Third base is full of veteran options, and there aren’t a lot of rookie options, either.
Brent Morel looks to be the only rookie third baseman with a good shot at a starting job right out of the gate, but there isn’t any home run upside here, leaving his value as an injury replacement at best.
Mike Moustakas is the hot corner rookie to watch. Just like fellow Kansas City farmhand Eric Hosmer, Moustakas is capable of tearing up Triple-A pitching and has only Mike Aviles to contend with in the majors. It wouldn’t surprise me to see him in the running for American League Rookie of the Year. Anyone with a need at third base when June hits should not be shy about grabbing this bat.
Lonnie Chisenhall has a lot to prove still, but has the talent to make his mark on Cleveland’s lineup by midseason. He has more upside than Morel.
Matt Dominguez is the only other third baseman I could see turning heads. I’m not a fan, but his defense is an asset, and his bat still has potential. He has more upside than Morel, too, and only has Wes Helms and his lack of development holding him back.
Looking at some young non-rookies, Pedro Alvarez has a chance to lay waste to his average draft position. He has special power potential. David Freese and Danny Valencia aren’t being counted on to start, but both could be fine injury replacements if the time comes.
Outfield is usually a position where rookies can make an impact across the league, but there isn’t a lot of advanced talent with an obvious window of opportunity this year. Guys like Eric Hosmer, Chris Carter, and Yonder Alonso might successfully transition from first base, but they were talked about in part one of this series.
Domonic Brown is the hot rookie that everyone wanted to take a shot on, but his hand surgery should temper expectations. Don’t reach for him in the middle rounds. If he’s there late in the game, take your shot.
Desmond Jennings is next in the rookie outfield pecking order, but will likely start the year in Triple-A. Just like any top-50 prospect who is one step from the majors, keep your eye on him. A hot start that leads to a midseason promotion could land you a key piece to a championship run.
That doesn’t leave much else. Michael Taylor, Andrew Lambo, and Josh Reddick are part of a group that seem to be age- and experience-appropriate for this list but are long shots to get any extended big league playing time. Nick Weglarz could push his way to the majors, where he should prove to be a better real-life player than fantasy asset, but his power could surprise.
Turning to some young non-rookies, I have a good feeling about Colby Rasmus this year and have him ranked higher than everyone I have talked to. You’re out of your mind if you’re ranking the likes of Shane Victorino, Corey Hart, and even Andre Ethier ahead of Rasmus.
Adam Jones isn’t getting the attention he deserves. His prime is near, and he has the talent to rake. I am finding myself to be a big Jones investor in my early drafts.
On a side note, Baltimore is my surprise pick to make some noise in the American League, yet their division is so tough I have them finishing fourth with 83 wins. By the way, I reserve the right to change that win total a bit as the season approaches.
How about a couple other guys not getting enough love: Dexter Fowler and Logan Morrison. There are second- and third-year former top prospect outfielders every year who break out. Jones, Fowler, and Morrison are prime candidates this year.
Add a tier-one stud to those three, or even tier-two if the value isn’t there, and I would feel very comfortable with that outfield heading into the season. Plus, you allow yourself to invest in sure things at shallower positions by taking Jones, Fowler, and Morrison late.
You should keep Cameron Maybin on speed dial as well, if he goes undrafted, to give yourself another breakout candidate if an injury hits your current crop.
Listen to me, here I am giving away all my draft strategies. Pitchers are next week.