Bradley Suttle: Suttle is a textbook case of why critics shouldn't get too bogged down with overall numbers, including age. The 25-year old is a career .270 hitter with just 21 home runs and a whopping 231 strikeouts in 232 career games even though he shows a lot more promise than the statistics have shown.
Plagued by bouts of swing mechanic changes and two torn shoulder labrum surgeries over his first three years, he never found a groove offensively until late last season when he hit .293 with 12 home runs and an OPS approaching .900 [including the playoffs] in the second half. His plate discipline has always been better too than the numbers have proven and he finally started showing that in August last year [.430 on-base percentage] when he found the balance between being patient and being aggressive. He has a ton of upside left in his game.
Closest to the Majors
Brandon Laird: Listed as a 'sleeper' a year ago because the power numbers weren't there in 2009, Laird squashed any doubts about his power potential by hitting 25 home runs in 2010 and hit .291 for the Trenton Thunder before earning a promotion to Triple-A in the last month of the season.
Though he will be getting some reps in the outfield this coming season to help improve his versatility more, the fact is Laird, while not a plus defensive player at third, is actually pretty solid in all aspects of the position; he has a strong arm, good hands, decent range, and he has become quite good at defending the slow-rollers and bunts. He'll be on the short list of third base candidates should a serious injury befall Alex Rodriguez in New York this year.
Jorge Vazquez: While his on-base percentage might be an issue long-term, there's no doubting that Vazquez has the power to man a power-hitting position like third base after he has collected 31 home runs in what equates to one full season over the past two years.
Defensively he's not a long-term answer at the position because his range is sub-par, but he has shown a knack for making the routine plays around him and he has a strong enough arm to play there in a reserve role. While he might not be the better fit for longer stretches like Laird would be, he has more than enough game to help out off of the bench at third base.
Fu-Lin Kuo: The now 20-year old Taiwain native is a smooth defensive third baseman who shows above average range, a strong arm, and soft hands at the position. And offensively he has proven to be a very consistent hitter for long stretches in the early part of his development.
|SOME David Wright QUALITIES: Like Wright, Kuo doesn't have the plus tool, but all of his traits combine to be quite good. (Photo: Patrick Teale/PinstripesPlus.com)|
Kevin Mahoney: When it comes to the three most basic demands of the position - power, defense, and an ability to draw walks - Mahoney has the goods to develop into a solid big league third baseman someday. In his first 130 professional games he has collected 45 percent of his hits for extra-bases, sports a .369 on-base percentage, and he is an elite defensive third baseman in every way.
The problem that soon-to-be 24-year old faces is whether or not he will get the opportunity to develop as a starting third baseman at the minor league level since it seems he is being groomed as a utility player now. Should he get that opportunity though and grab the starting third baseman job at Tampa this coming season for example, he could really surprise some folks.
Need to Make Their Move
Garrison Lassiter: The former AFLAC All-American in high school hasn't gotten off to the start he or the Yankees would have liked thus far, hitting just .240 with a pair of home runs in his first 147 games. Scouts liked his hitting potential a while back but that hasn't materialized yet and physically he hasn't put on the necessary strength to show he can stick at the position long-term. He needs to put together a solid season soon to get back on the radar.
The Jury is Still Out
Jorge Alcantara: What we do know is Alcantara was too much for the Dominican Summer League last year, hitting .331 with a .967 OPS before earning a late-season promotion to the Gulf Coast League. What we don't know is how he will handle the steady diet of offspeed pitches he's going to see in the United States, if he has the kind of power to stick at third base long-term, or if he has the defensive prowess to man the position consistently. There is some promise here, but a few too many remaining question marks as well.
Robert Lyerly: There was a lot to like last year in what was essentially his debut season after battling a hamstring injury and a sports hernia with the Staten Island Yankees in 2009. He hit a farm system-leading .312 with 36 doubles, but with just seven home runs from a power-hitting position and 33 errors to boot there are still some questions that need to be answered long-term. He'll need to show a bit more power at minimum to get squarely on to the prospect map.
Rob Segedin: Last year's 4th round pick out of Tulane got into only 22 games at the professional level in 2010, but he enters the organization already boasting some pretty special plate discipline and a polished swing. Few question his ability to hit long-term and that makes him a bit of a 'sleeper', but it remains to be seen if he can handle the defensive responsibilities there on a daily basis and whether or not he'll hit for enough power to stick there. Though he has a lot of upside, he has some things to prove in his first full season in 2011.