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Fantasy Baseball: Top Fantasy Third Base Prospects for 2011

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ANAHEIM CA - JULY 11:  U.S. Futures All-Star Mike Moustakas #8 of the Kansas City Royals at bat during the 2010 XM All-Star Futures Game at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on July 11 2010 in Anaheim California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
ANAHEIM CA - JULY 11: U.S. Futures All-Star Mike Moustakas #8 of the Kansas City Royals at bat during the 2010 XM All-Star Futures Game at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on July 11 2010 in Anaheim California. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
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Here is the fifth of my Top Prospect articles and today I am writing about the top fantasy third base prospects in baseball for 2011, and the list is deep. Very deep. While the shortstop list was pretty short, the list of third baseman who could make a fantasy impact in 2011 is large.

Here are my Top Third Base Prospects for 2011:

1. Mike Moustakas, KC-Mous should see time in Kansas City by May or June the latest, after hitting 36 HRs and driving in 124 runs between AA Northwest Arkansas and AAA Omaha in 2010. He batted a combined .322-.369-.630 with a K/BB rate of 67-34. I think Moustakas can pull a Mike Stanton at AAA in 2011 prompting an early call-up. He may struggle initially, but he is the future for KC who will be patient with him. Moustakas is draftable in re-draft leagues, and a must own in keeper leagues.

2. Zack Cox, STL-I read recently that the Cardinals pondered calling up Cox late last season, but did not do so, and this is the reason why I have him ranked so high here. The Cardinals will probably start Freese at third out of spring training, but think Cox could move fast in the Cardinals system, especially for a team that is starving for hitters. Cox is projected to hit for a solid BA with 20-25 HR power. Cox is probably not draftable in re-draft leagues, but is draftable in keeper leagues.

3. Brent Morel, CHW-Morel flashed some power in his cup of coffee in 2010, hitting 3 HRs in 65 at bats, but hitting just .231-.271-.415. Morel hit .322-.359-.480 with 10 HRs and 64 RBIs between stints at AA and AAA last year. Morel should be the White Sox third baseman in 2011, and should provide some pop with a decent BA. Morel had a 50-13 K/BB rate in just over 300 ABs in AAA last year, which is concerning. Morel is only draftable in keeper leagues at this point.

4. Matt Dominguez, FLA-I am not sure I agree with the Marlins giving Dominguez a shot at the third base job in 2011, but that is what they are talking about right now. For me, Dominguez still has work to do at the plate as he hasn't hit for much power or for a high BA in his 3+ minor league seasons. He hit just .252-.333-.411 with 14 HRs and 81 RBIs as a 20 year old in AA last year, so he was young for the level. I think he needs more time in AA or AAA in 2011, but we may see Dominguez, and his gold glove potential manning third base for the young Marlin team.

Update-decided to add a poll question

More third base prospects after the jump:

5. Lonnie Chisenhall, CLE-Chisenhall now has over 600 plate appearances at AA Akron, so he should start the season in AAA, with a chance for a call-up at some point in 2011. Chisenhall hit .278-.351-.450 with 17 HRs and 84 RBIs last year, with a solid 77-46 K/BB rate in 460 ABs at AA. The Indians are in the midst of a rebuild, so Chisenhall is the future at third base for the Indians. Chisenhall is only draftable in keeper leagues at this point, but I have a feeling that will change come 2012 drafts.

6. Josh Bell, BAL-I wrote about Bell here, and think he needs to prove himself at AAA to regain his prospect shine.

7. Alex Liddi, SEA-Liddi followed up his breakout 2009 season where he went 23-104-10-.345-.411-.594 at High A, with a solid AA campaign. Liddi hit .281-.353-.476 with 15 HRs, 92 RBIs and 5 SBs and a 145-50 K/BB rate in just over 500 at bats. He has struck over 500 times in his 2,000+ minor league at bats, but has 81 doubles the last two years. I am not sure if he has changed his stance at the plate or not, but he is hitting for more power the last two years than he displayed in two seasons in Low A.

8. James Darnell, SD-Darnell followed up a solid 2009 season where he hit .311-.424-.536 at Low A and High A, with a slightly disappointing 2010 season hitting just .265-.348-.408 with 10 HRs and 50 RBIs, albeit in a pitchers league. Darnell will more than likely start 2011 in AAA and will need to hit for more power if he wants to get a call-up. John still likes his bat, and I agree, and think that Darnell has a shot at some time in the bigs, especially if GM Jed Hoyer decides to deal current third baseman Chase Headley.

9. Juan Francisco, CIN-Francisco already has three 20+ HR and 90+ RBI seasons in the minors, but the Reds went out and traded for Scott Rolen in 2009 to play third base, so Francisco will have to wait another year to make it to the big leagues. Francisco hit .286-.325-.565 with 18 HRs and 59 RBIs with a 81-16 K/BB rate, so it's obvious Francisco likes to swing the bat. But, he is also prone to the strikeout, as he has struck out over 500 times in his 2,100 minor league at bats, and his K rate increased to 26% in 2010. Francisco will need an injury to Rolen to see time at third in Cincinnati in 2011.

10. Mat Gamel, MIL-I wrote about Gamel here, and think he has the bat to play in the bigs, but needs the Brewers to fall out of the wildcard race and trade Prince Fielder next year to have any value in re-draft leagues.

11. Brandon Laird, NYY-Laird is trade bait for now with Alex Rodriguez manning third base for the Yankees. One has to wonder if ARod will become a full-time DH in 2012 thus giving Laird a shot to play third base. Laird had his best season yet in 2010, hitting .281-.336-.482 with 25 HRs, 102 RBIs and a 111-42 K/BB rate in stints at AA Trenton and AAA Scranton. He will probably start the 2011 season in AAA to see if he can improve his eye at the plate.

Keeper League Rankings

1. Mike Moustakas, KC
2. Lonnie Chisenhall, CLE
3. Zack Cox, STL
4. Miguel Sano, MIN
5. Nolan Arenado, COL
6. Nick Castellanos, DET
7. Josh Vitters, CHC
8. Josh Bell, BAL
9. Mat Gamel, MIL
10. Matt Davidson, ARI
11. Bobby Borchering, ARI
12. James Darnell, SD
13. Brent Morel, CHW
14. Alex Liddi, SEA
15. Matt Dominguez, FLA
16. Kaleb Cowart, LAA

FYI-If Wilmer Flores moves to third base as some predict, I would rank him at #2 behind Moustakas.