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Tomorrow's All-Stars: Predicting the 10 Best Third Basemen in 5 Years

Karl BuscheckContributor IIINovember 20, 2016

Tomorrow's All-Stars: Predicting the 10 Best Third Basemen in 5 Years

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    Kathy Willens/Associated Press

    From the outlandishly powerful Joey Gallo to the sidelined Miguel Sano, the minor leagues are absolutely loaded with standout third basemen.

    That's the position we turn to for stop No. 4 in this five-part series known as "Tomorrow's All-Stars." In the previous three weeks, we've taken a look at the rising stars at catcher, first base and second base.

    Now, it's time to take a look into the future and predict which prospects will be the 10 best third basemen in five years' time. 

A Word on the Criteria

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    Jason O. Watson/Getty Images

    The idea behind this series is to focus on the prospects. 

    For that reason, players who have already made their MLB debuts haven't been considered for this list. However, there are definitely current players who have the potential to still be playing at an All-Star level in five years' time. 

    So, here's a rundown of active major leaguers who would have been under consideration had the top 10 included current third basemen: 

    • Josh Donaldson, Oakland Athletics 
    • Nolan Arenado, Colorado Rockies
    • Nick Castellanos, Detroit Tigers
    • Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay Rays
    • Pablo Sandoval, San Francisco Giants 
    • Manny Machado, Baltimore Orioles

Honorable Mentions

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    Before we get started with the top 10, let's take a look at a few of the third base prospects who just missed the grade:

    • Matt Davidson, Chicago White Sox*
    • Rio Ruiz, Houston Astros 
    • Renato Nunez, Oakland Athletics
    • Mitch Nay, Toronto Blue Jays

     

    *Note: Matt Davidson has been included as an honorable mention because the third baseman lost his eligibility for this list after debuting with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2013. In the video above, Davidson goes yard while playing for the Chicago White Sox's Triple-A affiliate earlier this season. 

10. Eric Jagielo, New York Yankees

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    Age: 22

    Current Minor League Level: High-A

    2014 Stats: .256 (40-for-156), .339 OBP, .500 SLG, 8 2B, 10 HR, 31 RBI

     

    The Track Record

    The New York Yankees grabbed Eric Jagielo with the No. 26 pick in the 2013 MLB draft. Last summer, the third baseman collected 22 extra-base hits and posted an .826 OPS in 55 games for the club's rookie league and short-season affiliates. 

    The left-handed hitter has demonstrated tons of pop in 2014. In his first 42 games, Jagielo has clubbed eight doubles and 10 home runs. That power bat should be an ideal fit for the short porch in right field at Yankee Stadium.

    Just where Jagielo will end up defensively, though, is still up for debate. According to Marc Hulet of FanGraphs, the 22-year-old might not have the "range" to handle third base. 

     

    When He'll Arrive in the Big Leagues

    Jagielo will likely spend most of the 2014 season in High-A, but could earn a promotion to Double-A late in the season. Following such a time line, the former top pick could land in Triple-A near the end of 2015 and reach the Bronx by the middle of 2016. 

     

9. Hunter Dozier, Kansas City Royals

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    Age: 22

    Current Minor League Level: High-A

    2014 Stats: .246 (34-for-138), .371 OBP, .319 SLG, 4 2B, 2 HR, 20 RBI, 5 SB

     

    The Track Record

    The Kansas City Royals' decision to select Hunter Dozier No. 8 overall in 2013 was widely described as an overdraft at the time. However, Dozier immediately impressed, as he hit .308 with 30 doubles and seven home runs in his first 69 games as a professional. 

    This year, the right-handed batter is off to a slow start at the plate with Kansas City's High-A affiliate. The 22-year-old is batting .246, as he's currently in the middle of a 6-for-30 slide.

    A former shortstop in college, Dozier's strong arm and expansive range give him the potential to be an above-average defender at third base. 

     

    When He'll Arrive in the Big Leagues

    Dozier will need to turn around his poor offensive start before he has any chance of earning a promotion to Double-A. With Mike Moustakas hitting just .153 in Kansas City, the Royals definitely need an upgrade at third base. However, Dozier likely won't be able to provide any help until early in the 2016 season. 

8. Colin Moran, Miami Marlins

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    Age: 21

    Current Minor League Level: High-A

    2014 Stats: .274 (29-for-106), .325 OBP, .349 SLG, 8 2B, 10 RBI

     

    The Track Record

    In his first professional at-bat while playing for the Greensboro Grasshoppers, Colin Moran deposited a home run beyond the wall in right field.

