Top 15 Third Base Prospects (2020 Preseason): Some Intriguing Names Whose Value Could Rise & More

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There are some bigger names among third base prospects, though that doesn’t make them sure things. Players like Ke’Bryan Hayes and Nolan Gorman have gotten a lot of publicity in the past, but that doesn’t mean that they are among the best prospects at the position. Who are the future elite? What under-the-radar names belong on your radar? Let’s take a look:

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RankingNameGradeTeam
1Nolan JonesA-Cleveland Indians
2Alex BohmB+Philadelphia Phillies
3Nolan GormanBSt. Louis Cardinals
4Jonathan IndiaBCincinnati Reds
5Isaac ParedesBDetroit Tigers
6Bobby DalbecBBoston Red Sox
7Abraham ToroBHouston Astros
8Brett BatyBNew York Mets
9Ke'Bryan HayesBPittsburgh Pirates
10Kody HoeseB-Los Angeles Dodgers
11Josh JungB-Texas Rangers
12Colton WeklerB-Colorado Rockies
13Elehuris MonteroB-St. Louis Cardinals
14Mark VientosB-New York Mets
15Miguel VargasC+Los Angeles Dodgers

1) Nolan Jones – Cleveland Indians
Grade – A-

Jones rarely gets the recognition of being one of the better prospects in the game, and that’s going to put him in the category of being significantly underrated.  Splitting time between High-A (324 PA) and Double-A (211 PA) he hit .272 with 15 HR, 63 RBI and 81 R, though there is no denying his knowledge of the strike zone:

  • Strikeout Rate – 27.7%
  • SwStr% – 8.8%
  • Walk Rate – 17.9%

The strikeout rate is due to his extreme patience (he has 185 walks over the past two years), and as he learns to get just a little bit more aggressive the power should rise and the strikeouts will regress.  He’s still 21-years old and should be able to develop 30+ HR power with a solid average and a potentially elite OBP.

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2) Alex Bohm – Philadelphia Phillies
Grade – B+

The 2018 first round pick thrived in his first full season of professional baseball, hitting .305 with 21 HR, 80 RBI and 76 R over 475 AB across three levels (including 63 games at Double-A).  While people will point towards the lack of power that he displayed last season, at 6’5” and 225 lbs and having added 34 additional extra base hits (30 doubles and 4 triples), it’s easy to envision the power continuing to develop.  To this point it’s possible that he’s sacrificed a little bit of his power in favor of his approach, which is likely his strongest skill:

  • Strikeouts – 13.5%
  • Walks – 10.6%
  • SwStr% – 7.7%

It’s a makeup that resembles that of Rhys Hoskins (at Triple-A in 2017 he posted a 15.8% strikeout rate, 13.5% walk rate and 6.3% SwStr%), and we know the type of instant impact he made.  Maybe Bohm doesn’t explode quite at that level, but as he matures don’t be surprised to see the power improve to go along with the potential for a strong average.

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3) Nolan Gorman – St. Louis Cardinals
Grade – B

The 2018 first round draft pick split time between Single-A and High-A, showing signs of the power that should continue to develop as he matures.  Over 456 AB he posted 51 extra base hits (30 doubles, 6 triples, 15 HR), but the problem is going to be whether or not he can make enough contact to tap into it.  Just look at the Strikeout Rate and SwStr% at each level last season:

  • Single-A – 28.0% // 14.5%
  • High-A – 31.7% // 17.7%

He won’t turn 20-years old until May, so we do have to give him time but those are scary numbers considering the levels.  The strikeout problem isn’t going to go away, and if he can’t keep it in check the power potential could prove meaningless.  This is going to be a key year, because he could either re-establish himself or completely fall off the prospect radar.

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4) Jonathan India – Cincinnati Reds
Grade – B

Selected fifth overall in 2018, India is on the fast-track as he saw time at High-A (367 PA) and Double-A (145 PA) and it isn’t out of the question that he arrives in the Majors late in ’20 (or in ’21).  He showed an ability to get on base consistently (11.5% walk rate), but there are questions across the board:

  • Power – .402 SLG (18 doubles, 5 triples, 11 HR)
  • Strikeouts – 21.5% strikeout rate (11.1% SwStr%)

He showed a better contact rate during his brief time at Double-A, with a 9.2% SwStr%, and he also had an impressive 15.2% walk rate.  The power did take a step backwards (6 extra base hits), but there’s raw power that he should learn how to tap into.  He also has a little bit of speed (11 SB) and has the makings of a 20/10 third baseman (with the potential for a little bit more power) with a solid average.

