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.