Blue Jays vs. Yankees: Third Base Prospects

Comparing what the Yankees and Blue Jays 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 AL East farm systems.

The Two Farm Systems: Both farm systems are roughly in the same boat at the hot corner in that their higher end third base prospects are all at the lower minor league levels right now. The good news for the Blue Jays is with recently turned 23-year old Brett Lawrie manning the position there's no need for a big league third baseman anytime soon. The Yankees on the other hand are not in the same boat with Alex Rodriguez declining in production even before his second hip surgery this offseason.

Neither farm system has a whole lot of upper-level depth at third and it is because of completely different reasons. Toronto's Kevin Ahrens, a former first round pick, has not developed as much as the organization had hoped. The soon to be 24-year old has spent most of the past four seasons at the high-A level. And Mark Sobolewski, a fine defensive third baseman with good power, was lost in the Rule 5 Draft to the Twins this offseason. New York's Bradley Suttle had as high a ceiling as anyone in either organization but his battle back from two shoulder surgeries was lost when it was learned he needed a third.

Not only do both farm systems have their greatest long-term potential third baseman at the lower levels but all of them have struggled in the early going to produce numbers resembling anywhere close to their actual talents, including New York's Dante Bichette Jr. and Miguel Andujar.

Bichette hit just .248 with three home runs for the Charleston RiverDogs in low-A Charleston last season despite having above average power potential, a good approach at the plate, and solid all-around defensive skills. The 20-year old spent his first full season tweaking the load in his swing and he is looking for a bounce-back season in 2013 where he will most likely begin the year repeating the low-A level.

Andujar, a Dominican native who will be 18 years old by the start of the 2013 season, has arguably the highest upside in either organization at third base and yet he hit just .232 with one home run in his debut season with the Gulf Coast League Yankees last season after skipping the Dominican Summer League level entirely. However, he has shown flashes of great defensive ability, including a plus arm, and an advanced approach at the plate and good power for a guy with a slender build. How the power progresses will go a long way in determining his eventual prospect status, which does have the chance to be special.

Toronto has a pair of high ceiling third baseman of their own that have also been disappointing in the production department, including left-handed hitting Kellen Sweeney and right-handed hitting Matt Dean. Sweeney, a 21-year old former second round pick in the 2010 draft, has a great approach at the plate and above average power potential as well, but he has struggled to hit over .200 in his last two seasons while dealing with an array of injuries. Like Bichette though, he is just too talented not to turn things around soon.

Dean hit just .229 as a 19-year old in his debut season last year but he still has the great size, long-term defensive abilities, and burgeoning power potential that should keep him on everyone's radar for now. While the approach needs work, like Bichette he struggled with changing his swing around a bit too much last year but still offers a very high ceiling.

The Yankees have another high-end caliber third sacker in Matt Duran, a fourth round pick in the 2011. He struggled in short-season A-ball last year, hitting just .221 for the Staten Island Yankees but there were flashes of him being a true impact player on both sides of the ball, especially offensively when he hit. 288 with all three of his home runs in the final 21 games of the season. He has more to prove in the consistency department but he is still only 19 years old.

The Yankees have another potential high-end caliber third baseman in the form of Christopher Tamarez, a Dominican native who just hit a whopping .338 with 18 doubles and six home runs in the Dominican Summer League last year. The former shortstop is transitioning to third base now and shows he can handle the defensive duties, but while the power numbers have been great recently there is still a question mark as to his long-term power potential now that he's a corner infielder.

Toronto's Gabriel Cenas is very much Tamarez-like in that he's a former middle infielder making the transition to third base [and some first base] and while the present power is noticeable he too has some serious long-term power potential questions now that he's a corner infielder. The ceiling isn't quite as high as others already mentioned here but he's in the discussions of players to keep an eye on.

Gustavo Pierre is another former shortstop turned third baseman for the Blue Jays who offers a very high ceiling, including above average power potential and top-shelf defensive potential, but the consistency in his game is really lacking to the point where the ceiling being reached seems like a longshot at best these days. He did hit a respectable .252 last year in low-A Lansing and he's still only 21 years old, but he needs a breakout season in the worst way.

Toronto's Andy Burns, a shortstop who also plays third base, is in the mix but he profiles better offensively at a middle infield position as does New York's David Adams. Adams is the safest bet to reach his ceiling of any player in either organization and could be a solid big league third baseman, but he is better served playing second base where the offensive potential would grade a lot higher production-wise.

How Do They Compare In...

