Yankees vs. Red Sox: Third Base Prospects

Comparing what the Yankees and Red Sox have at each position in the minor leagues, we take a look at the crop of third base prospects in each system. Which system is deeper? Which prospects have the most power? The highest ceilings? Take a look at this comparison between the two rival AL East farm systems.

The Two Farm Systems: The ascension of Boston's Will Middlebrooks to the big leagues in 2012 and establishment as one of the better young third baseman in the league not only leaves a void of quality third base prospects in the upper levels for the Red Sox but it really dings the overall depth too.

As it stands right now, barring a position change for somebody like Xander Bogaerts, that leaves just Garin Cecchini as the lone Boston prospect who projects to have the realistic ceiling of an everyday big league third baseman type. The 2010 fourth round pick can really hit. A left-handed hitter, his patience at the plate is very advanced, he has explosive bat speed, developing power, and defensively the former shortstop boasts a plus arm and good range, enough to project as an above average defensive player long-term.

His numbers are little misleading. He has more power potential than his four home runs in 2012 indicates and his speed is way below his 51 stolen base total last year suggests. In fact, he's more of an average to perhaps below average runner than anything, and he has average to above average long-term power potential.

Outside of Cecchini, however, the Red Sox have more suspects than stone-cold prospects remaining at third base. Michael Almanzar is a toolsy player with very good power potential and an even stronger arm, but the bat has progressed more slowly than steady and he doesn't always appear to have his head in the game. There's some natural talent though and he's still just 22 years old, but time is beginning to run out for him as he begins to enter his sixth minor league season in 2013. It will be an important year for him.

Like Almanzar, David Renfroe, a former third round pick that received a $1.1 million signing bonus, just turned 22 years old this offseason and still has some time on his side. He too has seen slow and steady progress on both sides of the ball, but it's the offense in particular that has been slower. He still has the chance to be a decent hitter with better than average power potential, but it hasn't shown up just yet. Defensively he is like Cecchini in that he's a former high school shortstop that has plus arm strength.

The Yankees have a little more overall depth at third base of actual prospects but that's only because their higher ceiling prospects are younger and haven't had enough time to expose their proverbial warts. Dante Bichette Jr. is the Yankee version of Cecchini in that he is the clear top third base prospect in the organization. The 2011 first round pick did not have a great debut in the long-season leagues in 2012, hitting just .248 with three home runs for the Charleston RiverDogs.

Like Cecchini though, he has considerably more power than his meager home run total in 2012 would suggest and, blessed with a naturally patient approach and good pitch recognition, he's a better natural hitter than many folks realize. He is an average defensive player in the field with the chance to be above average, but he will need to keep his conditioning in check in the coming years for that to come to fruition.

The biggest wild card at third base in either organization is New York's Miguel Andujar. The top International signing for the Yankees in 2011 had a so-so professional debut season in 2012, hitting just .232 with the Gulf Coast League Yankees after bypassing the Dominican Summer League entirely. He has exceptional bat speed though, an advanced patient approach and pitch recognition, and he shows a lot of athleticism defensively, including a plus arm. The big question mark for the 17-year old will be how far his developing power will take him because he's a little skinny right now for a corner guy.

Matt Duran, a third round pick in 2011 out of high school, is a bit of a wild card too. He has raw plus power potential and displays some hitter-ish qualities at the plate, but he has been plagued by some inconsistencies lately, which is not too surprising for a 19-year old. He has a lot of work to do to keep his center to opposite field approach consistent and not get too pull-happy, but there's real talent here on both sides of the ball.

New York's Christopher Tamarez, their top International signing out of the Dominican Republic in 2010, is beginning to make the transition from shortstop to third base only recently. The 19-year old put up monstrous numbers in the Dominican Summer League in 2012 -- .338, 18 doubles, six home runs -- and he has raw plus defensive abilities despite being so new to the position. However, as good as his power numbers were, physically he still has to get a lot bigger to continue to produce at a power-hitting position.

Both farm systems have some other third base prospects worth keeping an eye on, ones that aren't real long-term solutions though. Boston's Kolbrin Vitek battled injuries all season long in 2012. He has the chance to be a very good hitter for average but the power potential is pretty limited, so much so that he doesn't really profile at third base long-term.

New York's David Adams, a second baseman, has only recently begun playing third base again [he played the position in college]. He has the look of a very good hitter for average and enough defensive abilities to man the position but, while he has much more power than Vitek, he doesn't have the above average power potential to play there everyday. He's better off at second base.

Kevin Mahoney of the Yankees is by far the best defensive third baseman in either organization, shows good power from the left side and a patient approach offensively, but it remains to be seen if the bat can be consistent enough to be in the everyday lineup. Able to play second, first, and even some outfield, he's probably better suited for a utility role.

How Do They Compare In...

Power: Even with losing Middlebrooks to the big leagues, Boston has three long-season league players at third base who have hit or can reach double-digits in home runs. The Yankees on the other hand have just one of their better prospects in the long-season leagues. Long-term this could change if Andujar, Duran, and Tamarez continue to develop, but for now Boston has the edge. Advantage: Red Sox

Hitting For Average: Only Cecchini hits for average for the Red Sox and really he's the only one who projects to hit for average. The Yankees on the other hand have a better collection of hitters at third base. Advantage: Yankees

Defense: With all due respect to Kevin Mahoney, Cecchini is the best third baseman in either organization among the legit long-term starting candidates. Almanzar and Renfroe are good, not great, but Andujar and Tamarez could be really good and Bichette is already solid. New York has a slight edge here depth-wise. Advantage: Yankees

Speed: Normally this would be a toss-up category because third basemen usually have very little speed. And while Cecchini is nowhere close to being as fast as his 51 stolen bases indicate, to give this to another organization would be an injustice. Advantage: Red Sox

Overall Potential: As mentioned above, the fact is the Yankee third base prospects are simply younger than the better Boston third sackers and haven't had a chance to expose their wars just yet. Cecchini isn't enough alone to make up the difference. Advantage: Yankees

Highest Ceilings: Miguel Andujar (Yankees), Garin Cecchini (Red Sox), Dante Bichette Jr. (Yankees), Matt Duran (Yankees), Christopher Tamarez (Yankees)

Best Power: Dante Bichette Jr. (Yankees), Garin Cecchini (Red Sox), Miguel Andujar (Yankees), Matt Duran (Yankees), David Renfroe (Red Sox)

Best Average: Garin Cecchini (Red Sox), Dante Bichette Jr. (Yankees), Miguel Andujar (Yankees), Christopher Tamarez (Yankees), Matt Duran (Yankees)

Best Defense: Garin Cecchini (Yankees), Miguel Andujar (Yankees), Dante Bichette Jr. (Yankees), David Renfroe (Red Sox), Matt Duran (Yankees)

Best Speed: Garin Cecchini (Red Sox), Miguel Andujar (Yankees), David Renfroe (Red Sox), Matt Duran (Yankees), Dante Bichette Jr. (Yankees)

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