1/25/2013 10:05 A.M. ET
Prospect Watch: Top 10 third basemen
Twins' Sano, Rangers' Olt, Nats' Rendon most promising young players at hot corner
By Jonathan Mayo / MLB.com
MLB.com's 2013 Top 100 list will be unveiled on Tuesday on MLB.com and during on a one-hour show on MLB Network that airs at 9 p.m. ET. Leading up to that, MLB.com takes a look at baseball's Top 10 prospects at each position.
The first four on this year's Top 10 third basemen list are the same as in 2012, but the order has changed. Two others are repeat performers. Two from the 2012 list have graduated to the Major League and two have changed positions, giving this year's edition four new names.
1. Miguel Sano, Twins: After a long signing process, documented in the film "Pelotero," Sano signed with the Twins in 2009 for $3.15 million. Sano has moved slowly through pro ball, playing last season in Class A. Sano has plus-plus power to all fields, and his plate discipline has improved greatly since his arrival from the Dominican Republic. Defensively, he has a great arm but work remains for him at third base. His bat will play anywhere, however, and the Twins expect him to develop into an elite, middle-of-the-order power hitter.
2. Mike Olt, Rangers: Taken 49th overall in the 2010 Draft out of the University of Connecticut, Olt moved quickly through the Rangers system, spending most of 2012 in Double-A and getting into 16 games with Texas. Olt shows a good approach at the plate to go along with plus power. Although he is excellent defensively, the 2012 Futures Gamer and Texas League All-Star is blocked at third base by Adrian Beltre and has shown that he can play first or an outfield corner, where his bat will profile just fine. Olt is athletic enough to play multiple positions for the Rangers.
3. Anthony Rendon, Nationals: Rendon was in consideration for the No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 Draft when injury concerns caused him to fall to No. 6, where the Nationals were thrilled to nab him and sign him to a $7.2 million big league contract. Injuries struck again in his first full season as he missed much of the 2012 season. The Rice product made up for some lost time in the Arizona Fall League, where he played in the Rising Stars Game. Despite the injuries, Rendon still has one of the most advanced bats in the Minors and he should hit for average and power as he progresses. An outstanding defender, it remains to be seen how the Nationals will work his bat into the lineup with Ryan Zimmerman entrenched at third.
4. Nolan Arenado, Rockies: The Rockies took Arenado in the second round of the 2009 Draft out of the Southern California high school ranks and signed him for $625,000. A great 2011 season that culminated in winning the Arizona Fall League MVP Award led into a solid but less spectacular 2012 campaign, though he did attend his second Futures Game. While his power numbers took a step back, he still profiles to be a run-producing corner infielder and his defense has improved greatly at the hot corner, so most believe he'll stay at the position.
5. Kaleb Cowart, Angels: Cowart was selected 18th overall by the Angels in 2010 and signed for $2.3 million. The switch-hitter was a Midwest League All-Star in his first taste of full-season ball in 2012 and earned a promotion up a level. An Arizona Fall League Rising Stars Game participant, Cowart can hit for power and average from both sides of the plate and continues to improve his plate discipline. He's a good defender with an outstanding arm who at one time was a high school pitching standout in Georgia. He has a chance to be a middle-of-the-order presence at third base in the big leagues for a long time.
6. Matt Davidson, Diamondbacks: A California high school product who was a sandwich pick of Arizona's in 2009, Davidson has always shown power and run-producing potential. While he continues to strike out a good amount, his overall approach has improved, allowing him to become a more complete hitter. Davidson shared time at third earlier in his career, but played there exclusively in 2012 and looks more and more like he will be able to stay there. A Southern League All-Star in 2012, Davidson was that league's championship series MVP as he helped Mobile win its second straight title, the kind of winning the D-backs hope Davidson brings to Arizona.
7. Corey Seager, Dodgers: Taken 18th overall in 2012, Seager signed for $2.35 million as the Dodgers convinced him to forego a commitment to South Carolina. A shortstop in high school and during his pro debut, most see him moving to third base and making it his long-term defensive home. Kyle's younger brother has good defensive instincts and skills that should play well at the hot corner. He has an advanced approach at the plate that should allow him to hit for average. He's always had power potential and he has started to tap into it, with perhaps more in the tank. He could develop into one of the top third-base prospects in the game.
8. Joey Gallo, Rangers: Gallo could have gone to Louisiana State as a power-hitting third baseman and closer. But the Rangers convinced the Las Vegas high school product to sign after making him the 39th overall selection in the 2012 Draft. Few if any draftees had a more stirring debut than Gallo, who set a rookie-level Arizona League record for homers and was named the league's MVP. He has work to do as a hitter -- while he takes a good number of walks, he needs to bring his strikeout rate down. A plus arm that fired mid-to-upper 90s fastballs from the mound works well at third, and he was working to improve the other facets of his defensive game. How he sharpens his other tools to go along with his plus-plus power will help determine just how good a player Gallo becomes.
top 10 third-base prospects
|1||Nolan Arenado, COL||1||Mike Moustakas, KC|
|2||Miguel Sano, MIN||2||Lonnie Chisenhall, CLE|
|3||Anthony Rendon, WAS||3||Brent Morel, CWS|
|4||Mike Olt, TEX||4||Matt Dominguez, FLA|
|5||Nick Castellanos, DET||5||Miguel Sano, MIN|
|6||Will Middlebrooks, BOS||6||Bobby Borchering, ARI|
|7||Jedd Gyorko, SD||7||Josh Vitters, CHC|
|8||Matt Dominguez, MIA||8||Zack Cox, STL|
|9||Wilmer Flores, NYM||9||Kaleb Cowart, LAA|
|10||Zack Cox, STL||10||Nick Castellanos, DET|
9. Wilmer Flores, Mets: Signed out of Venezuela in 2007 for $750,000, Flores had trouble getting out of A-ball but took a big step forward in 2012. A two-time Futures Game participant, he earned a promotion to Double-A and hit well there, starting to show power and plate discipline and turning potential into performance. A shortstop for much of his career, he shifted to third in 2012, though he dabbled a bit at second base as well. His feel for hitting should help him get to the big leagues. Where his long-term defensive home is remains to be seen.
10. Cheslor Cuthbert, Royals: The Royals have been very aggressive in acquiring amateur talent, both via the Draft and international signings, and Cuthbert is no exception. Kansas City gave the Nicaraguan infielder $1.4 million in 2009. He held his own in his full-season debut in 2011, and while his numbers slid a bit with a move up to the Carolina League in 2012, he is very young for his level. He has plus power potential, though he hasn't yet learned to tap into it consistently, something that will come with improved plate discipline. A good defender with a strong arm, Cuthbert will be able to stay at the hot corner. If he can find consistency at the plate, his star should rise.