Ahhh… the Hot Corner! Teams have come to expect 3B bat in the middle of the order, hit HRs and knock in runs. You need quick reaction time, slick glove and a strong arm to really “play” the position well, but many teams have chosen to “take a hit” defensively in order to get the big bat in the lineup.
The trend these days seem to be that the best athletes are playing shortstop as amateurs and if their body-type changes or develop plus power, the are converted to 3B at some point during their minor league career or in the Major Leagues once their approach is fully developed. Because of this, the hot corner has, in my opinion, the weakest overall prospect group waiting in the wings. After the first two on the list, the rest of the group is made up of average/platoon type players and deep developmental guys that have a long time before they will be ready for the Majors. We may see future studs at 3B if guys like Correa, Seager, Rogers and/or Bregman shift over there as some have projected.
As for now, we will look at those who are currently penciled in at 3B.
Tier 1 — Elite Level Prospect
These players have the tools to be perennial All-Stars and franchise type players.
Tier 2 — Potential All-Star and Top 100 Future Player
These players have one or two potential plus tools and should be solid starters with an occasional All-Star appearance the ceiling.
Tier 3 — Future MLB Starter
These players are likely MLB regular positional starters and back of the rotation guys that should be solid contributors.
Tier 4 — Future Depth Players
These are deep league and large format leagues only. They are either 5+ years away from the Major Leagues or only project to be platoon/spot starters.
***All Stat Tables Courtesy of Fangraphs
Rafael Devers (Red Sox)
Tools: Plus Power, Plus Hit
|2014||Red Sox (R)||42||174||4||21||36||1||8.0 %||17.2 %||.172||.363||.312||.374||.484||.405||146|
|2014||Red Sox (R)||28||128||3||26||21||4||16.4 %||15.6 %||.202||.386||.337||.445||.538||.467||176|
|2015||Red Sox (A)||115||508||11||71||70||3||4.7 %||16.5 %||.156||.326||.288||.329||.443||.352||118|
So many reading this article may be surprised that Devers is listed ahead of Gallo. Again, this list wasn’t designed to be a 1-10 rankings list, but tiered rankings that can help you evaluate prospects to target in whatever type of league you play. If you are playing redraft, Devers doesn’t get drafted. There is no way he reaches Boston in 2016. In deeper keeper leagues with MiLB rosters, you want Devers now as a stash, but Gallo may have more value if you are ready to compete this season. In dynasty leagues, I believe Devers has more value than Gallo long term, especially if you play categories leagues as he won’t hurt you where Gallo likely will depending on the actual categories used in your league.
Why am I so high on a 19-year-old with only two seasons of pro ball under his belt? Because he has played against older competition both seasons and excelled. He has already shown plus power and his “in-game” power will develop with experience. He has terrific plate control for a teenager. Although he is aggressive, he makes contact (82.1% contact rate in 2015) and can hit pitches he gets fooled on. He hits a ton of hard line drives because his swing is very level, but as his body continues to develop and he adjusts his swing to give some lift, the “in-game” power will follow to the tune of 25-30 HRs per season. Due to his advanced approach to the plate, his hit tool should translate to the Major Leagues as well. I could see him hit 30/100/.290 in his prime years. If he would take a few more pitches and draw a few walks, he would be the ultimate three-hole hitter.
The question is, when will we see him show off his goods in Fenway? Some scouts and experts believe he will “outgrow” 3B and move over to 1B. If this is the case, this will be a long ways down the road. I put his ETA at 2018 to stay, however, we may see him in mid to late 2017 if there are any significant injuries to Panda or HanRam. Thanks to those two albatross contracts, he likely won’t see regular at bats until Boston begins to ease back on Ramirez’s appearances so his 2019 vesting option doesn’t kick in. I would expect at some point early to mid 2018, Devers come up as the every day 3B and Pablo and HanRam platoon at 1B if they are both even healthy. Despite being a switch-hitter, Panda is better against righties. Regardless of how the Red Sox choose to it, stash Devers now if your rosters will allow it and reap the rewards in a few years when everyone is harassing you to try and acquire him.
