Over the next few weeks we'll be dissecting the top ten prospects in many different tools'…
Yankees vs. Mets: Third Base Prospects
The most big league ready third baseman in either farm system is the Mets' Wilmer Flores. The Venezuelan right-handed batter hit a combined .300 with 18 home runs [50 extra-base hits in all] between high-A St. Lucie and Double-A Binghamton last season. The closest thing to a sure thing offensively, he has a lot more power potential in the tank. Defensively though, he's merely average at best at third. His range is very limited and because of his lack of speed he doesn't project to play anywhere else well defensively outside of first base.
That is certainly the case with the Mets' Aderlin Rodriguez. Listed at 6-foot-3 and an ultra-conservative 210 pounds [he's more like 240 pounds], he has virtually zero range at the hot corner and frankly projects best at first base despite boasting above average arm strength. And while he's not nearly the same hitter Flores is for average, he has mammoth power potential. It's not just long-term power potential either, it's 'now' plus power. Think of a Jesus Montero type power-wise and defensively, but not nearly as consistent a hitter.
The Yankees have two high-ceiling third basemen who can actually play the position well defensively, including Dante Bichette Jr. and Miguel Andujar, the latter of which has the chance to be very special on both sides of the ball, but neither are even out of the low-A ball level yet.
Bichette, the son of former Colorado Rockies slugger Dante Bichette Sr., hit just .248 with three home runs for the Charleston RiverDogs in low-A Charleston last season. The 20-year old is both a much better hitter and a more powerful hitter than his pedestrian numbers in his first taste of the long-season leagues would suggest. He shows good plate discipline, patience, and above average power potential, but the swing was tinkered with too much last year. Defensively he's solid, not spectacular, but his agility and range are superior to that of Flores and Rodriguez. The only defensive question mark with him is whether or not he will physically outgrow the position down the road.
Andujar will be 18 years old by the start of the 2013 season and has one of the highest upsides in either organization at any position. The Dominican native hit just .232 with one home run in his debut season with the Gulf Coast League Yankees last season after skipping the Dominican Summer League level entirely, but he boasts plus arm strength, great range, an advanced offensive approach, and average to above average power potential for such a slender guy. He has an Adrian Beltre-like ceiling on both sides of the ball, he just physically has to get stronger in the coming years.
The Yankees continue to have better lower level, high upside depth in the form of Matt Duran, a fourth round pick out of high school in 2011. A .300 hitter in his debut season that year, he struggled his first time under the lights last season, hitting just .221 on the year. However, he made the adjustment and hit .288 with all three of his home runs in the final 21 games of the season. Blessed with a tireless work ethic, he has the chance to not only stick at third base long-term but potentially thrive there defensively if he keeps his conditioning in check.
Keeping the line moving of potentially high-end third base prospects at the lower levels for the Yankees is Christopher Tamarez, a Dominican native who just hit a whopping .338 with 18 doubles and six home runs in the Dominican Summer League last year. The former shortstop is transitioning to third base now and shows he can handle the defensive duties, but while the power numbers have been great recently there is still a question mark as to his long-term power potential now that he's a corner infielder. He needs to get physically stronger.
Both organizations have potential utility type players currently playing third base, including the Mets' Zach Lutz, Josh Satin and Dustin Lawley, and the Yankees' Kevin Mahoney and Rob Lyerly. Satin, Lutz and Lawley are essentially the same players; right-handed batters, good body types, solid average power, average hitters with sound plate discipline, and serviceable defense who can split some time in the outfield and/or first base.
Mahoney and Lyerly are quite different, not only between themselves but in comparison to Lutz and Lawley. Both are left-handed batters with average power potential which limits their ceilings as everyday big league third basemen. Mahoney in particular though is a defensive wizard at third, can play an above average second base, and a Double-A All Star last year, can draw some walks too. He has the best chance of the group to carve himself a career as a big league bench guy given his defensive prowess.
How Do They Compare In...
Power: Even though the Yankees have a lot more higher ceiling depth at the lower levels right now, it's all projection at this point. While Andujar, Bichette Jr., Duran, and Tamarez could change things down the road, the combination of Flores and Rodriguez with their 'now' power is just too much to ignore. Advantage: Mets
Hitting For Average: Again, the Yankees' lower level guys have the chance to hit for high averages down the road but they haven't done it yet. While Aderlin Rodriguez doesn't project to hit for average, Wilmer Flores already does and so do the likes of Satin, Lutz and Lawley. This is one category though that could quickly change over the next year. Advantage: Mets
Defense: Unfortunately for the Mets, they don't have one standout defensively at the hot corner. Only Wilmer Flores projects to be average and that's a best case scenario, and the Yankees have a number of fine defensive third base prospects right now, and that's not even including Mahoney below since he doesn't project as a starting type player. Advantage: Yankees
Overall Potential: Keeping in mind that only Wilmer Flores is a viable third base prospect defensively for the Mets [Aderlin Rodriguez will have to switch positions defensively], despite their offensive track records to date they simply can't overcome the depth the Yankees have of quality defensive guys to man the position, all of whom have high offensive upsides of their own. Advantage: Yankees
Highest Ceilings: Miguel Andujar (Yankees), Dante Bichette Jr. (Yankees), Wilmer Flores (Mets), Aderlin Rodriguez (Mets), Matt Duran (Yankees)
Best Power: Aderlin Rodriguez (Mets), Wilmer Flores (Mets), Dante Bichette Jr. (Yankees), Miguel Andujar (Yankees), Matt Duran (Yankees)
Best Average: Wilmer Flores (Mets), Dante Bichette Jr. (Yankees), Miguel Andujar (Yankees), Christopher Tamarez (Yankees), Matt Duran (Yankees)
Best Defense: Miguel Andujar (Yankees), Dante Bichette Jr. (Yankees), Matt Duran (Yankees), Christopher Tamarez (Yankees), Wilmer Flores (Mets)
Best Speed: Miguel Adujar (Yankees), Matt Duran (Yankees), Dante Bichette Jr. (Yankees), Christopher Tamarez (Yankees), Zach Lutz (Mets)
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