Third base prospects are coming back with a vengeance after a few years away. The two top dogs from last year’s Top 10 return to this year’s list and they are joined by a host of other quality prospects from the hot corner. A present, the minor leagues offer a nice mix of third basemen close to the big league level as well as a host of high ceiling talents that are still a few years from the big league radar. This Top 10 list exhibits both of those worlds, as several big-league read options occupy the upper reaches of the list, followed by a few crude prospects that could explode in the next year or two.
1. Anthony Rendon – Washington Nationals
2. Miguel Sano – Minnesota Twins
If Anthony Rendon could just stay on the field, he might have already forced his way onto the big league roster in Washington. A supremely talented offensive player with projection for average and power, Rendon is a potential star. With Ryan Zimmerman anchoring third base in Washington, Rendon’s first Major League opportunity may come at second base if Danny Espinosa’s shoulder gets in the way of him playing every day. While further away from the big leagues, Miguel Sano may actually have a higher raw ceiling than Rendon. With the best power of any prospect in the minor leagues, Sano has huge potential at the plate, but there are serious questions about his future in the field.
3. Mike Olt – Texas Rangers
4. Kaleb Cowart – Los Angeles Angels
5. Jedd Gyorko – San Diego Padres
Though I have ranked him as a third baseman, Jedd Gyorko is poised to make the Padres opening day lineup as the starting second baseman. He isn’t a defensive wizard at either position, so his defensive listing doesn’t really matter. What matters is his bat, and it has the potential to impact the middle of the San Diego lineup for quite a while. Mike Olt could have a similar impact in Texas, though his opportunity may come at first base because of Adrian Beltre. Cowart is still a full year away from the big leagues but he could fit right into the Angels’ lineup in late 2014 as a power hitting third sacker with a solid glove.
6. Nolan Arenado – Colorado Rockies
7. Wilmer Flores – New York Mets
For me, Arenado and Flores offer a step down from the three prospects ahead of them. Both players have solid big-league potential, but they don’t offer the impact potential of Olt, Cowart and Gyorko. Arenado could see time in Colorado this year but with David Wright (injury and all) in New York, Flores may have to find another avenue to The Show.
8. Maikel Franco – Philadelphia Phillies
9. Cheslor Cuthbert – Kansas City Royals
10. Patrick Wisdom – St. Louis Cardinals
I am a noted Maikel Franco apologist. I think his bat speed, feel for hitting and power potential will all play at the big league level in time, and I even think he will be a decent enough defender to stick at the position. He is the best position player prospect in the Phillies system as far as I am concerned. Cheslor Chuthbert had a rough season in 2012 but his potential is still obvious and he could shoot up this list next year. Wisdom may be a bit of a surprise to some by both my amateur reports and initial pro reports were extremely positive, giving me reason for long term optimism.
Just Missed: Garin Cecchini – Boston Red Sox, Matt Davidson – Arizona Diamondbacks, Edward Salcedo – Atlanta Braves, Richie Shaffer – Tampa Bay Rays