Joey Gallo (Rangers)
Tools: Plus-Plus Power, Plus Arm
|2012||Rangers (R)||43||193||18||44||43||6||19.2 %||26.9 %||.440||.313||.293||.435||.733||.491||183|
|2012||Rangers (A-)||16||67||4||9||9||0||16.4 %||38.8 %||.250||.308||.214||.343||.464||.366||124|
|2013||Rangers (R)||5||21||2||4||10||1||9.5 %||33.3 %||.526||.500||.368||.429||.895||.574||243|
|2013||Rangers (A)||106||446||38||82||78||14||10.8 %||37.0 %||.365||.305||.245||.334||.610||.418||163|
|2014||Rangers (A+)||58||246||21||53||50||5||20.7 %||26.0 %||.413||.370||.323||.463||.735||.510||221|
|2014||Rangers (AA)||68||291||21||44||56||2||12.4 %||39.5 %||.292||.322||.232||.334||.524||.381||141|
|2015||Rangers (AA)||34||146||9||21||31||1||16.4 %||33.6 %||.322||.453||.314||.425||.636||.464||192|
|2015||Rangers (AAA)||53||228||14||20||32||1||11.8 %||39.5 %||.255||.258||.195||.289||.450||.321||90|
|2015||Rangers||36||123||6||16||14||3||12.2 %||46.3 %||.213||.356||.204||.301||.417||.305||85|
With an 80 grade power tool, Gallo profiles to be an elite slugger in this league. Everyone that pays any attention to fantasy baseball knows about this guy. He made a splash when debuted last summer when Adrian Beltre went down with an injury. The Rangers took a chance that he would be ready to hit Major League pitcher since he has been averaging over 50 HRs per 162 games throughout his pro career. He also struck out over 1/3 of his plate appearances which could turn out to be a historic pace in the Majors. Gallo has good plate discipline as evidence by his excellent BB%, but his swing mechanics seem to be his primary obstacle to making better contact (56.7% contact rate in 2015).
It seems the Rangers still consider him their future 3B and Beltre’s heir apparent whose contract expires at the end of this season. His plus arm projects well at 3B or corner outfield. His glove and footwork at the position should be good enough to get by. I would not be surprised though to see him in a few years playing RF next to Lew Brinson and Nomar Mazara. That could be a lethal OF combo comparable if not better than the Pirates current OF confirguration (Marte, McCutchen, Polanco). He won’t get called up to DH unless Fielder gets hurt (who is under contract through 2020). The signing of Ike Davis leads me to believe the are going to keep Mitch Moreland in LF thus no room for Gallo to start the year. This could be a good thing so he can get regular work in at AAA.
Ultimately, Gallo worth a late round flier in redraft leagues and mid-round picks in deep keeper leagues. Unless you are in a startup dynasty league, he is already going to be rostered in 100% of dynasty leagues. I’m not saying he won’t figure out his swing and cut back on his strikouts. He could hit 40 HRs, bat .240 and have 200 Ks annually. For me, this is not someone I’m going to overpay to acquire. In fact, I’m seller in all dynasty formats. His name recognition can bring back a haul this season. Once he is entrenched in the Majors, his value likely goes down if he becomes a true 3 outcome player. He will either hit a homerun, strikeout or walk nearly every plate appearence.
Ryan McMahon (Rockies)
Tools: Plus Power, Above Avg. Arm
|2013||Rockies (R)||59||251||11||42||52||4||11.2 %||23.5 %||.261||.396||.321||.402||.583||.429||147|
|2014||Rockies (A)||126||552||18||93||102||8||9.8 %||25.9 %||.220||.360||.282||.358||.502||.386||137|
|2015||Rockies (A+)||132||556||18||85||75||6||8.8 %||27.5 %||.220||.401||.300||.372||.520||.388||141|
McMahon is the only 3b prospect in my Tier 2, and this is a generous ranking. Honestly, I’m giving him plus power tool, but I’m not sure that will translate to the Major Leagues unless he gets to play at Coors. However, despite being in the Rockies organization, they have this guy named Nolan Arenado. He is a 24 year old perennial All-Star under club control until at least 2019.
