Thirty third basemen thumping? What is this the Twelve Days of Christmas?
Well, yes and no. The gifts in that song, except for the golden rings, seem awful, and the third base position has gone down something of a barren road the last few seasons. Vlad Jr. wound up at first base. Nolan Arenado wound up in St. Louis. He’s still fine, and Anthony Rendon is still good, probably, when healthy, and there’s still elite bats at the top, but in general, this position needs a talent infusion from a fantasy baseball perspective, and it might be about to get just that. Are there five golden bats in this group? We’ll have to peel our way to that truth one day at a time.
Format = Player | Team | Age on 4/1/22 | Highest Level Played | ETA
Tork is a demolitions expert at 6’1” 220 lbs with explosive rotation through the zone that costs him little if any barrel control because he’s so strong through his core. He’s especially adept at letting the ball travel and tracking it deep into the zone then dropping the hammer on pitches he can drive to the right side. He’s so good at lifting the ball that his grounders tend to be miss-hits that make for some easy (shift-able) outs, but that’s the only issue so far, and it’s a non-issue in real time. Chances are he’ll hit for power early and add average and OBP throughout his first few seasons. Click here to see Grey glimpsing the future in Spencer Torkelson, 2022 Fantasy Outlook.
Organizational rebuilds can get old in a hurry, so I’ll bet Jung was happy to see the Rangers sign Seager and Semien to lengthen the lineup and take pressure off Jung to carry the club. At 6’2” 214 lbs, he’d been a hit-over-power type until 2021, when he blasted 19 HR in 78 games across two levels and slashed .326/.398/.592. If not for an early injury, he was tracking as a mid-season call-up in 2021 and should become a big league lineup cog a few weeks into the 2022 campaign. Doesn’t make much sense to spend all that coin in free agency then tinker with the timeline of your best prospect.
Miranda is such a good hitter that it doesn’t really matter what kind of defender he ultimately becomes. He’s not a second baseman, but he’s eligible there already in Fantrax leagues, and who knows he might keep the designation for a few seasons as Minnesota seeks places to put him in the lineup. In 127 games across two levels this year, Miranda slashed .340/.401/.572 with 32 home runs, 4 stolen bases, and just 74 strikeouts. Some approximation of that could probably help the Twins in 2022.
Here’s a link to Grey’s Jose Miranda, 2022 Fantasy Outlook.
I made the trip to see Walker in High-A, but he was on the bench that night, or rather, atop the dugout steps cheering on his new teammates, looking like a human giant. I have no reason to argue against his listed 6’5” 220 lbs, but I can say he dwarfed everyone else on the team. I can also say I saw enough of Walker’s work on MiLB.tv that I want to be driving that bus in dynasty leagues. He features double-plus athleticism for a big man, a controlled swing that explodes through the zone, and plenty of foot speed to make himself a pest on the base paths. Walker played 82 games across two levels in his pro debut and was young for both levels, yet he slashed .317/.388/.548 with 14 HR and 14 SB. He’s looking like a consensus top-ten prospect sooner than later.
I’ve been trying to trade for Vargas in several of my leagues for a long time, and I’m not giving up now. In 83 AA games, the 6’3” 205 lb Vargas slashed .321/.386/.523 with 16 HR and 7 SB. Math isn’t my first language, but that would prorate out to an acceptable fantasy campaign, I think. His best trait is a double-plus hit tool that lets his solid power play up.
Gorman breathed some spice into his dynasty stock by sliding over to second base and popping 25 home runs in 125 games across two levels, slashing .279/.333/.481 by reducing his strikeout rate early and adding power later in the year as the K-rate kept dropping all the way down to 19.2 percent after a 31.7% rate back in 2019 at High-A. In short, it’s all coming together for Gorman. I’d still be more likely to sell than buy if he’s considered an elite piece in your league, but that’s mostly because I’ve always thought his top-end outcomes would be closer to good than great.
The 6’5” 215 lb right-handed hitter has a rare combination of hand speed, foot speed, hand-eye coordination and pitch-recognition for someone so big. Will get some Kris Bryant comps along the way. In 27 games with Low-A Delmarva, Mayo slashed .311/.416/.547 with 5 HR and 5 SB. For 2022, I’m predicting a two-level campaign opening at High-A and ending in AA at age 20, opening 2023 in AAA at 21.
Headline writers everywhere are rooting for Baty to become a star. Definitely some Gotham puns in his future. In the batter’s box, Baty stands tall and calm and employs a sound understanding of the strike zone along with developing power. Considered among the best pure high school hitters in his class, he’s climbed steadily through the system and stands at the precipice of an early promotion next season if he starts hot at AAA coming off a 118 wRC+ in 40 games at AA.
