We’ve made it through first base and second base prospect rankings. Both positions feature players we will see in 2019, and both positions have prospects that should make a significant impact to your fantasy roster. This week, and next, we will be shifting to the other side of the diamond. In recent seasons, we’ve seen players such as Kris Bryant and Alex Bregman pay huge dividends for fantasy owners, and there are a handful ready to make a splash in 2019 and the next few seasons. This week, I bring you “That’s Amore!” Minor League Maestros: Third Basemen 2019.
Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. – Toronto Blue Jays
Minors: .381/.437/.636/20 HR/78 RBI
It should be no surprise Guerrero Jr. takes the stop spot in the third base prospects rankings. He’s arguably the most talked about prospect in years, and owners are anxiously awaiting his arrival to the Majors. Toronto already made it clear they will keep Guerrero Jr. in the minors until the control date (Super II) status has passed. That leaves us with around late May or early June as a target date for Guerrero Jr.’s arrival. What can we expect from the young slugger? At 19, he’s without a doubt ahead of his peers, and easily Major League-ready now. In 2018, he moved quickly between rookie and A ball, seeing a majority of his 2018 at-bats at Double-A and Triple-A. It was clear early that minor league pitching is no match for Guerrero Jr. as he finished the season slashing .381/.437/.636 with 20 home runs and 78 RBI. His quick swing is evident in nearly all at-bats you watch, and his power, to all fields, seems effortless. His power will translate to the Majors, and 30+ home runs should be an annual feat. He possesses an above-average arm, but lacks speed and range. There are concerns that over time, his lack of range and speed could push him to a corner outfield spot, but as of now, third base is where Toronto plans on playing him. If you are in dynasty/keeper leagues, he’s already on rosters. However, he will be taken in nearly all redrafts, a la Ronald Acuna in 2018, and it’s up to you if you are going to be the owner that snags him. I’d suggest tempering expectations in 2019. The power numbers will be there, but runs batted in could be minute as the Blue Jays are one of the worst teams in baseball. In time, his numbers will equal those to an MVP, but that will be within the next few years as the Blue Jays are currently in a state of flux.
Nick Senzel – Cincinnati Reds
Minors: .310/.378/.509/6 HR/25 RBI
Senzel was off to a hot start in 2018 before a fractured index finger required season-ending surgery. He was looking to be one of the first prospects called up, but that ended in late June, followed by elbow surgery in October. Fast-forward to 2019, and Senzel looks primed to make a boom with the Reds. His consistent hard contact, accompanied with great bat speed, allow him to do major damage from the right-side of the plate. While he possesses average speed, he has great base running instincts, and could reach double-digit steals. Simply put, he reminds me a lot of Alex Bregman. Not the biggest guys on the field, but ones with great bat speed, that can do major damage at the plate. Playing time will be the key for Senzel in 2019. Third base is his best position, but with Eugenio Suarez locked up, second base seems like the ideal spot. I’ve heard rumblings of Senzel playing center, but if a player has neither the range, nor quickness, to play shortstop, I find it unlikely he would play centerfield. The Reds currently roster Scooter Gennett, and he’s been better than expected since arriving in Cincinnati. I don’t see Senzel pushing him for playing time, so Senzel will more than likely start out in the minors before getting his call. However, if an injury should occur to Suarez or Gennett, Senzel will be called up immediately.
Austin Riley – Atlanta Braves
Minors: .294/.360/.522/19 HR/70 RBI
After Guerrero Jr., Riley could possess the next best power in this group of third base prospects. At 6’3″ 220lb, Riley can get the leverage with his swing and launch balls to the outfield. The potential is there for 30+ home runs, but strikeouts will always be a concern. After lowing his strikeout percentage from 29.6% (2016) to 25.6% (2017), he saw an uptick at 31.6% in 2018. One thing I do like was a slight increase in walk percentage in 2018 from 2017. This is an indicator that he was more patient and his eye is getting better at the plate. At 21, Riley has a little left in terms of growth at the plate. The Braves signed Josh Donaldson to a one-year deal, and this will allow Riley to get another season of at-bats at AAA-Gwinnett. With Johan Camargo likely to get the first crack if Donaldson were to go down, it could be a while until we see Riley in 2019. Still, the Braves are the defending National League East Champions, and will be looking to repeat in 2019. It’s only a matter of time before Riley arrives in Atlanta, and he possesses some of the top power potential of all third base prospects.
