 29.3% strikeout rate over 324 PA at the highest level is definitely a scary number (as is his 14.4% SwStr% overall). There is power there, but he’s yet to fully realize it (12 HR at Triple-A, 19 HR over 408 AB overall). If he can tap into that the outlook will change, but for now his value is limited.
Ryan Mountcastle – Grade – B-
Playing at Double-A Mountcastle hit .297 with 13 HR over 394 AB. He showed improvement in his walk rate, though a 6.1% mark isn’t going to excite anyone. Couple that with an extremely aggressive approach, with a 14.2% SwStr%, and his ability to hit for even a solid average will be called into question.
There is some power, but you have to wonder if that will be enough.
Sources – Fangraphs, MLB.com, MILB.com, Baseball Reference
Make sure to check out all of our 2019 Top 10 Prospect Lists: