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State of the Farm: 11/11/16

A look at the third basemen in the system

Dairy Farming In Waikato Photo by Sandra Mu/Getty Images

Positional overviews continue this week at (the original) State of the Farm, with third base being the new focus. Nailing down players at third base wasn’t quite as complicated as they were at second base, but there are still a few points I’d like to clarify for the chart below and beyond:

  • For players who were in multiple levels this year, I included the level with the larger sample size. If the sample sizes were both fairly large, I focused on the higher level.
  • These are players who are officially listed as third basemen. Some players, such as Conner Hale, saw extensive playing time at other positions, but I’ve kept them here at their original defensive position to avoid this series turning into a massive wave of confusion
  • The age listed represents their current age, not their age during the season. This may not seem like a big detail, but age tends to be a big deal when discussing prospects so I’m just trying to cover my bases here.

Alright, we’re all set. Here are the more notable third base prospects in the system:

MLB-Ready Group

The only player in this group you could make even a remote case for is Zach Shank, who put together perhaps the most complete season of his career between Double-A Jackson and Triple-A Tacoma in 2016. He put up a >.350 OBP at both levels and even managed to hit a few dingers in Tacoma.

That being said, he comes with some pretty hefty limitations. It’s difficult to put too much stock into his slash lines in 2016 after he ran a .388 BABIP in Jackson and a .351 BABIP in Tacoma. I don’t think he’d be a nightmare against MLB pitching, but I also doubt his ceiling in anything more than “brief, tolerable replacement while your regular guy heals a small injury”. And while he is generally regarded as an error-free defender at the hot corner, a lack of range limits his value at the position. There are things for him to build on and I look forward to seeing what he can do in 2017, but right now he is a depth piece and nothing more.

On the Horizon

Unless you want to put stock into Adam Law’s brief, but successful stint with Double-A Jackson after coming over from the Los Angeles Dodgers, the ‘approaching, but not quite there’ group for Seattle is empty.

Law will be 27-years-old at the start of the 2017 season, so unless you really feel like rooting for a late bloomer story, you should probably move on to the next batch of guys with me.

Way off in the Distance

This is where things get a little more interesting. Joe DeCarlo, the 64th overall selection back in 2012, put together what was perhaps the best season of his career, slugging a career-high .454 with the Bakersfield Blaze in 2016. It was the California League and Sam Lynn Ballpark had the dumbest dimensions so take it with a grain of salt, but there’s something to be a little intrigued about with DeCarlo for the first time since he was selected out of Garnet Valley High School.

Logan Taylor put together a strong full-season debut, putting up a 131 wRC+ in Clinton. The strikeouts are a bit concerning, but he’s worth keeping an eye on for now. Nearly the exact same can be said for Nick Zammarelli, who was brilliant in his pro debut with the Everett AquaSox. Zammarelli’s 23.6% k-rate could be better and his .427 BABIP is a teensy-bit unsustainable, but everything I’ve seen from him has left me impressed. If I had to pick one guy drafted by the Mariners outside the first few rounds to surprise people, he’d be it.

Then, of course, there is Joe Rizzo, the Mariners’ second pick in the 2016 draft. In all likelihood, Rizzo doesn’t stick at third base unless there the glove improves drastically, but has and forever will be considered a bat-first prospect. Rizzo has a great approach and his swing generates a surprising amount of power despite standing at just 5’9.

As far as prospect rankings go, Rizzo is the top guy at third base by a significant margin.

Overall, the Mariners are very young at third base. Shank is the only prospect close to ready and he’s more depth than anything. And even with the young guys, third base is a really freaking hard position to play at a MLB-caliber level. There’s a lot of uncertainty there, but there are a few pieces to be hopeful for.