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5) Isaac Paredes – Detroit Tigers
Grade – B

He got 155 PA at Double-A in 2018 before spending the entire season there in ’19 (552 PA).  That’s a lot of data to work with, and it helps to show how impressive of an approach he already has:

  • Strikeout Rate – 11.7%
  • SwStr% – 4.6%
  • Walk Rate – 10.7%

He’s struck out (83) nearly as much as he walked (76), so the question is more regarding how much power he’s going to ultimately develop.  He showed a little bit of upside last season (23 doubles, 1 triple, 13 HR), though that doesn’t profile as a 30+ HR threat.  He could be a 20+ HR hitter, though, and with his approach that should play well at the highest level.  There is a question on where his defensive future is, and it’s possible he’s ultimately a first baseman.

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6) Bobby Dalbec – Boston Red Sox
Grade –
 B

Splitting time between Double and Triple-A he struggled to hit for a strong average (.239), but showed plenty of power as he slugged 27 HR.  It’s interesting that the strikeout rate actually improved as he moved up in competition:

  • Double-A – 25.1%
  • Triple-A – 23.6%

Overall he posted a 13.9% SwStr%, which was a significant improvement over his 2018 mark (15.7%).  It’s still not a great number, and it also regressed upon reaching Triple-A (15.8%), but it shows a promising development that would allow him to hit .250+ with 30+ HR.  Dalbec will likely start the year at Triple-A and how he adjusts there will tell us just how high the ceiling can be.

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7) Abraham Toro – Houston Astros
Grade – B

Splitting time between Double and Triple-A, as well as ultimately making his MLB debut, Toro was impressive hitting .324 with 17 HR over 442 AB in the minor leagues.  Overall he showed a good approach, with a 16.0% strikeout rate and 11.3% walk rate, and he improved after being promoted:

  • Double-A (435 PA) – 17.7% strikeout rate, 11.0% walk rate
  • Triple-A (79 PA) – 6.3% strikeout rate, 12.7% walk rate
  • Majors (89 PA) – 21.3% strikeout rate, 10.1% walk rate

Even in the Majors, despite the spike in strikeouts, he posted an impressive 7.6% SwStr% and 28.7% O-Swing%.  Clearly he wasn’t overmatched, and there also is a little bit more pop in his bat to tap into as he gets more aggressive (he had 17 HR in the minors, though added 31 doubles and 4 triples).  He’s 22-years old so there’s still time, and while he may ultimately be used as trade bait the upside is there.

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8) Brett Baty – New York Mets
Grade – B

The Mets’ first round pick in 2019, you have to wonder if part of the reason he was selected there was to save in their bonus pool to give them the money to sign Matt Allen later on (Baty signed for under slot value).  Baty was seen as older for a high school prospect, and the lack of experience was obvious as he posted a 28.5% strikeout rate courtesy of a 15.8% SwStr%.  That said he also displayed patience, with an impressive 15.4% walk rate, and that speaks to a much better approach that should allow him to post at least a solid average (think .260-.270).  Couple that with his power potential, which is his obvious carrying tool after posting 25 extra base hits in just 228 PA (16 doubles, 2 triples and 7 HR) and there’s obvious potential.  Whether he can stick at 3B remains to be seen, though his bat will play at 1B as well (though with Pete Alonso in place, that could ultimately make him a trade candidate down the line).

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9) Ke’Bryan Hayes – Pittsburgh Pirates
Grade – B

Hayes showed a solid command of the strike zone, with a 7.5% SwStr% in 492 PA spent mostly at Triple-A (480 PA).  While the rest of the league was showing a surge in power, he did not as he managed 10 HR (to go along with 30 doubles and 2 triples).  He does have some speed, swiping 12 bases, and he’s generally shown an ability to draw some walks.  That said is there enough to truly grab our attention?

For now his defense and bloodlines (he’s the son of Charlie Hayes) remains the best selling points.  There’s hope that he could add power, and the doubles show it’s not impossible, though we need to start to see it before it becomes too late.

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10) Kody Hoese – Los Angeles Dodgers
Grade – B-

Selected 25th overall in the 2019 draft, Hoese spent a lot of time at Single-A (103 PA) and presented himself well hitting .264 with 2 HR and 16 RBI.  The more important number was his 13.6% strikeout rate, and overall he posted a 9.9% SwStr%.  For his first taste of professional baseball, and with a somewhat aggressive assignment, that’s a solid mark.