McMahon should contribute offensively for fantasy owners in the future but the future power might be more like 20 per season with 80 RBI and .260 avg. These are solid numbers of an everyday player if you don’t have a stud already playing your position. More than likely the Rockies will use him as trade bait especially since he is about a year or year and a half away. Either way, he will not reach his full potential unless he takes a few more walks and cuts down on this strikeouts. He has hit for average in the minors, but I don’t think that will translate at the Major League level unless he can shorten his swing and make better contact than his 2015 stat of 69.2%. He’s not on the radar for 2016 so redrafts can pass on him completely. Dynasty leagues should keep on radar if your minor league rosters are deep enough or you are in a large format league (24-30 teams).
Brandon Drury (Diamond Backs)
Drury is a nice player that will likely be a better actual MLB player than fantasy contributor. He has good contact rate and will get on base, but he doesn’t project to have much power at the top level, but could reach 10-12 in a season if plays every day. Unless he’s traded, he might not stick at 3B if they want to bring him up. He is an above average defensive 3B but offensively projects more as a 2B. If Nick Ahmed doesn’t hit enough to run out on the field every day, you might see Arizona move newly acquired Jean Segura back to SS and bring up Drury to man the keystone. He could get on base and score enough runs to have some value in deep leagues.
Renato Nunez (Athletics)
Nunez is a power hitter that will make good contact. He won’t take many walks and likely won’t hit over .250 in the Majors. He has improved his contact (82.7% contact rate and 15.9% K rate in 2015) and his power potential is 25+ HRs per season. He might be too much of a liability to stay at 3B and is more suited long term as a DH. He could see time in Oakland the back half of the season if there is an injury to Danny Valencia or Billy Butler. Dynasty Leaguers should have him stashed but redraft and standard keepers can wait for a waiver wire pickup.
Richie Shaffer (Rays)
Another bat with plus power and nothing else to give him a permanent role in the Major Leagues. Shaffer is an adequate fielder but his value comes in he can play any corner infield or outfield position. He does have good plate discipline (never walked less than 11% in any pro season) but he does strike out a ton. Like many other power hitters, he has a long swing that will need to shorten up or he will not get on base enough to hold enough value in most leagues. He could see an extended look in 2016 to cover injuries with his verstility to play multiple positions. However, Longoria is signed until 2022 (with club option for 2023) and Casey Gillaspie is the future 1B and a better overall prospect. Shaffer is worth a late round flier in deeper leagues, but not worth a roster spot in keeper or dynasty leagues because you won’t be able to stash him after using up over half his rookie eligibility last season. If there is an injury to Longoria, he is a good waiver wire pickup.
J.D. Davis (Astros)
Break-out year in 2015 (26 HRs, 101 RBIs) have him on the fantasy radar. Houston seems to really like him and he profiles as prototypical power hitting 3B with the glove and arm to stick. Could he allow Houston to trade Bregman or Altuve for a stud arm? Maybe, but still a year or two away.
Ke’Bryan Hayes (Pirates)
This 19 year-old is the son of Charlie Hayes. Plus hit tool and plate discipline. Excellent glove and arm should keep him at 3B. Lack of power only concern as his offensive skills don’t profile at 3B.
Austin Riley (Braves)
Maybe five years away, but Atlanta took him in the supplemental round between rounds 1 and 2 because he has raw power and hit tool potential. Long swing will produce strikeouts but he does have a clue at the plate and should collect a fair share of walks. If Olivera moves to third its only temporary. Riley will be the Braves 3B for most of the 2020’s.
Jomar Reyes (Orioles)
Played Low-A this past season as an 18 year-old and held his own. Signed as an International Free Agent in 2014, he likely won’t see Baltimore until 2019. There is no rush with Manny Machado a fixture at 3B. It is still raw but he projects as true plus power and with excellent plate control, he should hit enough to be valuable in multiple offensive categories.
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