A tall (6’5”) corner also in the Kris Bryant mold, Vientos achieves a lot of loft in a manner reminiscent of KB. 2021 was his 2nd breakout season in the minors (22 HR in 72 AA games), and he’s the best bet in this system to impact redraft leagues in 2022. I wouldn’t be shocked if he settles into the lineup early and makes a run for rookie of the year. I mean if it weren’t a Met I guess. They get wild with playing time over there, though it’s unfair to expect that from whoever they hire to helm the ship this year.
Montero’s emergence provides the Rockies an Ace in the hole where justifying the Nolan Arenado is concerned. Arenado’s full value is tough to calculate in the pitches and outs he saves a pitching staff across a season, but his .312 OBP in 2021 is a pretty concrete piece of the evaluation. But this wasn’t meant to be a blurb about Arenado. We’re here to talk about Elehuris Montero, who features a cool name and smooth swing for a large man. At 6’3” 235 lbs, Montero brings easy plus power and hit 28 HR in 120 games across two levels, reducing his strikeout rate throughout the year, culminating in a tidy 16.5 % K-rate in 28 AAA games.
Yepez is one of two late breakouts on the list; we’ll be hoping to see both he and Brendan Donovan in 2022, but the impending DH ruling will have a bigger impact on their potential to help us in redraft than anything they can do in Triple-A Memphis, where the 6’1” 200 lb Yepez has nothing left to prove after slashing .289/.382/.589 with 22 HR in 92 games. Even without a universal DH implemented, Yepez could make an early push for playing time with a strong spring.
12. Joe Perez | Astros | 22 | AA | 2023
A 6’2” 198 lb right handed hitter, Perez was a 2nd round pick out of high school in the 2017 draft. He played at three levels in 2021 and ended the season on a tear at the highest level, slashing .316/.373/.533 with 6 HR and 1 SB over his final 36 games at AA. I cut it up this way because in his first 33 games at the level, Perez struggled, hitting two home runs and slashing .209/.262/.287. I see his late-season rebound as a great sign for his future. Baseball is a game of failing and adjusting. A game of bouncing back. Way to get back, Joe.
Grab a tankard. Time to get tipsy. Mead is a little like Jackie Chan in The Legend of Drunken Master in that he’s slightly unconventional in his fluidity. He can hit just about any pitch and employs a variety of swings to do so, which can be an extremely rare and valuable skill so long as you don’t lose your best base mechanics along the way. You don’t compare people to Vladimir Guerrero Sr. because he was an omicron—sorry, a unicorn—but that’s the kind of skill I’m referencing. CJ Abrams and Julio Rodriguez have some of this in them too. They, like the 6’2” 171 lb Mead, can collect hits on cuts that look less than picturesque. These contact-making skills allowed Mead to play at four different levels this year, beginning in Low-A and ending in the Arizona Fall League with the AAA playoffs in between. It’s been a wild ride for Mead, who can make a case to be as high as 4th on this list.
14. Zack Gelof | Athletics | AAA | 22 | 2023
A right-handed hitter with an all-fields approach, Gelof is a plus athlete at 6’3” 205 lbs whose best tool is his feel to hit and barrel control, which helped him coast through his debut season at Low-A with a .298/.393/.548 slash line, 7 HR and 11 SB in just 32 games. A 2nd round pick in 2021, Gelof finished the season hot after jumping two levels to AAA, picking up seven hits in 13 plate appearances across three games. That’s mostly irrelevant of course, but it’s a neat peak at the hit tool helping him adapt instantly to a new, much tougher level. Where he’ll begin 2022 is an open question, but High-A is a safe bet, and a quick promotion to AA is well within the realm of possibilities.
When the season started, Burger hadn’t played since 2017 in Low A, but the Sox saw enough juice in Spring to assign him to AAA. Might be an unprecedented jump in my time tracking this stuff. The 6’2” 220 pounder stepped up to the challenge, slashing .274/.332/.513 with 18 HR in 82 games. He also played well in 15 games as a big leaguer, slashing .263/.333/.474 with five extra base hits in a part-time role. He got some time at second base, and while it’s hard to imagine that as his long term home, it’s encouraging that the club thinks enough of his athleticism to give it a whirl. Should have a shot at a short-side platoon role early in 2022 with more on tap if he sizzles.
