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Before we get into predicting the top 20 third basemen at the MLB level in 2020, let’s take a look at who might top the position’s prospect lists two years from now.
1. Nolan Jones, Cleveland Indians (2020 Age: 22)
Signed for a $2.25 million bonus as a second-round pick in 2016 after slipping because of concerns over signability. Hit .317/.430/.482 with 25 extra-base hits in 265 plate appearances at Low-A last year. Plenty of room to add strength to 6’4″, 185-pound frame. Prototypical power-hitting third baseman profile.
2. Colton Welker, Colorado Rockies (2020 Age: 22)
Already looking like a steal as a fourth-round pick in 2016. Advanced approach and polished hit tool with the raw power to be a consistent 20-plus home run threat. Hit .350/.401/.500 with 25 extra-base hits at Single-A last year.
3. Lucas Erceg, Milwaukee Brewers (2020 Age: 25)
Enjoyed a huge junior season at Menlo College after starting his college career at the University of California. Plus raw power and a rocket arm at the hot corner after also serving as team’s closer at Menlo. Slow start in Double-A but still on the fast track.
4. Ke’Bryan Hayes, Pittsburgh Pirates (2020 Age: 23)
Plus athlete who profiles as a high-average bat and Gold Glove-caliber defender. Advanced approach has put him on the fast track, as he’s already playing at Double-A. MLB.com gave his power tool a 45 grade, which is his biggest question mark. Should still provide enough value in other areas to be an everyday player.
5. Hudson Potts, San Diego Padres (2020 Age: 21)
Reaching for Potts at No. 24 overall in 2016 allowed the Padres to sign prep right-hander Reggie Lawson for above-slot in the second round. Showed intriguing power potential with 23 doubles and 20 home runs in Single-A debut. Approach still needs work after posting a 26.8 percent strikeout rate and 4.4 percent walk rate last year.
6. Jake Burger, Chicago White Sox (2020 Age: 24)
Hit .339/.420/.620 in three seasons at Missouri State, slugging 43 home runs during his final two years on campus. Power is his standout tool, but he does a little bit of everything well. Suffered a torn Achilles during spring training and will miss entire 2018 season as a result.
7. Mark Vientos, New York Mets (2020 Age: 20)
Has the bat speed and raw power to hit for both average and power at the next level. Played more shortstop than third base in pro debut, but should make the full time move to the hot corner as his 6’4″ frame continues to fill out. Might take some patience, but could be well worth the wait.
8. Jacob Gonzalez, San Francisco Giants (2020 Age: 22)
Son of five-time All-Star Luis Gonzalez. Had some of the best raw power in the 2017 draft class. Will take time to grow into his over-the-fence production. Might fit better defensively at first base or in left field. Power will be his carrying tool.
9. Yasel Antuna, Washington Nationals (2020 Age: 20)
Five-tool potential earned him a $3.9 million bonus as part of 2016 international free-agent class. Will be 18 years old for the entire 2018 season. Will likely begin pro career at shortstop, but looks destined for third base going forward. Higher ceiling than most guys on this list.
10. James Nelson, Miami Marlins (2020 Age: 22)
Looks destined to outperform draft position as a former 15th-round pick. Hit .309/.354/.456 with 41 extra-base hits in 432 plate appearance at Single-A last year. Physical projection remaining in his 6’2″, 180-pound frame. Should be a solid defender who provides a good mix of average and power.