Prospect Watch: Top 10 third basemen
Twins' Sano claims No. 1 spot for second straight year; Cubs' Bryant ranks No. 2
MLBPipeline.com's 2014 Top 100 Prospects list will be unveiled on Thursday on MLB.com, as well as on a one-hour show on MLB Network, airing at 10 p.m. ET. Leading up to that, MLBPipeline.com takes a look at baseball's top 10 prospects at each position.
There are three holdovers from the 2013 list of Top 10 third-base prospects, with one of them -- the Twins' Miguel Sano -- holding the top spot for a second year. The 2013 First-Year Player Draft contributed to the replenishing of the rankings, with four from that class hitting this Top 10. After some years of being a relatively weak spot prospect-wise, third base has become much deeper in talent.
1. Miguel Sano, Twins: There isn't a player in the Minor Leagues with more raw power than Sano, who has been one of the most-watched prospects since he signed with Minnesota in 2009. The exciting thing is that the power has been consistent almost from the get-go, and he was one of four prospects to hit 30 or more homers and drive in more than 100 runs in 2013. Yes, there's some swing-and-miss in his game, but he's a better overall hitter than many think. Some believe he'll eventually have to change positions, but with that bat, who cares?
2. Kris Bryant, Cubs: It's difficult to imagine how Bryant could have done anything different during his pro debut, as he hit nine homers and slugged .688 in 36 games, helped Class A Advanced Daytona win the Florida State League title and took home Arizona Fall League Most Valuable Player honors. Adding up college, his pro debut and the AFL, Bryant hit 46 homers last year. There's work to be done at third, but if he can't stick there, he's shown he can play right field well. His bat should keep him on a fast track to Chicago.
3. Nick Castellanos, Tigers: He was a third baseman, then he was an outfielder, now he's a third baseman again, and a regular big league job at the hot corner is his for the taking. The 2012 Futures Game MVP has been one of the better pure hitters in the Minor Leagues, one who should continue to hit for average. The extra-base power started to come more consistently in 2013, and he should develop more pop as he matures. He'll have to readjust to the infield, but all signs point to that not being a major stumbling block.
4. Maikel Franco, Phillies: Franco, one of those four prospects with 30 or more homers and 100 or more RBIs in 2013, shot up the prospect rankings. The 21-year-old has all the makings of a prototypical run-producing corner infielder, one who should hit for enough average with a ton of power. He's more than fine at third base, but with Cody Asche's ascension to the big leagues, Franco saw time at first as well, just in case his right-handed power bat is needed there.
grading the prospects
5. Colin Moran, Marlins: The nephew of former No. 1 overall Draft pick and 19-year Major League veteran B.J. Surhoff, Moran was taken No. 6 in the 2013 Draft and made a solid pro debut that included a stint in the Arizona Fall League. Moran is an advanced hitter, one who shouldn't take too much time to reach Miami. He doesn't quite have the power profile of some of the others above him on this list, but he should have enough pop to be an everyday third baseman.
6. Garin Cecchini, Red Sox: The Red Sox went over slot to sign Cecchini after taking him in the fourth round of the 2010 Draft. He didn't play pro ball that year because of a torn ACL in his right knee, but he's since shown why Boston took him so high, hitting his way up the organizational ladder. Cecchini has an advanced approach at the plate that allowed him to lead the Minors in on-base percentage (.443) in 2013. He may end up being more of a high-average type than a huge power guy, but his instincts allow all of his tools to play up.
7. Matt Davidson, White Sox: Davidson had quite a 2013, winning Futures Game MVP honors as well as the Triple-A Home Run Derby. Then he was traded by the D-backs to the White Sox for reliever Addison Reed and immediately became the favorite to be Chicago's Opening Day third baseman. His best tool is his power, and he's gotten better at tapping into it more consistently, though there will always be some miss in his swing. He's not a great defender, but he should be just fine long-term.
8. D.J. Peterson, Mariners: Peterson lived up to his college reputation as an offensive performer by hitting 13 homers and posting a .918 OPS during his pro debut before being hit in the face with a pitch late in the summer. The No. 12 pick in the 2013 Draft should continue to hit for both average and power as he progresses quickly through the Seattle system. His defense doesn't profile as well, but even if he has to move to first base, his bat should play just fine there.
9. Joey Gallo, Rangers: The 2013 Minor League leaderboard tells you much of what you need to know about Gallo. He topped all Minor Leaguers with 40 homers and finished in the top five in slugging (.623). He also finished in the top 10 in strikeouts (172). He might match Sano in terms of raw power, but the question is: Can he cut down on the misses and consistently tap into that power? A former two-way player who touched the upper 90s from the mound, he has more arm strength than anyone on this list.
10. Hunter Dozier, Royals: A bit of a surprise pick at No. 8 in the 2013 Draft, Dozier was a shortstop at Stephen F. Austin State but moved to third base upon the start of his pro career. If his debut was any indication, the Royals were shrewd to take him, and not just because it allowed them to select left-hander Sean Manaea later in the Draft. Dozier has the potential to hit for average and power (.308/.397/.495 in his debut) with a very good approach at the plate. He was too big to stay at shortstop, but his actions should play very well at the hot corner.
While Ryan McMahon of the Rockies played quarterback at a high school known as Quarterback High (Mater Dei), baseball was his best sport, and the Rockies took him in the second round of the 2013 Draft. One of the youngest players in the Pioneer League, he promptly went out and hit .321/.402/.583, leaving many eager to see what he does in his first full season.
Eric Jagielo is another third baseman from the 2013 Draft, taken by the Yankees out of Notre Dame in the first round, 16 spots ahead of McMahon. Jagielo is an advanced college hitter with the ability to hit for average and power, and his left-handed swing might look really good in Yankee Stadium.