We continue the series, looking at the top third base prospects in this year's draft. Like second base, third base is not a deep position. Most professional third basemen are converts from amateur ball, and are typically drafted as shortstops.
|Joshua Lowe||3B/RHP||HS||L-R||6-3||185||Pope||Marietta||GA||Florida State|
|Joe Rizzo||3B||HS||L-R||5-11||195||Oakton||Oak Hill||VA||South Carolina|
|Drew Mendoza||3B/SS||HS||L-R||6-4||190||Lake Minneola||Minneola||FL||Florida State|
|Logan Gray||3B||JR||R-R||6-2||185||Austin Peay State||Leawood||KS|
|Ulysses Cantu||3B||HS||R-R||5-11||185||W.E. Boswell||Fort Worth||TX||Texas Tech
|Jose Miranda||3B||HS||R-R||6-0||170||Caguas||Caguas||PR||Broward CC
|Chad McClanahan||3B||HS||L-R||6-5||205||Brophy College Prep||Scottsdale||AZ||Arizona State|
|Blake Tiberi||3B||R-SO||L-R||5-11||200||Louisville||Taylor Mill||KY|
The top of the third base group this year is Nick Senzel. Senzel beats baseballs like Bonham beat the drums. He should be a top ten pick, likely a top five pick, and possibly as high as the top pick in the draft. The difference in placement will be in how teams view his defensive projection - he should stick at third - and his power projections - currently more of a doubles hitter with 15-20 home run power. I would say his basement in this draft is the 12th pick, as I doubt both the White Sox or Mariners would pass up on him, and there's almost 0% chance the Red Sox would.
The top prep third base prospect is Josh Lowe. The two way standout from Georgia could be a first round pick from the mound, but his future is in the field. His swing creates loft, and should give him nice power, although it can get a bit loopy. He should be above-average in the field, and has above-average speed. I wouldn't expect him to see the second round, and should be gone by the 25th pick.
Joe Rizzo is getting drafted for his bat, which has some of the best power potential in the prep class thanks to a lightning quick bat. His defense is the question mark. Many think he may be able to make it work at second base. He has the arm for right field. I wouldn't be surprised if a team drafts him and tries to convert him to catcher. But the unknown of his defense is what holds his draft stock back a bit. A team who isn't as concerned about these questions could grab him in the first round. Otherwise, the bat should get him picked by the end of the second round.
Drew Mendoza is a more complete player than Rizzo, but he is also more unsignable, floating a $3 million bonus demand. Without signability, he's ahead of Rizzo, and has one of the higher ceilings in this draft - think a left-handed hitting Arenado. A team drafting him will have a good handle on what he wants and if they can make it work. If he goes in the first two rounds, the team will have likely figured out a way to sign him. If not, he will probably drop out of the top ten rounds, and will end up in college.
Those four end the top tier at third base. Next is Lucas Erceg. Erceg could be considered part of that top tier, but he is a lottery ticket. The guy has mashed the ball to the tune of .308/.351/.639, with 15 walks and 18 strikeouts. Of course this is for tiny Menlo College, which he transferred to after failing out of California. And while that line is nice, you would expect more from someone who hit .303/.357/.502 his sophomore season at California. His defense is alright at third base, but he will likely be a right fielder at the pro level. He has a bad reputation among scouts for his personality. But if you think he's turned a corner, a player with his power should be grabbed in the first two rounds. If not, he's more of a fourth-fifth round guy.
Logan Gray is one of my favorite college bats. He likes to crush baseballs. He has good power, and a nice glove at the hot corner. There is some swing and miss in his games, but it shouldn't be bad enough to ruin him in pro ball. This year, he's hitting .356/.454/.687 with 27 walks and 49 strikeouts. The only thing holding him back is playing for a smaller conference. A team that isn't deterred by that could grab him in the second round. He has a good shot of being gone by the fourth round.
There are three prep third basemen grouped together. Cantu will not likely sign, and will look to boost his draft stock for the 2019 draft at Texas Tech. He has a powerful swing, one of my favorites in this year's prep class. I'm a sucker for simple, quick swings with direct bat paths that create hard, solid contact. He has actually been playing behind the plate this spring, taking advantage of the arm that once threw 90 off the mound before the bat blossomed. He could be a first rounder in three years.
Jose Miranda is the most likely of this group to sign, as a Puerto Rican prep player who has committed to community college. Broward CC has a team stacked with Puerto Rican talent and is a common place for players from the island to commit. He's currently more of a SS, but with a body type that could fill out and move him to third base. He has good speed, and a swing that produces line drives. He's still a bit raw, but a team could get a steal with him. He could be grabbed before the tenth if a team has a good read on signability, but if not he will definitely get picked after the tenth and teams will try to sign him with leftover pool money.
McClanahan is probably the least likely to sign. He's a tall kid who may have to move to first base as he fills out. He didn't wow with his performance this spring, and Arizona State usually lands their commits. He won't likely be picked until after the tenth round, perhaps later. With his type of raw power, he could shoot up draft boards after three years of college.
Wrapping it up is Blake Tiberi. Tiberi had a breakout spring as a draft-eligible sophomore, hitting .335/.384/.541 with 18 walks and 20 strikeouts. This is after hitting over .300 in the Cape last summer. However, he has a lot of leverage, with two more years of draft eligibility, and that will make him tougher and more expensive to sign. There is the issue of his defense, which is not very good at third base. Another year in college gives him a chance to break into the top few rounds, and either find a new defensive home or show improvement at third.