Major League Baseball is filled with impressive star third basemen. The hot corner is a hotbed for youth MLB stars under the age of 30 from Nolan Arenado to Alex Bregman to Matt Chapman to Kris Bryant… and on and on to include the likes of up-and-coming players such as Yoan Moncada, Rafael Devers, and Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
Today’s Prospect Stock Watch takes a look at the top prospects at the hot corner, including some that could have an MLB impact as soon as 2020 and represent the next wave of stud fantasy third basemen.
Alec Bohm: Bohm definitely appears to be the top third base prospect in baseball right now. Selected third overall in the 2018 draft after an excellent college career, Bohm has continued to dominate in pro ball. He showed a great approach at the plate throughout his collegiate career and has a BB-K of 30-36 in 63 games this season covering three levels now that he’s been promoted to Double-A. He doesn’t have the raw power of a Jonathan India or Nolan Gorman but he’s a much better hitter who is going to hit for average and produce outstanding on-base numbers. His line-drive rates are a little worrisome right now as he was at a well-below-average 13% at High-A ball prior to his promotion. Bohm needs to continue to get stronger while working to hit balls in the air with more consistency. Owned in just 31% of Ottoneu Leagues (less than underperforming India for some reason), he’s a player you should consider adding before other fantasy managers catch on and his value starts to trend upward.
The Underrated Player:
Abraham Toro: Toro really started to come on with the bat in 2018 and had an excellent spring training with the Astros. Grabbed out of the junior college ranks as an amateur, it’s taken the 22-year-old third baseman some additional time to get up to speed with pro ball after growing up in Quebec, which is by no means a baseball hotbed. He currently boasts an OPS of .859 through 69 games. Along with getting on base, Toro has also shown good power potential. He’s also done a nice job of keeping the strikeouts in check. He’s not going to play third base every day in Houston with Alex Bregman around but he has a very strong arm and could end up at somewhere such as a corner outfield spot or maybe even second base. At worst, he should be a solid utility player capable of playing five times a week, not unlike former Astros utility guru Marwin Gonzalez. Toro is owned in just 1% of Ottoneu Leagues.
The Question Mark:
Jonathan India: There is no reason to be too worried about India at this point but his season can be best described as “fine” rather than “good” or “great.” He originally punched his ticket to the fifth overall selection of the 2018 draft by having an outstanding junior year of college after a solid-but-unspectacular first two seasons. There is no doubt that he possesses power but he also has some swing and miss to his game. His career strikeout rate sits at 25% despite being age appropriate the levels he’s playing at. In other words, he has yet to dominate competition despite his pedigree as a top college prospect (and also being on the radar as a prep prospect in Florida). Unless the light bulb clicks on shortly, it appears as though India will spend most of the year in A-ball and the majority of 2020 in Double-A with his MLB ETA possible for 2021. He’s owned in 36% of leagues right now but I wouldn’t have him on my “buy” list just yet.
The Future Stud:
Nolan Jones: After Alec Bohm, Jones would be my next “must have” third base prospect and he’s currently owned in just 18% of Ottoneu Leagues. Still just 21, he’s moved methodically through the Indians system and is currently playing in High-A ball but should sniff Double-A before the year is out. He shows a great eye at the plate and currently has a walk rate just shy of 20% – it’s actually never been lower than 16%. He has a high strikeout rate, too, which at times can come from his passivity as well as working a lot of deep counts and taking strikes called strikes that maybe aren’t strikes. But it also comes from the fact he’s a big guy with long arms and a long swing. Although Jones only has five home runs – and 13 extra base hits in total – he has raw power. He tapped into it more consistently in 2018 when he hit 19 long balls. Unfortunately, his swing is geared more to hitting the ball on the ground. Jones is actually pulling the ball more this year (up 15% from last year), which could suggest he’s trying to make adjustments to hit for more power, but right now he’s hitting a lot of infield pop-ups when the ball is ending up in the air.
Ke’Bryan Hayes really missed an opportunity to have an impact in 2019 when the Pirates’ third basemen were struggling early in the year. But now that Colin Moran is hot (an OPS nearing .900 over the past 30 days), Hayes may be stuck in Triple-A for the season. He certainly isn’t pushing the envelope with a .241 batting average and just three home runs. There is raw power that he just hasn’t been able to tap into and we can see signs of it with 20 of his 54 hits being doubles.
Nolan Gorman may have the highest ceiling of any third base prospect but he’s fairly unlikely to see the Majors in 2020. Still, the Cardinals have been aggressive with the 19-year-old’s development and recently promoted him to High-A ball even though he was hitting just .241 with 79 strikeouts in 67 games. But MLB is all about the home runs these days and Gorman is oozing with power potential. He’s owned in 63% of Ottoneu Leagues right now.
Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.