The Red Sox in fact have both the highest ceiling third base prospect in the form of Rafael Devers and the one closest to the big leagues in Garin Cecchini. However, as is par for the course amongst most of the third base prospects being discussed in this organizational comparison, both have legitimate question marks as to their long-term potential to stick at the position.
Devers signed out of the Dominican Republic in July of 2013 for a reported $1.5 million and did not disappoint in his debut season last year, hitting a combined .322 with 29 extra-base hits [including seven home runs] between the Dominican Summer League and Gulf Coast League. A left-handed batter, the 18-year old has all the makings of a being a plus hitter and already possesses plus power potential too. Offensively he is already one of the potential star prospects in the making. Defensively, however, he shows merely average arm strength, a tick below average range, and just okay hands. He has the offensive chops to be a difference-maker at the hot corner but there is already chatter that a move to first base seems more than likely down the road.
Cecchini, the 2010 fourth round pick who played shortstop in high school, falls into the Devers category as having the potential to be a plus hitter for average despite batting just .263 in Triple-A Pawtucket last season. Also a left-handed batter, he has elite plate discipline and a real knack for hitting line drives. Unlike Devers, however, the power potential is borderline average overall and probably a tick below for a power hitting position like third base. So even though he has the defensive prowess to man the position more than admirably in an everyday capacity, offensively his limited power potential doesn't exactly profile well at the position.
The Yankees have their own set of third base prospects who either have the ultra-high offensive ceilings and/or also have defensive question marks at third base and Eric Jagielo, New York's first round pick in 2013 out of Notre Dame University, highlights that group. He has long-term plus power potential as evidenced by clubbing 18 home runs in his first taste of the long-season leagues last year and like Cecchini he is a much better hitter than his .258 average last season suggests, but he falls in the Devers category as a limited defensive player at third with average arm strength, unspectacular range, and just decent hands. Like Devers, a move to either first base or left field appears more likely in the cards if he can't make some marked improvements in the field but he still has the bat to be an impact player at either spot.
Dermis Garcia, one of New York's high profile International signings last summer, is perhaps a physically bigger version of Devers and a more apt comparison given his plus power potential. A right-handed batter, like Devers the plus easy power to all fields has the chance to be special and there are some similar signs of being an advanced hitter too at a similar points in their careers. Garcia, a former amateur shortstop however, might be better equipped to handle the defensive transition to third base. He certainly shows a lot more arm strength than the aforementioned players but there will be a learning curve in the coming years that may take some time. Like Devers, Garcia will remain a question mark until he makes his professional debut but there is certainly an intriguing ceiling on both sides of the ball.
|QUESTION MARKS: Dante Bichette Jr. still has some more to prove. (Photo: Mark LoMoglio)|
Perhaps the top two best equipped third base prospects on both sides of the ball are New York's Miguel Andujar and Boston's Michael Chavis but even both of them bring some question marks to the table. Andujar, the Yankees' top International free agent signing back in 2011, and Chavis, Boston's first round pick out of high school last summer, both have the plus arm strength and overall defensive abilities to be standouts at the position, and both have the chance to be plus hitters for average with at least average or better power potential. However, Andujar stands just 6-foot-0 and Chavis at just 5-foot-10, leaving both with little room for physically getting bigger in the coming years. They'll have to prove their top-notch bat speed and ability to barrel the baseball will be enough long-term, but both are arguably the top overall third baseman in their respective farm systems.
The Yankees also have a pair of high ceiling offensive talents currently playing third base who already, despite their youth, have limited defensive potential and/or will physically out-grown the position down the road; Drew Bridges and Nelson Gomez. Bridges, a 20th round pick out of high school in 2013, is already 6-foot-4 and built like a slugger. He has mammoth power potential and a good offensive approach, but despite decent hands and solid average arm strength the range is already very limited and it doesn't project to get any better as he gets older and bigger.
Gomez, like Dermis Garcia, was one of the top International free agent signings last summer. Signed for a reported $2.25 million, like Garcia he has a cannon for an arm and really good hands, the kind of combination that could allow him to be a standout defensively. However, already 225 pounds as a 17-year old with the kind of frame that should only get bigger and already showing very limited range, like Bridges conventional wisdom suggests that sooner or later he will physically out-grow the position. Should he stick though and keep up on his conditioning, he has the kind of Devers/Garcia-like power potential to be a real slugging force at the plate.
