A lot of press has been given to the Snider/Thames battle in Toronto, but I consider this the most interesting position-time battle of the spring. Right now, three candidates for the job are all well-regarded prospects and are doing well in their own ways. And there is Chone Figgins. But anyway, onto the interesting names.
Kyle Seager said he made a change in his chance to produce more power. So far it looks like it's working. He hit 3 doubles yesterday and already has 3 Home Runs. He already is a solid all-around hitter with good average and plate discipline in the minors, so he could benefit from adding power to his game. He also has some positional flexibility, having played some SS and 2B. However, he has a 9/0 K/BB ratio so far.
Alex Liddi - Controversial as a prospect for his high strikeout rate, he clearly has power and didn't fall flat on his face in his cup of coffee last year. He is raking so far this spring, showing great HR and extra base power, but hasn't shown a real improvement to indicate growth in plate discipline. His defense might not be good enough for him to stick, but is better than Catricala's. He'll need to have a strong year to avoid getting lost in the shuffle, but he should get a chance.
Vinnie Catricala - The only thing holding him back is his defense. He has a great bat and has shown it in ST, hitting for power and average, and has shown pretty good plate discipline as well. It's unclear how high his offensive upside is... he was drafted as an "organizational guy" but has just hit more and more every year, going gangbusters in 2011, despite lack of fantastic tools. If he could improve his defense to the passable level, he'd be an intriguing option. He still has the potential to be a plus DH, but he will have a harder time finding an opening.
Michael Saunders - Okay, so he's not a third baseman, but he's still a prospect in my eyes, and he directly impacts the outcome of this competition. If he wins the CF job and Figgins takes third instead of center (if anything at all), none of these 3B prospects will get their chance to shine initially. He says he has revamped his swing for more power and has looked good in ST, but color me skeptical... when it comes to hitters adding power, I tend to prefer players that can actually get the bat on the ball. Still, he's 25 and the upside remains high, so the book's not closed on him.
But let's imagine a perfect world where each of these players were given a starting job with a full season of At-Bats, unimpeded by injuries or managerial decisions. What kind of numbers would you expect them to put up? How do you think the situation is going to shake out in real life during the 2012 season?