    However, the No. 6 overall pick from the 2013 draft doesn't offer the same type of pop that most of the others players who crack this list do. Last summer, Moran totaled four home runs in 42 games, and this season he's yet to hit any in 27 contests. 

    Nonetheless, the left-handed hitter has an advanced approach at the plate. Brian Schneider, who is his manager with the Jupiter Hammerheads, noted that he could tell "right away" that Moran has excellent plate discipline, according to Chris Wright of The News & Observer.

    Moran should have no trouble handling third base. Marc Hulet of FanGraphs projects that the 21-year-old will be an "average or better defender."

     

    When He'll Arrive in the Big Leagues 

    Moran is moving quickly through the Miami Marlins' farm system. The prospect is hitting his way toward a midseason promotion to Double-A and could earn a spot in Miami's lineup by the middle of the 2015 season. 

7. Ryan McMahon, Colorado Rockies

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    Age: 19

    Current Minor League Level: Low-A

    2014 Stats: .268 (41-for-153), .352 OBP, .562 SLG, 15 2B, 10 HR, 38 RBI, SB

     

    The Track Record

    Just 19 years old, Ryan McMahon is already making his mark in the minor leagues. 

    The Colorado Rockies landed the third baseman in the second round of the 2013 draft, and McMahon hasn't stopped hitting since then. Last year, he batted .321 with a .984 OPS, 18 doubles, three triples and 11 home runs in 59 rookie league games. 

    In 2014, the left-handed batter leads the South Atlantic League with 10 home runs and has also added 15 doubles and 38 RBI in 41 contests.

     

    When He'll Arrive in the Big Leagues

    McMahon still has lots of climbing to do before he arrives at Coors Field. 

    His target for now should be to earn a promotion to High-A before the the 2014 season is over. Ultimately, McMahon could make it to the major leagues by the end of the 2016 season or the start of 2017. Of course, the Rockies already have Nolan Arenado, one of the top third baseman in baseball, standing in his way. 

6. Garin Cecchini, Boston Red Sox

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    Age: 23

    Current Minor League Level: Triple-A

    2014 Stats: .295 (41-for-139), .385 OBP, .360 SLG, 6 2B, HR, 17 RBI, 6 SB

     

    The Track Record

    Last year, Garin Cecchini led all of the minor leagues with a .443 OBP.

    In addition to being exceptionally patient at the plate, Cecchini is also an accomplished hitter. In 2013, the third baseman batted .322 with 33 doubles and a .915 OPS while playing for the Boston Red Sox's High-A and Double-A affiliates. 

    In 2014, the left-handed batter is once again off to a strong start. In his first 41 Triple-A games, Cecchini is hitting .295 with six doubles and six stolen bases. However, with seven errors already, the fourth-round pick from the 2010 draft still has some work to do in the field. 

     

    When He'll Arrive in the Big Leagues

    Cecchini's dicey defending is what kept him from getting the call to Fenway Park when Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks recently hit the DL, as Alex Speier of WEEI reports.

    However, since then, the Red Sox have signed shortstop Stephen Drew, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. That move sends Xander Bogaerts to third base, which puts a serious dent in Cecchini's chances of reaching Boston in 2014. 

5. D.J. Peterson, Seattle Mariners

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    Age: 22

    Current Minor League Level: High-A

    2014 Stats: .291 (44-for-151), .333 OBP, .464 SLG, 9 2B, 3B, 5 HR, 29 RBI, 4 SB

     

    The Track Record

    As you can hear in the video above, D.J. Peterson has one loud swing. 

    The Seattle Mariners selected Peterson with the No. 12 pick in the 2013 draft after he enjoyed a highly successful career at the University of New Mexico. Last summer, the right-handed hitter connected on 13 home runs in 55 games during his professional debut.

    In 2014, Peterson has demonstrated the ability to hit for both power (five home runs) and average (.291) while playing for the M's High-A club. However, the 22-year-old's glovework still has all sorts of room for improvement. In 25 games at third base this season, Peterson has already racked up 10 errors.

     

    When He'll Arrive in the Big Leagues

    Peterson has the ability to move swiftly through the minor leagues. The top pick could make it to Double-A before the end of the 2014 season and could wind up in Seattle late in 2015. 

4. Joey Gallo, Texas Rangers

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    Age: 20

    Current Minor League Level: High-A

    2014 Stats: .342 (51-for-149), .460 OBP, .792 SLG, 7 2B, 3 3B, 18 HR, 39 RBI, 4 SB

     

    The Track Record

    Joey Gallo has been putting up video-game numbers in 2014. 

