Positional Preview Third Base

Players:

Cody Asche – 23 – MLB
Maikel Franco – 21 – AAA (1)
Harold Martinez – 23 – AA
Anthony Phillips – 23 – A+
Zach Green – 20 – A- (16)
Mitch Walding – 21 – A-
Jan Hernandez – 19 – SS (24)
Trey Williams – 20 – SS
Luis Encarnacion – 16 – Rk (15)

Positional Overview: Easily the deepest position in the org, third base has strength up and down the minor league system.  Cody Asche has secured the major league job out of spring training, and at 23 years old he has some solid years still ahead of him.  Behind him Maikel Franco was the top prospect in the organization and could be major league ready by the end of the year.  The strength continues down to Luis Encarnacion who was handed $1,000,000 by the Phillies when he turned 16 in August.

Future of the Position:  Given that I think Franco is the future at first base, the third baseman of the future is the third baseman of the present.  Cody Asche doesn’t have big tools or high ceiling, but he profiles as a solid regular at the position as soon as Opening Day.  Asche has a simple line drive swing that should generate solid contact and a decent amount of power.  In the field he isn’t going to win any Gold Gloves (or at least have the defensive metrics to be worthy of them), but he should be solid as he continues to get reps at the position.  Maybe he gets pushed off the position eventually, but it is going to take big development by one of the players behind him.

Franco’s Development:  After a couple of weeks of fawning over Maikel Franco this Spring Training, the fanbase turned a bit sour on him as the numbers weren’t there.  Don’t panic, he just isn’t ready for the majors, and with only half a season of AA ball, there is no reason for him to be ready.  The Phillies talked about his big swing when he was demoted, and what they are talking about is the exaggerated motion back in his swing (a load of sorts) that occurs before the bat goes forward.  You can really see it in this video when they slow down his swing.

The end result is that he is often either late or guessing, because he doesn’t have the time to adjust once he has started his swing.  In the low minors and into AA he was able to get away with it by using his great hand-eye coordination to still make contact.  But as I have written before the quality of that contact has deteriorated.  The Phillies will look to clean up the length in his swing, and while not a big change it will take some time for Franco to reestablish his timing.  The end result is that he needs more work.

So Zach Green’s Contact:  Zach Green struck out in 29.3% of his ABs a year ago.  That is really concerning for his future ability to make contact.  Some of the problems are his swing, but his biggest problem is that he can’t handle breaking balls right now.  In Williamsport this meant that he couldn’t come back when he was behind in the count.  Adjusting to recognizing breaking balls is a hard skill to predict a player to gain.  Green either is going to figure it out and the contact rates will climb, or he is going to be a three outcome third baseman struggling to make the major leagues.  The payoff if he can be at least competent against breaking pitchers, is at least a major league regular.

So the New Guys:  Last year the Phillies drafted two third baseman, Jan Hernandez out of the Carlos Beltran Academy in Puerto Rico and Trey Williams out of the College of the Canyons.  Of the two Hernandez has a much larger ceiling with a swing that could be conducive to both power and average, and as a converted shortstop he is on his way to being a could defender at third base.  Williams is a little more one dimensional with power being his calling card, however there are questions about whether he can stick at third and whether the bat plays anywhere else.  The last guy is 16 year old Luis Encarnacion, Encarnacion comes with an advanced feel for hitting and power potential, however scouts are really mixed on where he ends up defensively, as his arm and range are poor at third base.

About Matt Winkelman

Matt is originally from Mt. Holly, NJ, but after a 4 year side track to Cleveland for college he now resides in Madison, WI. His work has previously appeared on Phuture Phillies and The Good Phight. You can read his work at Phillies Minor Thoughts

14 thoughts on “Positional Preview Third Base

  1. Poor arm plus poor range plus poor arm say Encarnacion isn’t staying at 3B. He is in the competition for 1B or possibly LF. He may be competing with Franco at 1B 6 years from now. You list 3B as our deepest position, but if Franco, Encarnacion, and Williams are guys who likely must move off 3B, then 3B really isn’t all that deep and it is 1B, which is the deep position. 3B is basically Asche, Green, and Hernandez. I don’t see either Green or Hernandez being ready to challenge Asche in the next 4 years.

    1. Hurt again and slipping even farther behind. But given some others on the list, he deserves a mention.

      1. Getting hurt does not help him, but I would not dismiss Walding as a prospect. He might be the best defender of the full season prospects and did have a solid BB rate. If getting out of Lakewood helps his power I could see him being a .250/.350/.400 type player still. Lakewood just kills everyone’s offense, especially for players with some power. If Franco cannot stick at 3B he might have a window in a couple of years to compete with Asche before the younger kids are ready.

  2. Walding is an enigma. He has the ideal size and strength, and in batting practice he has the greatest swing and contact ability. But so far it just has not translated to live competition.

    1. Just give him some more time. Been banged up lately, there will be light at the end of the tunnel soon for Waldo

  3. Green was only the MVP of the NY Penn League at a very young age. You guys need to relax and quit worrying about some strikeouts. What do you want from a young player. Home runs and no strikeouts ??? Stay with all the positives. This kid will be a special player someday soon. Size, work ethic, brains, arm , defense, power. A true baseball rat, loves to play!

    1. In some respects I agree with you on Green and the critical emphasis on his K-rate. Last year someone mentioned the comp between him and Will Middlebrooks at the same level. Middlebrooks at 32% in short-season, and after two years in the MLB trending slightly downward at 25%.
      So it may be early on in Green’s career and he does have the abilities, so better to let it play out.

  4. Matt, you list Anthony Phillips as a 3rd baseman. The only A. Phillips playing last year was with Seattle. He played 7 games at 3rd the last 2 years and over 170 at SS and 61 at 2B. There is nothing there that even whispers 3B. He hit .259/.351/.400 but that was in High Desert. That makes him a .220 hitter away from the helium confines. Any idea why this guy was signed? Maybe it’s a different A. Phillips?

    1. Look at the rest of the infielders in Clearwater, unless they are committed to Carmona at third base there aren’t really other options to hold down the position. He was pretty much signed as org depth

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