Davis is 6’4” 185 lb right-handed hitter with the defensive chops to stick on the left side of a big league infield. He was drafted by the Dodgers out of high school in 2015 (5th round) and traded (with others) to the Rangers for Yu Darvish, who lost him a couple years later in the minor league phase of 2020’s rule 5 draft. Probably understatement to say he’s fallen off the prospect map, given that he’s not even among the Angels’ top 30 prospects according to MLB Pipeline, which just has to be a temporary oversight. No way you’d ignore a plus-pedigree bat slashing .333/409/.641 across 31 AAA games after playing his way up through A+ and AA in the same season. He turned 24 mid-season (July 28), so he wasn’t old for either upper level, and as I mentioned, he’s a solid defender with six-plus seasons of professional infield reps, eight if you want to count 2020 and his draft year. He’s blocked at 3B as long as Anthony Rendon can take the field, but he’s talented enough to bounce around a bit, and Joe Maddon’s never met a guy he won’t move all over the diamond. As a weird little bonus for draft-and-hold or deep dynasty formats, Davis enters the season with 2B, SS and 3B eligibility at Fantrax. I suspect I’ll have him rostered in every league except my ten-teamers at some point this year.
I initially wrote this name as Slay, which is what it stayed for so long I began to think Slay was the man’s given name, which began to make sense the more I learned about the player, who does in fact, slay in the batter’s box. He’s custom-built for Houston in that he’s a pull-everything type of hitter with enough experience and feel that he does exactly that with aplomb. In 58 games with High-A Asheville, the 6’3” 202 lb righty slashed .300/.358/.601 with 16 HR, 16 SB and a 31.5 percent strikeout rate. It’s more or less impossible to know how his pitch selection will hold up against elite pitching, but so far his homer-hunting selective aggressiveness has dominated his peers, and I’m starting to think Houston has itself a scouting steal from Division II UC San Diego in the 5th round of the 2020 draft.
A 6’3” 205 lb right handed power bat, Groshans had a very good season in a lot of ways. One was that he played baseball. His 75 games at AA were the most he’s played in a single season by 26 games. Another good outcome was that he didn’t strike out much. A 19.3 percent K-rate doesn’t make him elite in that area, but combined with a 10.8 percent walk rate, the ratio advertises good plate skills for a player many have dubbed a natural hitter. The only downside to his season is seven home runs, a little less than you’d hope to see from a guy with plus raw power. It’s a trade the Jays will happily make, I think, at least for now, at least as long as it comes along with decent health and a slash line something like the .291/.367/.450 he posted in 2021.
Lanky corner bat whose value is driven by proximity and patience. I’ve always been down on Jones, comparatively, because I’m not sure he’s aggressive enough within the strike zone to hang against guys who just don’t give you much to hit and sure as shit aren’t going to walk you if you’re not going to swing. His numbers have always been padded by poor command at the lower levels, and he’ll simply need to adjust, which he started to do after a slow start in AAA. He finished with a functional .238/.356/.431 slash line along with 13 HR and 10 SB in 99 games, which isn’t great but would be an improvement on Cleveland’s outfield production over the past few years.
20. Colt Keith | Tigers | 20 | A+ | 2024
A two-way high school player with a shot to go either direction as a pro, Keith is a strong left-side defender who’s arm will play in an outfield corner and give him some options on his climb. The 2020 5th round pick was stunningly effective in A ball, posting a .436 OBP and .320 batting average. He hit just one home run in 44 games, which speaks to his smooth line-drive swing from the left side, where he can let the ball travel and slash it to the opposite field with ease. At 6’3” 211 lbs, Keith will likely add power simply from learning the nuances of leverage and taking a few more risks in firing his base early and trusting his hands to adjust late. I wouldn’t want to mess with him though. As long as he’s getting on base almost half the time, whatever he’s doing is fine for now.
The Milk-Man features a double-plus throwing arm and might already have plus plate skills. Tough to say until we see him play a full season, but his 20.7%/20.2% BB/K rate at the complex site is an outlier. Not many 19-year-olds walking around with .463 OBPs or 139 wRC+ scores in that league. He played just six games in Low-A at season’s end but carried a 12.5%/12.5% BB/K rate there with a .406 OBP and 118 wRC+. I don’t think it’s just passivity pushing the profile, but that’s tough to tell until we see him against pitchers who can pound the zone. He’s listed at 5’11” 185 lbs and will likely add power as he grows into his frame.
22. AJ Vukovich | Diamondbacks | 20 | A+ | 2023
At 6’5 210 lbs with a puncher’s chance to stay at third base, Vukovich is a better fantasy prospect than a real-baseball list might indicate. He’d be a slow-footed left fielder or a right-right first baseman if he can’t hang at the hot corner. Or, you know, a DH, in a less ludicrous world. His double-plus power brings with it some strikeouts, but nothing egregious for a guy much younger than his competitors. On the season, he slashed .272/.320/.446 with 13 HR and 16 steals. Traded some power for contact at High-A, where he was 3.8 years younger than the average but hit .298 with 3 HR in 30 games. I wouldn’t be surprised if he opens the season in AA about half a decade younger than the average player there.
