Previous entries in this series
In the second base installment of this series, I praised the short-term help while bemoaning the lack of attractive long-term options. That makes the second base list the yin to the third base list’s yang. There are some role players here who might help deep dynasty leaguers, but in general, you’re going to need to wait a while for major fantasy payoff at the hot corner.
Names for 2017
Ryan McMahon, Rockies
Look, McMahon clearly had a down year in 2016, both defensively and at the plate. His prospect status has taken a big-time hit, as a good season would’ve seen him poised to threaten for a top-25 dynasty ranking. But before we get too down on McMahon, let’s consider some of the positives. His struggles at Double-A came as a 21-year-old, and he still managed to hit for a .265 TAv. Scouting reports still suggest he has plus power. And he’s still got a shot of playing at third base. The problem? As I pointed out in the Rockies top-10, McMahon is going to have to move out of the organization if he wants to man the hot corner, and if he moves out of the organization, well, then he’s not a Rockie. I still think McMahon is a solid buy-low candidate, but he definitely carries some risk. So if you are buying low, make sure the cost is actually, you know, low.
Matt Chapman, Athletics
Chapman can really pick it at the hot corner, and as such he’s a better IRL prospect than a fantasy asset. He’s got big power, though, and that, coupled with his proximity to the majors, makes him at least a little interesting for our purposes. Don’t expect good averages, but if Chapman can muscle out 20-25 bombs a year, you’ll be able to forgive the low AVG. Unless you’re in points leagues, that is, because Chapman is going to strike out at an aggressive pace. There’s a reason some of his Similarity Index partners include Mike Olt, Pedro Alvarez, and Mat Gamel. At least Jake Lamb is in there, too.
Jeimer Candelario, Cubs
Another player who needs to switch organizations to make the most of his dynasty ability, Candelario mashed in 76 games in Triple-A last season after struggling in Tennessee. Candelario can really hit and has a good approach, which portends decent averages and solid OBPs. Unfortunately he lacks big-time power and doesn’t run, so the ceiling here is more as a top-20 fantasy hot corner option than anything more of the top-10 variety. Still he’s close enough to the big leagues and has enough of a carrying fantasy tool (AVG) that he’s a threat to make the top 101.
Hunter Dozier, Royals
He lives! Dozier resurrected his prospect career in 2016, hitting .294/.357/.506 in Triple-A and dramatically cut down on his strikeout rate. He still faces questions about the utility of his hit tool in the majors, but Dozier has power and should get some playing time between third base and the outfield. He’s a bench bat for now, but there’s a chance he’ll be a bit more in the future if the gains he made last season translate better than we think they will at the next level.
Rio Ruiz, Braves
Ruiz has become a bit of a forgotten prospect, but he did hit .271/.355/.400 as a 21-year-old in Triple-A this season, and he does have a fairly clear path to playing time in the majors. It’s not sexy and you’ll only want to use him in very deep mixed or NL-only leagues, but Ruiz could be a backup fantasy option or the next year or two. He’s probably not a long-term starter, though, as a first-division team would want to do better at the hot corner.
Renato Nunez, Athletics
Meh. Nunez isn't very exciting, but he has power and proximity on his side, and he should bring a little bit of defensive versatility, too. As noted in our A’s top 10, Nunez is a guy who wouldn’t see much playing time in most orgs, but he sure feels like a dude who’ll finagle 400 yearly PA out of the A’s for a while, doesn’t he?
Yandy Diaz, Indians
Diaz profiles best as a corners bench bat, but if someone at one of said corners for the Tribe gets hurt, Diaz can hit enough to be interesting for a while. It’s not super exciting, but I bet Diaz ends up being fantasy relevant a few times in his career.
Moran can hit for average but can’t hit for power. Davis can hit for power but (probably) can’t hit for average. With Alex Bregman and Yulieski Gurriel in tow, neither figures to see much playing time.
Names for 2018 and Beyond
Rafael Devers, Red Sox
No one really seems to doubt Devers’ ability to hit or power projection. It all comes down to whether he’ll remain at third. If he does, he’s a potential true fantasy superstar who’ll contribute in four categories. If not, he’s still got the bat to profile as a starter at first base. He might struggle a bit in the upper minors until he tones down his aggression, but we’re still looking at a player who should be a fantasy factor by 2019. In his prime. A 280 average with 30 homers and 100 RBI is very much in play. Get excited.
Nick Senzel, Reds
I compared Senzel to the modern-day Anthony Rendon in the Reds top-10 list, and I’ll stick with that here. He might not truly excel in any one category, but he’s a solid bet to contribute in all five of them, and it wouldn’t shock me to see him earn MLB playing time as soon as 2018. Basically, if you prefer prospects that strike a balance between probability and upside, Senzel is your guy. He’s the best dynasty prospect from the last draft for sure.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Blue Jays
Guerrero faces an awful lot of “what ifs” even for a player in the low minors. If the aggressive approach plays and if the power is usable in games and if he sticks at third base, we are looking at an absolute fantasy monster. But if he lacks his dad’s hand-eye (who doesn’t?) or if the power just shows up at 5:00 p.m. or if he moves to first, he’s not altogether special. Guerrero is teeming with upside, but his family name is making him an overvalued fantasy asset at present.
Jomar Reyes, Orioles
Reyes had so much trouble around bats in 2016 his mother’s name is probably Martha. The 19-year-old bombed in his first taste of High-A, but as you might have inferred from the first clause in this sentence, he was a 19-year-old in High-A. He’s still got serious power potential, and there’s no shame in repeating the level given his circumstances. I like Reyes as a buy-low candidate, albeit one who has a pretty solid shot of not panning out. He’s still a top-150 guy for me.
Lucas Erceg, Brewers
How’s your risk tolerance? Erceg has enticing natural tools and an upside as a potential top-10 fantasy third baseman. He’s also got quite a few red flags, might lack premium power projection, and is quite a few years away from the majors. He’s a candidate to fly up this list if he avoids off-field trouble and produces on it, but expect some bumps in the road along the way.
Ke’Bryan Hayes, Pirates
Hayes still has the type of solid all-around offensive profile that could make him a fantasy starter at the hot corner, but his 2016 season was mighty uninspiring. I like him as a moderate buy-low candidate, but I also recognize that the ceiling isn’t sky-high here thanks to his so-so power.
Will Craig, Pirates
Unfortunately, when it comes to staying at third base, well, Will Craig won’t. That makes his potential above-average hit and power tools less attractive, though he could still be a third- or fourth-tier option at the cold corner. Wait a minute … good god, that’s C.J. Cron’s music!
We Hardly Knew Ye (Fantasy Value)