Outside of Devers, Cecchini and Chavis, Boston doesn't have a whole lot of depth at the hot corner. The only real potential legitimate long-term starting third baseman type is Victor Acosta, a smallish 18-year old signed out of Venezuela back in January of 2013. He has solid average speed and perhaps even some average power potential, and there's a nice combination of patience and plate discipline, but standing just 5-foot-11 and weighing 170 pounds he is better served moving to second base, a position he has played as well.
The Yankees on the other hand have a few more 'what if' options like Acosta, ones who don't exactly have the huge ceilings or the difference-making gloves to be standout third base prospects but have just enough overall games to potentially find their way to the big leagues someday; Rob Segedin, Matt Duran, and Ty McFarland.
Segedin, New York's third round pick back in 2010, falls into the Cecchini category as one of the more disciplined hitters in the minor leagues and having just enough borderline average power potential to be considered a viable big league option someday. However, he turned 26 years old this offseason and missed a good portion of the 2013 season with double hip surgery, and recently needed eyeglasses. His leash is a bit shorter than most due to his age and the ceiling isn't nearly as vast as some of the others mentioned here, but there is still some big league potential that can't be completely written off yet.
Duran, a fourth round pick out of high school back in 2011, has played a grand total of six official minor league games the past two years while dealing with an array of injuries, including a stress reaction in his foot and elbow, the latter of which required surgery that is being treated like Tommy John in his rehab process. He showed a nice blend of average hit, average power, and average defense before he got hurt. He has a lot to prove to get himself back on the map but he should not be overlooked as potential long-term help.
McFarland, last year's tenth round pick out of James Madison University, is currently being tried out at second base and the progress has been steady there. He has some of the best plate discipline around and is one of the more consistent hitters too, but he has limited average or even slightly below average power potential and that is the main reason he is being tried out at second base. Even if the former college third baseman had to move back to his natural position he could potentially still have enough hitting ability to become a Matt Carpenter-like third sacker if the Yankees decided to go that route.
How Do They Compare In...
Power: Devers and Chavis give the Red Sox some real power potential at the hot corner long-term [if Chavis doesn't get moved to second base], but there isn't much power-wise at the position beyond those two. The Yankees on the other hand have both Jageilo and Garcia to offset those two, not to mention the likes of Andujar, Bridges, Gomez, and others. Depth-wise the Yankees have a bit too much. Advantage: Yankees
Hitting For Average: The Yankees have more overall depth of quality third baseman but all of Boston's third base prospects can really hit. Advantage: Even
Defense: This one gets tricky. Boston's best equipped defender, Michael Chavis, could get moved to second base. And Cecchini, the other better than average defender, could be moving to the outfield with the recent signing of Pablo Sandoval. Outside of Miguel Andujar though, New York's better defenders are either teenagers yet to play an official minor league game or others whose upside is merely average. Advantage: Even
Speed: There isn't a whole lot of speed in either organization at the position but with Cecchini and Chavis Boston has at least two guys who could potentially swipe 20-plus stolen bases with their advanced intelligence, instincts, and aggressiveness. Advantage: Red Sox
Overall Potential: Just like the shortstop position who eventually sticks at third base depends mostly on their defensive prowess. With that in mind, unless Devers can somehow develop into a better than average defender, Boston simply doesn't have enough depth once you cross out Chavis and Andujar [the two best all-around third base prospects]. Of course that added depth, just as is potentially the case with Devers, could wind up playing other positions down the road but the Yankees have a few more potential impact bats playing third right now. Advantage: Yankees
Highest Ceilings: Rafael Devers (Red Sox), Dermis Garcia (Yankees), Miguel Andujar (Yankees), Michael Chavis (Red Sox), Eric Jagielo (Yankees)
Best Power: Rafael Devers (Red Sox), Eric Jagielo (Yankees), Dermis Garcia (Yankees), Nelson Gomez (Yankees), Drew Bridges (Yankees)
Best Average: Rafael Devers (Red Sox), Garin Cecchini (Red Sox), Miguel Andujar (Yankees), Michael Chavis (Red Sox), Eric Jagielo (Yankees)
Best Defense: Miguel Andujar (Yankees), Michael Chavis (Red Sox), Garin Cecchini (Red Sox), Dante Bichette Jr., (Yankees), Dermis Garcia (Yankees)
Best Speed: Garin Cecchini (Red Sox), Michael Chavis (Red Sox), Miguel Andujar (Yankees), Eric Jagielo (Yankees), Matt Duran (Yankees)