Top 5 Prospects: Third Base

The Orioles' minor leagues have some star-power at third base in the form of 2006 1st round pick Billy Rowell. They've added a bit of depth at the hot corner in their past two drafts. Find out who ranks where inside.

1) Billy Rowell - (Delmarva Shorebirds) - (91 G, 352 AB, .273/.335/.426)

By all accounts, Rowell's full season debut was at least a mild disappointment. His struggles with the glove are well documented, but he was supposed to be a polished bat with the ability to make rapid adjustments. Still, he was only 18 years old this season and playing in a very pitcher-friendly context. His ceiling remains huge, but he'll have to show more next year to prove his bat is ready for the likely move across the diamond defensively. Hanging in against good off-speed stuff from fellow southpaws and not chasing bad pitches will be priorities.

2) Tyler Kolodny - (GCL Orioles) - (43 G, 151 AB, .318/.406/.530)

The Orioles may have gotten a steal in the 16th round of this year's draft. Kolodny is a fairly big guy, especially for a teenager, but he has the chops to stay at third base. His coaches were most impressed by his work ethic and makeup and his contact skills are for real. Right now, his power is more of the gap-to-gap variety, but he could have a tick above-average power down the line. Kolodny faded late in the season, but that's not uncommon for draftees playing deep into their first professional season.

3) Jedidiah Stephen - (Aberdeen Ironbirds/Frederick Keys) - (42 G, 146 AB, .288/.329/.459)

Despite being a slick defender at shortstop, Stephen saw most of his action at third base this season. In Aberdeen, coaches wanted to give Tyler Henson a chance to stick at shortstop and when Stephen was promoted to Frederick, he played third in deference to Blake Davis. The experience at the hot corner can't hurt, as Stephen projects as a utility infielder. His glove is his ticket to the majors, but he did show a little bit of life with the bat in the New York-Penn League.

4) Ryan Finan - (Frederick Keys) - (113 G, 380 AB, .284/.386/.432)

Finan's year wasn't overly impressive when you consider that he was 25 years old, but he did well enough to get a shot at double-A next year. If he keeps up this kind of production, he'll have to stay on the organization's radar. He is a polished hitter with power from the left side. His range isn't great, but his hands are adequate and he has a solid arm.

5) Terry Tiffee - (Norfolk Tides) - (124 G, 475 AB, .272/.307/.394)

Tiffee was once a top prospect in the Twins organization, but they let him go to the O's via minor league free agency this past off-season. Even considering the harsh hitting environment down in Norfolk, Tiffee's season was unremarkable. He did have a great July, posting a .907 OPS. He's adequate at third base, but his ticket to the majors might be as a four corners super-sub. Even at that, he'll have to hit more like he did in 2003-4 to get a clean shot at a major league role, but the potential is there.

Michael Hollman is the Senior Writer for Inside The warehouse and can be reached via e-mail at Publisher@InsideTheWarehouse.com


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