2016 Impact Rookies: Third Basemen

We recently began a series looking at the potential top rookie producers at each position around the baseball diamond. This series should be valuable for anyone participating in a fantasy league that allows keepers. It could also help anyone playing in more traditional formats who may need to fill holes throughout the season or may be in need of a little spark. Today, we look at the hot corner but it doesn’t look like much help is on the horizon for fantasy managers with gapping holes the position — there’s definitely no Kris Bryant in this year’s freshman class.

First Basemen
Second Basemen

Third Basemen

Top Targets:

Joey Gallo, Rangers: Gallo’s biggest obstacle to being an impact player in ’16 is the presence of potential Hall of Famer Adrian Beltre at third base. The second biggest obstacle he faces is his lack of consistent contact, which leads to legendary strikeout rates to go with his prodigious power. Luckily for Gallo, he’s shown a willingness to play in the outfield and veteran left-fielder Josh Hamilton has shown an inability to stay on the field for a full season. The rookie’s versatility will help his fantasy value but it remains to be seen if he’ll develop into anything more than the second coming of Russell Branyan.

Keep an Eye On:

Eric Jagielo, Reds: The move from the Yankees to the Reds during the offseason did wonders for Jagielo’s 2016 outlook. Blocked by Chase Headley in New York, the rookies faces no such obstacle in Cincinnati thanks to the trade of Todd Frazier. The Reds may open the season with a bunch of chum floating in the water (i.e.. Eugenio Suarez and Ivan De Jesus) with the hope that Jagielo will be ready at some point in the summer. The 23-year-old third base prospect had a respectable showing in 2015 in Double-A but he struggled to stay healthy and appeared in just 58 games. As a result, the Reds might want to be cautious with Jagielo and have him open the year back in Double-A.

Brandon Drury, Diamondbacks: The Diamondbacks have a promising third baseman in Jake Lamb but Drury could soon be ready to make things interesting. The good news for him, Lamb, and fantasy owners is that the prospect is also capable of playing at second base (although the club has solid depth in that area too). A former Braves prospect, Drury saw his home run total drop from 23 in ’14 to just five in ’15 but his 40 doubles suggest there is more power potential to tap into. He’s also consistently hit for a strong batting average throughout his pro career.

Garin Cecchini, Brewers: Cecchini hit the jackpot when he moved from Boston to Milwaukee. Blocked by Pablo Sandoval and with a plethora of young talent zooming up behind him, that was certainly not the best organization for him. On the other hand, the Brewers may have to open the year with Aaron Hill or Yadiel Rivera playing at the hot corner — unless Cecchini can show signs of his previous promise. He won’t hit for much power but the rookie has the ability to hit for average and get on base. He also has a little versatility and could eventually become eligible in the outfield in some fantasy leagues.

Renato Nunez, Athletics: The ever-revolving door that is Oakland Athletics baseball claimed Brett Lawrie this offseason and that thinned out some of the third base depth. As a result, Nunez could see an opportunity in The Show sooner than expected — especially if Danny Valencia stumbles. Working against Nunez is the presence of former first rounder Matt Chapman, although he spent 2015 in high-A ball. Nunez likely needs to improve his plate discipline if he’s going to make an impact in the Majors.

Colin Moran, Astros: Full disclosure: I’m not a huge Moran fan. But he has shown the ability to hit of a decent average in the minors and third base is a bit of a blackhole for the Astros (I’m also not a Luis Valbuena fan). Things working against him: he doesn’t possess much useable power, he doesn’t run overly well and he also has fellow third base prospect J.D. Davis breathing down his neck.

Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.

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Tuscan Chicken
Tuscan Chicken

I heard Jagielo’s defense at 3rd was shaky. Is it, and is that something we should consider in a dynasty league?