|Age||Likely 2015 Level||Top 50|
Third base has been a bit of a revolving door for the Phillies since they traded Scott Rolen. There have been some bad players, so horrible players, and some surprisingly good players. But, none of them have stuck around for very long. In 2013 the Phillies brought up their first homegrown third baseman since Rolen in 2011 in 2011 4th rounder Cody Asche. Asche hit just ok in his first season, and does not appear to be the long term answer at the position either. This has left the hopes of Phillies fans pinned to 22 year old Maikel Franco. In 2013 Franco hit 31 home runs between hi-A and AA, sparking hope that he might be able to lock down the position long term. This past season took some of the shine off of his star, but he is on the 40 man roster and primed to step into the lineup at some point in 2015.
Best Prospect: Maikel Franco
Coming off his 2013 stats, there was little Franco could do that wouldn’t have been disappointing. While his numbers were down, Franco’s tools are still there. He is always going to be a flawed player, but he can handle third base right now and that will keep his value from cratering too much if he needs to go through some offensive adjustments. On offense the OBP won’t be there due to a questionable approach that has him swinging early and often, but the power is real. He is not going to be a superstar, but he could be very solid as soon as this season. It could be an up and down stat line for Franco, so don’t panic too early.
2014 Impact: Maikel Franco
The most impactful third base prospect is easily Franco, but since I already talked about him, let’s talk about Cody Asche. Asche was just ok last year, he hit like a guy who was not a big time prospect, but he really disappointed on defense. On offense I expect his strikeouts to trend down some, but the power likely won’t spike. If he was an average defender he would be a regular, but his defensive limitations push him to a bench role. If he can learn LF and 1B, Asche can be a 300+ PA bench player which is fairly valuable.
Sleeper: Jan Hernandez
Hernandez has fallen off prospect rankings after a rough statistical year. Don’t confuse the stat drop off for a lack of talent. Hernandez has good bat speed, plus raw power to his pull side, and a cannon arm at third. His approach is still a mess and he is inconsistent on defense. He is still really young and if he just puts some of his tools onto a field he can jump right back up prospect rankings.
Player of Interest: Zach Green
It was a fairly quiet year for the 2012 third round pick. He missed time due to a hip injury caused by one leg being longer than the other. When he came back he played first base in order to keep healthy, and give a spot for Mitch Walding to play. His stats were solid, but unspectacular, but he did cut his strikeout rate dramatically, but his walk rate also declined. Despite the low power numbers, Green still has plus power and a promotion to Clearwater to start 2015 will go a long way to rebuilding his prospect status.