Top 100 Prospects: Feeling The Heat At The Hot Corner

We posted our Top 100 Prospects list on Feb. 20. Today we’ll be rolling out a few other Top 100 tidbits that we discussed while pulling together the list.

First basemen or corner outfielders who do not hit for above-average power are typically excluded from Top 100 Prospects consideration, yet third basemen are not always held to the same standard. Maybe it’s because they offer Gold Glove potential or because scouts are confident about the player’s hit tool.

Regardless, third basemen who do not hit for power in the big leagues typically do not last long as regulars, at least not on good teams. Some recent examples of elite prospects with profile power for third base (whatever their other flaws): Mike Moustakas (No. 9, 2011), Pedro Alvarez (8, 2010), Chase Headley (32, 2008), Evan Longoria (7, 2007) and Ryan Zimmerman (15, 2006).

The average regular at third base in today’s game hits about .270 with a .435 slugging percentage and 17-20 homers. The Top 100 Prospect this year who faces the most questions about his power output is the Rockies’ Nolan Arenado (No. 52), who hit .285/.337/.428 with 12 homers in 516 at-bats for Double-A Tulsa. Though he’s an excellent contact hitter, Arenado doesn’t supplement his average with walks, nor does he hit for more than average power. His isolated slugging on contact (.162) hovered near the Texas League average, and despite his home park playing as slightly favorable for home runs he didn’t approach even 15 long balls.

Arenado has time on his side, but without a little more thump he might join the ranks of other third-base prospects who have fallen short to date, such as Zack Cox (No. 88, 2012), Matt Dominguez (81, 2011) and Brent Morel (85, 2011).