Jonathan India – Cincinnati Reds
Minors: .240/.380/.433/6 HR/23 RBI
The former Florida Gator was one of the top collegiate bats coming out of last season’s draft. He possesses a quick bat, and showed progression in terms of being selective. He is a quick runner, and has shown the ability to steal bases. Overall, his high average should translate well as he moves through the minor leagues, and power should develop quickly. His athleticism will play well, and could help him reach the Majors quickly as he could play a corner outfield spot. His athleticism is one of the key factors I believe will help him get a call sooner rather than later, as the infield spots are cemented in Cincinnati. His strong arm, above-average speed, and overall IQ make me believe he’s destined for right field with the Reds.
Ke’Bryan Hayes – Pittsburgh Pirates
Minors: .293/.375/.444/7 HR/47 RBI
2019 will be the year Hayes finally gets his call with Pittsburgh. I’d call current incumbent Colin Moran anything but their third basemen of the future. That leaves Hayes starting the season with AAA-Indianapolis, and eventually getting the call over the summer. Hayes has worked hard to get himself in tip top shape, and his improved agility has allowed him to steal bases. He’s been known to have one of the, if not the, strongest arms of all third base prospects and this will only aid in Pittsburgh’s willingness to give him a call. He has a quick, short stroke and he’s shown the ability to hit for a solid average at every stop in the minors. 2019 should see him play nearly the entire season in Indianapolis, and I’m interested in catching a few games before he gets the call to Pittsburgh.
Alec Bohm – Philadelphia Phillies
Minors: .252/.335/.324/0 HR/17 RBI
Drafted third overall in last year’s draft, out of Wichita State, Bohm possesses ideal size, at 6’5″, for either corner of the infield. His quick bat allows him to make consistent contact, and the best part is he doesn’t strike out a lot while drawing walks. 2018 was just a cup of coffee in the minors after his collegiate season. Mikel Franco is the current starter at third, and from rumblings within the organization they do not feel he’s the answer for the foreseeable future. That leaves Bohm, at 22, more than enough time to makes stops in the minors before getting his call to Philadelphia. At 6’5″ and 225 lbs he’s probably best suited for first base or left field as his arm is only average. With Rhys Hoskins looking to man first base for years to come, I see Bohm in left even though Hoskins profiles as a better athlete for left field. His size reminds me a lot of Kris Bryant, but he lacks the quickness and overall athleticism of Bryant. Still, offensively, Bohm possesses 25+ home runs per season, and he’s a name I’d highly recommend monitoring over the next season or two.
Nolan Gorman – St. Louis Cardinals
Minors: .291/.380/.570/17 HR/44 RBI
After Guerrero Jr. and Senzel, Gorman intrigues me the most. The Cardinals have a knack for drafting solid prospects, and even better knack of developing them. Gorman gives the Cardinals a solid left-handed hitting third baseman with a power grade of 70 out of 80. What quickly catches the eye is his quick hands leading to phenomenal bat speed and contact. Along with contact he draws plenty of walks, while being able to keep his strikeouts in check. Questions have been made of whether or not a move to a corner outfield spot seems likely, but the Cardinals liked what they saw in his first stint of minor league baseball with a fielding percentage right around 90%. I’m telling you now, keep plenty of tabs on Gorman as the Cardinals are the epitome of a great organization and Gorman should be their next great position player.