    The 20-year-old leads all of baseball with 18 home runs. While playing for the Texas Rangers' High-A affiliate, the third baseman is batting .342 with a .792 SLG and a 1.252 OPS. The absurd power numbers are nothing new for the No. 39 pick from the 2012 draft. Last year, Gallo connected on 40 home runs. 

    However, the right-handed hitter has also been highly susceptible to striking out. In 2013, Gallo racked up 165 strikeouts in 106 games, and this year that number stands at 46 after 43 contests. 

    There are also questions about his viability as a third baseman. According to Jason Parks of Baseball Prospectus, Gallo's play in the field is "robotic" and a switch to the outfield could be necessary. 

     

    When He'll Arrive in the Big Leagues

    Up next for Gallo is a trip to Double-A, but that "won't happen until June at the earliest," as Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports. The jump to Double-A is often described as the most difficult in the minor leagues. However, if Gallo makes the leap, he could end up in the Rangers lineup by early 2015. 

3. Maikel Franco, Philadelphia Phillies

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    Age: 21

    Current Minor League Level: Triple-A

    2014 Stats: .235 (38-for-162), .315 OBP, .370 SLG, 10 2B, 4 HR, 18 RBI, SB

     

    The Track Record

    At first glance, Maikel Franco's numbers aren't exactly overwhelming. 

    In his first 42 games, the third baseman is batting .235 with a .685 OPS. However, it's worth noting that at 21 years old, Franco is one of the youngest players in Triple-A. The right-handed hitter has also picked up the pace as of late, posting a .854 OPS in the previous 10 games.

    Last year, top prospect broke out as he hit .320 with a .569 SLG, 36 doubles, three triples and 31 home runs in 134 games between High-A and Double-A. That showing prompted Marc Hulet of FanGraphs to remark that Franco was reminiscent of a "young Edwin Encarnacion."

    In the field, his skills have already caught the attention of Philadelphia Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg, who noted to Todd Zolecki of MLB.com that Franco has a "real good glove."

     

    When He'll Arrive in the Big Leagues

    Franco is flying through the Phillies' farm system, and could end up in Philadelphia later this summer. However, a more conservative approach would see him debut with the big league club at the start of the 2015 season. 

2. Miguel Sano, Minnesota Twins

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    Age: 21

    Current Minor League Level: N/A

    2014 Stats: N/A

     

    The Track Record

    In the year of Tommy John surgeries, Miguel Sano has been one of the rare position-player casualties. 

    The Dominican underwent the dreaded procedure in March, and told Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes that he hopes to return to the diamond by the fall. 

    Last year, the third baseman was one of the most productive players in all of the minor leagues. Sano smashed 35 home runs in 123 games between High-A and Double-A, which earned his the No. 3 spot on MLB.com's Top 100 Prospects list. 

    In four seasons in the minors, the right-handed hitter has connected on 90 home runs. The Minnesota Twins' top prospect has also demonstrated a highly patient approach at the plate with a career OBP of .373. Ultimately, though, Sano's future defensive home could prove to be first base rather than third. 

     

    When He'll Arrive in the Big Leagues

    Once he recovers from surgery, the 21-year-old will start the 2015 season in Double-A. Sano could easily hit his way to Target Field by the end of next season, and land a regular gig in Minnesota by the start of 2016. 

1. Kris Bryant, Chicago Cubs

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    Age: 22

    Current Minor League Level: Double-A

    2014 Stats: .325 (52-for-160), .419 OBP, .600 SLG, 11 2B, 11 HR, 36 RBI, 5 SB

     

    The Track Record

    Kris Bryant is dismantling the Southern League. 

    The third baseman is hitting .325 with a league-leading 11 home runs in his first 43 Double-A contests. While pitching on a minor league rehab assignment, Chicago Cubs reliever Jose Veras dubbed the slugger simply "unbelievable," according to Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune

    The Cubs snapped up the 6'5" right-handed hitter with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2013 draft. Last summer while splitting time between rookie league and Low-A, Bryant collected 14 doubles, two triples and nine home runs in 36 games. 

    One issue with the promising third baseman, however, is all the swings-and-misses. In 2014, Bryant has punched out 53 times. 

     

    When He'll Arrive in the Big Leagues

    The organization is in no rush to promote Bryant to Triple-A, as Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer explained to Gonzales.

    "Right now, it's not something we've talked about."

    However, at his current pace, it would be shocking if the 22-year-old doesn't receive a call-up to the club's top affiliate at some point this summer. Bryant should be ready to challenge for a full-time job with the Cubs by Opening Day 2015. When he reaches Chicago, his top competition will be Mike Olt, who also has a knack for hitting home runs. 

     

    Note: All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com and MILB.com. All videos courtesy of YouTube.com.

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