He was “older”, being drafted at 21-years old (he turned 22 in July), but that shouldn’t take anything away from his success.  There also should be plenty of power for him to tap into, as he totaled 8 doubles, 2 triples and 5 HR over 171 PA overall.  Think of him as a potential .275/25 HR type threat, and while some question his ability to stay at the hot corner the upside would also play at first base if a move is deemed necessary.

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11) Josh Jung – Texas Rangers
Grade – B-

Jung was selected eighth overall in the 2019 draft, and in his first taste of professional baseball he appeared to be approach over power (198 PA):

  • Strikeout Rate – 16.2%
  • Walk Rate – 9.1%
  • SwStr% – 10.9%

He played at 21-years old (he turned 22 in February) and the hope is that he’ll develop power as he continues to develop.  However he didn’t show it after being selected, hitting just 2 HR (though he did add 14 doubles and 1 triple), so it’ll be interesting to see if he can add that to his game.  He’ll need to, regardless if he sticks at third base or not, if he wants to develop into a truly viable fantasy option.

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12) Colton Welker – Colorado Rockies
Grade – B-

While there have been rumors of a potential Nolan Arenado trade, for now he remains in Colorado with a long-term contract in hand.  That means Welker will either have to move positions or be traded if he is to make it to the Majors, and the transition to first base started in 2019 as he played 27 games there at Double-A.

While he only it .252 over his 394 PA, he did show power potential (23 doubles, 1 triple and 10 HR) and a solid approach:

  • Strikeout Rate – 17.3%
  • Walk Rate – 8.1%
  • SwStr% – 9.9%

Of course none of those numbers are going to blow you away and there are questions as to how much power he’ll ultimately hit for (there are reports that he started trying to hit for power last season, making the mediocre results that much more concerning).

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13) Elehuris Montero – St. Louis Cardinals
Grade – B-

There was some hype behind Montero heading into 2019 and he “rewarded” us by hitting .188 with 7 HR over 238 PA at Double-A.  He struggled with a poor approach, posting a 31.1% strikeout rate and 5.9% walk rate courtesy of a monstrous 19.5% SwStr%.  Maybe the Cardinals were a little too aggressive with the 20-year old (he turned 21 in August), considering he had spent just 106 PA at High-A, and two separate injuries cost him significant time.  He should repeat the level and has the potential to figure it out with health and experience.  Now isn’t the time to write him off.

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14) Mark Vientos – New York Mets
Grade – B-

There was a bit of hype surrounding Vientos heading into ’19 but he fell flat at Single-A hitting .255 with 12 HR over 454 PA.  The biggest concern was his 16.0% SwStr%, which led to a 24.2% strikeout rate and poor 4.8% walk rate.  At 19-years old he does still have time to develop, and he should be able to turn a corner in terms of both his power and average.  Just stay patient and as he matures and isn’t overmatched in terms of his age, he should be able to put things together.

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15) Miguel Vargas – Los Angeles Dodgers
Grade – C+

Vargas played 2019 at 19-years old (he turned 20 in November) and split his time nearly evenly between Single-A and High-A, combining to hit .308 with 7 HR and 13 SB.  While the powerl isn’t impressive, consider his age and the fact that he added 38 doubles and 3 triples.  As he matures and gets physically stronger it’s easy to envision some of those extra base hits starting to carry over the fence.  He also brings a solid approach, with a 9.6% SwStr% leading to a 14.8% strikeout rate and 9.8% walk rate.  He’s not fast so don’t let the stolen base total impact your outlook, but there’s a lot to like in the profile.

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Sources – Fangraphs, MILB.com, MLB.com

Make sure to check out all of our 2020 prospect rankings:

AL EastAL CentralAL West
Baltimore OriolesChicago White SoxHouston Astros
Boston Red SoxCleveland IndiansLos Angeles Angels
New York YankeesDetroit TigersOakland A's
Tampa Bay RaysKansas City RoyalsSeattle Mariners
Toronto Blue JaysMinnesota TwinsTexas Rangers
NL EastNL CentralNL West
Atlanta BravesChicago CubsArizona Diamondbacks
Miami MarlinsCincinnati RedsColorado Rockies
New York MetsMilwaukee BrewersLos Angeles Dodgers
Philadelphia PhilliesPittsburgh PiratesSan Diego Padres
Washington NationalsSt. Louis CardinalsSan Francisco Giants

2 COMMENTS

  1. Don’t know why but this isn’t a particularly exciting bunch to me. Speculatively, I believe Noelvi Marte from Seattle will move to 3B. His upside is far higher than any of these guys, IMO.

    • As a whole I don’t disagree, but I’m a big fan of Nolan Jones. I could see him making a significant impact this season for sure

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