Nolan Jones – Cleveland Indians
Minors: .283/.405/.466/19 HR/66 RBI
Jones is arguably one of the best Indians prospects selected out of the draft. A lot of the players on this list were first-round talent, but Jones is slightly different insofar as he was drafted towards the end of the second round. That being said, he’s quickly made a name for himself, and could allow the Indians to shift Jose Ramirez to second while slotting Jones at third. In Jones, the Indians have a quick, left-handed hitter that makes consistent contact and has shown the ability to hit to all parts of the field. At 6’4″ he gets loft under the ball and this has played huge in his power numbers. His plus arm strength, and decent speed, make him a top defender, and this is ideal for the third base position. We are a season away from seeing Jones, but his offensive ability makes him a high target in fantasy baseball. He should be on your radar now, and I’m looking forward to his 2019 season as he should start in Double-A while ending the season in Triple-A. 2018 was a career-year with 19 home runs, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we see him surpass that total in 2019.
Ryan Mountcastle – Baltimore Orioles
Minors: .297/.341/.464/13 HR/59 RBI
Ryan Mountcastle finds himself in one of the best positions in terms of playing time. No, no one wants to play for a bad organization, but eventually the competitor in us comes out, and frustration sets in when you’re ready for your call, but there’s nowhere to play everyday at the Major League level. That’s not the case for Mountcastle. The former first round pick (2015) has the chance to see a solid amount of at-bats in 2019. Let’s face it, the Orioles are arguably the worst team in Major League Baseball, and names such as Chris Davis (presently) and Renato Nunez don’t necessarily make you nervous in terms of getting your call. Early reports, out of Spring Training, suggest the Orioles are already giving Mountcastle reps at first base, and this only makes it more likely Mountcastle gets a call early into the 2019 season. I had Renato Nunez as a higher prospect during his days with Oakland and Texas, but power was never a promise, and he has yet to get a full season of at-bats. 2019 could be different, but Mountcastle offers more potential for power. Chris Davis is owed $92mil over the next four seasons, and hasn’t played more than 128 games since 2016. 2016 is also the last season a fantasy owner could stomach having Davis on their roster. 2019 is the season for Mountcastle to show he belongs in MLB, and his quick bat, and ability to stay inside the ball will help keep him in Baltimore. He is destined to start in Triple-A, but that may be-short lived if the Orioles are ready to bring up a player that has shown the ability to not only hit the long ball, but hit for a high-number of extra-base hits. Keep an eye on Mountcastle. While he may not be as sexy as the other names on this list, he could be a very, very solid addition for a utility spot on your fantasy roster.
Colton Welker – Colorado Rockies
Minors: .333/.383/.383/13 HR/82 RBI
While it seems Colorado will do everything in their power to keep Nolan Arenado, they do have a plethora of talent that could help mitigate his loss. Brendan Rodgers, who I’ll talk about next week, could see time at second, but he can also take over third should Arenado leave. Another option within the next few seasons could be Colton Welker. A former fourth-round draft pick, Welker owns a career minor league slashline of .337/.384/.492. The guy simply puts the bat on the ball, and has a quick, short stroke. He will start 2019 in AA, and could move quickly up to Triple-A. I don’t see him getting a call in 2019, and the more realistic option seems like 2021. Still, he could make the jump next season. He’s a player that is more quiet in terms of name value, but his power, average, and potential will see his name start hitting the scene in 2020.
Rookie Eligibility: No more than 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched and less than 45 days on the active MLB roster
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Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show: Join Corey D Roberts, and Kyle Amore on Thursday February 21st, 2019 from 8pm – 9:45pm EST for the Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show. Call in number is 323-870-4395. Press 1 to speak with the host. You can listen live on blogtalk, majorleaguefantasysports.com, or download the podcast on I-Tunes or any Android podcast app. Our topic for tonight will be the A.L. West.
Be sure to check out our Sunday night show February 24th from 8pm to 9:45pm EST. They will cover the N.L. West.
Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show: Join host Cole Freel live on Sunday February 24th, 2019 from 8-9:45pm EST for episode #140 of Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio. We are a live broadcast that will take callers at 323-870-4395. Press 1 to speak with the host. You can listen live on blogtalk, majorleaguefantasysports.com, or download the podcast on I-Tunes or any Android podcast app. This week we will break down the N.L. West.
Our guests this week is are Kyle Klinker, and Bilal Chaudry. Both Kyle and Bilal are veteran owners in Major League Fantasy Baseball leagues and have won several titles between the two of them.