23. Deyvison De Los Santos | 18 | A | 2025
A 6’1” 185 lb right handed hitter straight out of central casting, De Los Santos might’ve gotten scooped up in your deepish dynasty leagues last year, particularly if transactions remained open through September. Over his final 22 games in full-season A ball, De Los Santos hit .315 with 3 HR and 1 SB–nothing to blow your top about but enough to lock in an impressive debut season in which he slashed .295/.370/.489 slash line with 8 HR and 3 SB in 62 games across two levels. Good time to buy if you can.
A free swinger who makes a lot of contact, Diaz doesn’t seem like the type to tone down his approach, just given the frequency at which he vibrates in the box and how much of his body he gets into each cut. He’s listed at 5’10” 175 lbs but looks closer to 200. I’m a little worried about his ability to make swing decisions in the Maikel Franco sense because he can make contact with a lot of pitches, and his swing starts pretty early. Extraneous movement isn’t the issue. It’s hard to describe exactly, but you can almost feel the need-to-swing seething inside him as the pitch is coming in, and his follow-through can be ferocious. Nonetheless, Diaz rarely strikes out–just 15.9 percent in 90 games at High-A- and 15.3 percent in Low-A in 2019–but his contact rate comes at the expense of his walk rate: 6.8 percent last year. I like him quite a bit as a playing time piece in deep leagues because he looks like a major leaguer. I’m not sure where he fits in this plate-discipline era where third basemen play a lot of second base, but he’d have been a highly regarded prospect for his steady glove and high-average bat in the not-too-distant past.
Hinds brings double plus power and made more consistent contact than I expected in his first real run as a pro. He spent only eleven games on the complex before graduating to Low A, where the 6’4” 215 lb muscle man slashed .251/.319/.515 with 10 HR and 6 SB in 43 games. That’s good enough to send him to High-A to open 2022, and if he does similar damage there, he’ll start scaling the prospect lists like that dude in Free Solo.
26. Wes Kath | White Sox | 19 | CPX | 2026
Kath is a 6’3” 200 lb left handed hitter with an all-fields approach who could grow into the rare plus-hit, plus-power zone we all want to see. The Sox took him with the 57th overall pick this year and sent him to the complex league, where he slashed .212/.287/.337 with 3 HR in 28 games. Not ideal, but he’s just getting started.
The statline doesn’t jump off the page at first blush, but Bryan Ramos had a good season as a Kannapolis Cannon Baller in Low-A, slashing .244/.345/.415 with 13 HR, 13 SB, 51 walks and 110 strikeouts in 115 games. You can see where he needs to improve and how he’s working at that. He hit 23 doubles and 6 triples. The 6’2” 190 right handed hitter signed out of Cuba in 2018 and posted a line that looked a lot like what he did in 2020: .277/.353/.415 with 4 HR and 3 SB in 51 games. I think it’s a good time to buy in on Ramos, who turns 20 in March and will open 2022 in High-A with a path to AA and even AAA before he turns 21.
Sounds like an indie flick from the late nineties about the big-city awakening of a teenager named Bernabel. Warming was closer to melting across 22 games in the complex league, slashing .432/.453/.743 with 6 HR and 5 SB. A big signing (900K) in the 2018-19 international class, Bernabel is a 6’180 lb righty with the obvious tools to impact our game. He struggled in 21 games at A-league Fresno, slashing .205/.287/.313, which might help keep Bernabel under your league’s radar. He’s a buy for me.
I don’t really know what’s going on with Colton Welker, but I’m guessing he’s hard at work on his swing decisions. He’s gone from a high-walk guy to a high-contact guy to a high-walk guy again, and I think he’ll settle in somewhere in between. All hitters need to find that happy balance of just how frequently to swing, and after a tough season (.313 OBP) at AA in 2019, Welker seems to have leveled out, especially during a nice (.378 OBP) 23 game stretch at AAA in 2021. His big league month (19 games) went about as poorly as those can go (.189/.250/.216) but he’ll be with the club in spring training fighting for his spot, and I won’t be surprised if he’s in the lineup an awful lot this season.
Antuna has yet to make the club look smart for spending $3.9 million to sign him back in 2016. It’s not all his fault though. He lost almost three full seasons due to Tommy John surgery, leg issues and the covid shutdown before returning to the field this season. I got a live look at him when Wilmington came to Cedar Rapids, and he looks all of his listed 6’ 195 lbs. Antuna batted cleanup that night, but his stats are ugly so far: 12 HR and 4 SB across 106 games with a .227/.307/.385 slash line. He’s been over-owned in dynasty leagues for a while now in my opinion, but he still has enough upside that I’m on the fence about his future. Still not someone I’m looking to acquire, but I’m open to the possibilities going forward.
Thanks for reading!
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