Power: Sweeney and Dean have the chance to hit for above average power down the road despite their lackluster power numbers thus far, but that is also the case for New York's Bichette Jr. and Andujar. Andujar in particular could wind up having plus power down the road given his frame, one which has a lot of room to grow. Throw in Duran and Tamarez, the Yankees have a bit too much here. Advantage: Yankees

Hitting For Average: Nobody has really hit for average yet among the better third base prospects in both organization so the numbers won't exactly bear it out but New York's Bichette Jr. and Miguel Andujar have the plate approach needed to succeed and only Toronto's Kellen Sweeney has that right now. Advantage: Yankees

Defense: Dean, Sweeney, Bichette Jr., and Duran all project to be fine defensive third baseman, but Andujar has the potential to be special. Pierre could be special too but he's also proven to be too erratic too often. Advantage: Yankees.

Speed: There really isn't a great speed third base prospect in either organization -- most project to be average runners at best outside of Andujar but even he is a question mark. Advantage: Even.

Overall Potential: Potential is a great word for this positional comparison because that's all there is right now in both organization. However, with David Adams able to chip in at the big league level at solid fashion if called upon and with the trio of Bichette Jr., Andujar, and Duran, the Yankees have a bit more depth right now. Advantage: Yankees.

Highest Ceilings: Miguel Andujar (Yankees), Dante Bichette Jr. (Yankees), Kellen Sweeney (Blue Jays), Matt Duran (Yankees), Matt Dean (Blue Jays)

Best Power: Dante Bichette Jr. (Yankees), Miguel Andujar (Yankees), Kellen Sweeney (Blue Jays), Matt Duran (Yankees), Matt Dean (Blue Jays)

Best Average: Dante Bichette Jr. (Yankees), Miguel Andujar (Yankees), Kellen Sweeney (Blue Jays), Christopher Tamarez (Yankees), Matt Duran (Yankees)

Best Defense: Miguel Andujar (Yankees), Matt Dean (Blue Jays), Dante Bichette Jr. (Yankees), Kellen Sweeney (Blue Jays), Matt Duran (Yankees)

Best Speed: Miguel Adujar (Yankees), Gustavo Pierre (Blue Jays), Gabriel Cenas (Blue Jays), Matt Duran (Yankees), Dante Bichette Jr. (Yankees).


