MINORS: Top 3B prospects 2018

This week continues our annual review of the top prospects by position. Between now and Opening Day, we'll examine one position a week by looking at both those rookies ready to contribute in the big leagues now, as well as the top 15 long-term prospects at each position. Again this year, our topic schedule will mirror the position covered in Market Pulse that same day, to give you a complete look at the position. 

Previous columns in this series:  C  |  SS  |  2B

Today, we take a look at the top 3B prospects. For years, 3B was viewed as a valuable position for fantasy owners. The position was chocked full with guys who could give owners solid production, sometimes at a rock bottom price. Something changed earlier this decade, coinciding with the demise of Pablo Sandoval (just sayin'). The position, which at times ran 15-plus names deep, started to dwindle. It's taken awhile for the market to show recovery, but it's happening now.

Even after Rafael Devers graduated last season, this is the strongest prospect crop in years. This grouping includes two consensus Top 10 overall prospects, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Nick Senzel. It also includes five guys likely to be starting 3B in the second half of this season and beyond. There is also reinforcements on the way too. One could easily go 20 deep on this list.

The best player in this class is Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Blessed with an (arguably) 80-grade hit tool and power potential out the wazoo, he may make a September cameo for the Blue Jays. Nick Senzel, the other consensus Top 10 prospect, looks to be the most well-rounded 3B prospect since David Wright. Joining them on this list is a cast of guys who continue to ascend towards the big leagues. A few, like Kevin Maitan, Ryan Mountcastle and Christian Arroyo have either moved off shortstop or are expected to move off the position shortly. These players have added depth to the position and have created opportunities for owners to grab guys to stash as they develop.


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The dollar ranges listed below represent projected values for 2018. (See a more detailed scouting report on each player by following the link to his team's organization report.)

$6-$10
Nick Senzel (CIN)
Miguel Andujar (NYY)

Cincinnati is in the midst of a rebuild. With several prospects ready or close-to-ready, the chemistry of their team is about to undergo a complete overhaul—hopefully, for the better. Senzel is the cornerstone of this group. Steady throughout his development, Senzel tapped into his raw power for the first time as a professional in the second half of 2017, slashing .340/.413/.560 and hitting 10 HR and 25 XBH in just over 200 Double-A ABs. He also is a sneaky base stealer. Senzel owners can look for double-digit SB output early and into his prime years. There isn't much standing in his way for playing time (Eugenio Suarez) once the Reds work through the Super 2 deadline. For Senzel owners, it is just a matter of time until he impacts their team this season.

Opportunity? Check. Deep Lineup? Check. How about a history of solid ct% rates? Check. Few rookies enter the season in a better position than Miguel Andujar. Avoiding the luxury tax threshold has been priority this off-season for the Yankees. While they acquired Giancarlo Stanton from Miami, they've let some veteran performers go to avoid the tax. They chose not to resign Todd Frazier and they shipped Chase Headley back to San Diego. This opens the door for Andujar, who put himself back on the prospect map last season by game planning his at-bats and identifying the breaking ball better. Aggressiveness, especially early in the count, may cause Andujar to struggle some as the leagues catches up to the hitter. However, it's hard to ignore how he consistently finds the barrel. A mid-80s career ct% bodes well for his debut.  

$1-$5
Christian Arroyo (TAM)
Colin Moran (PIT)
Brian Anderson (MIA)

Acquired in the Evan Longoria trade, Christian Arroyo is primed for significant playing time at either 2B or 3B this season. His best defensive position is 3B, where he shows potential to become a Gold Glove performer. Long term, he's a 3B if he can hit enough. Arroyo struggled in his MLB debut last season, slashing .192/.244/.304. He chased a lot of breaking balls out of the zone and then got caught in-between as his stint wore on. Eventually, he was sent down to Triple-A, recalled and was hit by a pitch his first game back, breaking his left hand and ending his season. A wrist injury suffered in winter ball further clouds his projection this season. More of a long term asset, owners should be careful and heed the health reports before counting on Arroyo this season.

Just three months ago, Colin Moran's fantasy outlook for 2018 was bleak. Stuck behind Alex Bergman and J.D. Davis on the Astros 3B depth chart, the trade to Pittsburgh liberated Moran from organizational purgatory and put him in line for regular reps at 3B. Even with a veteran like David Freese in front of him. If you need depth this season at 3B, Moran is a likely candidate. While he lacks the high ceiling most of these players on this list possess, he makes up for it with a solid MLB floor. Moran is a patient hitter with a knack for hard contact. His ct% spiked to 82% after making a few mechanical adjustments last season in Triple-A. Moran has plus power potential, especially if he sells out for it, though that would continue to limit his batting average. There are some questions whether he remains at 3B long term because of his defense. Even then, at best, he's a middle-of-the-pack producer at projection.

Brian Anderson's profile isn't exciting—but it's not terrible either. A solid hitter who made big strides in the 2nd half of 2017, Anderson is close to seizing an MLB opportunity. A strong-framed player, his power finally made an appearance in his game, as he slugged 22 HR between two minor league levels, and earned a late-season promotion to the big leagues. While the power dried up in the majors, Anderson did showcase an advanced approach at the plate and a .262 average, which fell along his minor league career norms. At projection, he's likely a .270/.340/.470 with 20-25 HR from the 6th or 7th position in the lineup. 

 

Long-term top 15 3B Prospects
1. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (TOR)
2. Nick Senzel (CIN)
3. Kevin Maitan (LAA)
4. Ryan Mountcastle (BAL)
5. Austin Riley (ATL)
6. Michael Chavis (BOS)
7. Christian Arroyo (TAM)
8. Miguel Andujar (NYY)
9. Colton Welker (COL)
10. Ke'Bryan Hayes (PIT)
11. Colin Moran (PIT)
12. Lucas Erceg (MIL)
13. Nolan Jones (CLE)
14. Brian Anderson (MIA)
15. J.D. Davis (HOU)

Prospect hype, it's a funny thing. The BHQ hype machine for former Braves prospect Kevin Maitan is in high gear. Maitan, who was caught up in the international signing scandal that cost John Coppolella banishment from baseball and allowed Maitan to become a free agent, eventually signed with the Angels. Number 3 may seem high on our list, especially compared to the industry and the lack of results. However, we remain steadfast on believing the information provided by our contacts. Maitan struggled in his U.S. debut. The scouts we talked with believe his struggles coincided with bulking up his physique and adjusting to a new culture. The quick wrists and strong hands were still present, especially from the right side of the plate. The power potential from the left looks enormous too. It may take a year or two, but we believe he's the future top prospect at the position.

A lot of hype surrounds Colton Welker. A natural hitter, some amateur evaluators didn't believe his approach was suited for pro ball, thus explaining his fall to the 4th round of the 2016 amateur draft. As a pro, he's refined his approach and the power has come alive. He peppers the middle of the field with line drives and has already shown the ability to drive the ball to the gaps and over the fence. While some reports suggest he has soft hands, a few scouts have expressed concerns on weather his agility plays at 3B long term. With his hit tool and emerging power, Welker is likely a Top 100 prospect next season.


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  For more information about the terms used in this article, see our Glossary Primer.