Tigs Town Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\nThe Two Farm Systems: Both farm systems are roughly in the same boat at the hot corner in that their higher end third base prospects are all at the lower minor league levels right now. The good news for the Blue Jays is with recently turned 23-year old Brett Lawrie manning the position there's no need for a big league third baseman anytime soon. The Yankees on the other hand are not in the same boat with Alex Rodriguez declining in production even before his second hip surgery this offseason.
\r\n
\r\nNeither farm system has a whole lot of upper-level depth at third and it is because of completely different reasons. Toronto's Kevin Ahrens, a former first round pick, has not developed as much as the organization had hoped. The soon to be 24-year old has spent most of the past four seasons at the high-A level. And Mark Sobolewski, a fine defensive third baseman with good power, was lost in the Rule 5 Draft to the Twins this offseason. New York's Bradley Suttle had as high a ceiling as anyone in either organization but his battle back from two shoulder surgeries was lost when it was learned he needed a third.
\r\n
\r\nNot only do both farm systems have their greatest long-term potential third baseman at the lower levels but all of them have struggled in the early going to produce numbers resembling anywhere close to their actual talents, including New York's Dante Bichette Jr. and Miguel Andujar.
\r\n
\r\nBichette hit just .248 with three home runs for the Charleston RiverDogs in low-A Charleston last season despite having above average power potential, a good approach at the plate, and solid all-around defensive skills. The 20-year old spent his first full season tweaking the load in his swing and he is looking for a bounce-back season in 2013 where he will most likely begin the year repeating the low-A level.
\r\n
\r\nAndujar, a Dominican native who will be 18 years old by the start of the 2013 season, has arguably the highest upside in either organization at third base and yet he hit just .232 with one home run in his debut season with the Gulf Coast League Yankees last season after skipping the Dominican Summer League level entirely. However, he has shown flashes of great defensive ability, including a plus arm, and an advanced approach at the plate and good power for a guy with a slender build. How the power progresses will go a long way in determining his eventual prospect status, which does have the chance to be special.
\r\n
\r\nToronto has a pair of high ceiling third baseman of their own that have also been disappointing in the production department, including left-handed hitting Kellen Sweeney and right-handed hitting Matt Dean. Sweeney, a 21-year old former second round pick in the 2010 draft, has a great approach at the plate and above average power potential as well, but he has struggled to hit over .200 in his last two seasons while dealing with an array of injuries. Like Bichette though, he is just too talented not to turn things around soon.
\r\n
\r\nDean hit just .229 as a 19-year old in his debut season last year but he still has the great size, long-term defensive abilities, and burgeoning power potential that should keep him on everyone's radar for now. While the approach needs work, like Bichette he struggled with changing his swing around a bit too much last year but still offers a very high ceiling.
\r\n
\r\nThe Yankees have another high-end caliber third sacker in Matt Duran, a fourth round pick in the 2011. He struggled in short-season A-ball last year, hitting just .221 for the Staten Island Yankees but there were flashes of him being a true impact player on both sides of the ball, especially offensively when he hit. 288 with all three of his home runs in the final 21 games of the season. He has more to prove in the consistency department but he is still only 19 years old.
\r\n
\r\nThe Yankees have another potential high-end caliber third baseman in the form of Christopher Tamarez, a Dominican native who just hit a whopping .338 with 18 doubles and six home runs in the Dominican Summer League last year. The former shortstop is transitioning to third base now and shows he can handle the defensive duties, but while the power numbers have been great recently there is still a question mark as to his long-term power potential now that he's a corner infielder.
\r\n
\r\nToronto's Gabriel Cenas is very much Tamarez-like in that he's a former middle infielder making the transition to third base [and some first base] and while the present power is noticeable he too has some serious long-term power potential questions now that he's a corner infielder. The ceiling isn't quite as high as others already mentioned here but he's in the discussions of players to keep an eye on.
\r\n
\r\nGustavo Pierre is another former shortstop turned third baseman for the Blue Jays who offers a very high ceiling, including above average power potential and top-shelf defensive potential, but the consistency in his game is really lacking to the point where the ceiling being reached seems like a longshot at best these days. He did hit a respectable .252 last year in low-A Lansing and he's still only 21 years old, but he needs a breakout season in the worst way.
\r\n
\r\nToronto's Andy Burns, a shortstop who also plays third base, is in the mix but he profiles better offensively at a middle infield position as does New York's David Adams. Adams is the safest bet to reach his ceiling of any player in either organization and could be a solid big league third baseman, but he is better served playing second base where the offensive potential would grade a lot higher production-wise.
\r\n
\r\nHow Do They Compare In...
\r\n
\r\nPower: Sweeney and Dean have the chance to hit for above average power down the road despite their lackluster power numbers thus far, but that is also the case for New York's Bichette Jr. and Andujar. Andujar in particular could wind up having plus power down the road given his frame, one which has a lot of room to grow. Throw in Duran and Tamarez, the Yankees have a bit too much here. Advantage: Yankees
\r\n
\r\nHitting For Average: Nobody has really hit for average yet among the better third base prospects in both organization so the numbers won't exactly bear it out but New York's Bichette Jr. and Miguel Andujar have the plate approach needed to succeed and only Toronto's Kellen Sweeney has that right now. Advantage: Yankees
\r\n
\r\nDefense: Dean, Sweeney, Bichette Jr., and Duran all project to be fine defensive third baseman, but Andujar has the potential to be special. Pierre could be special too but he's also proven to be too erratic too often. Advantage: Yankees.
\r\n
\r\nSpeed: There really isn't a great speed third base prospect in either organization -- most project to be average runners at best outside of Andujar but even he is a question mark. Advantage: Even.
\r\n
\r\nOverall Potential: Potential is a great word for this positional comparison because that's all there is right now in both organization. However, with David Adams able to chip in at the big league level at solid fashion if called upon and with the trio of Bichette Jr., Andujar, and Duran, the Yankees have a bit more depth right now. Advantage: Yankees.
\r\n
\r\nHighest Ceilings: Miguel Andujar (Yankees), Dante Bichette Jr. (Yankees), Kellen Sweeney (Blue Jays), Matt Duran (Yankees), Matt Dean (Blue Jays)
\r\n
\r\nBest Power: Dante Bichette Jr. (Yankees), Miguel Andujar (Yankees), Kellen Sweeney (Blue Jays), Matt Duran (Yankees), Matt Dean (Blue Jays)
\r\n
\r\nBest Average: Dante Bichette Jr. (Yankees), Miguel Andujar (Yankees), Kellen Sweeney (Blue Jays), Christopher Tamarez (Yankees), Matt Duran (Yankees)
\r\n
\r\nBest Defense: Miguel Andujar (Yankees), Matt Dean (Blue Jays), Dante Bichette Jr. (Yankees), Kellen Sweeney (Blue Jays), Matt Duran (Yankees)
\r\n
\r\nBest Speed: Miguel Adujar (Yankees), Gustavo Pierre (Blue Jays), Gabriel Cenas (Blue Jays), Matt Duran (Yankees), Dante Bichette Jr. (Yankees).
\r\n
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