By Todd Johnson
In 2017, there will be a stud at third base for each of the Cubs’ top five affiliates. While first base and shortstop were a little thin and young, third base is one of the top positions in the Cubs system filled with power, solid arms, and the potential for five major-league players. The problem is only one can play third base in the majors through the year 2021 and that person is Kris Bryant.
Still, the current crop of corneman are assets to the organization. From Iowa down to Eugene, there are players who can hit the ball out of the park at a moment’s notice. That’s not something the Cubs have at every any other position.
5. Matt Rose – I had Rose in the first base profile and he should be the star third baseman in Myrtle Beach this year and it will be interesting to see how well his power shows up seaside at Myrtle Beach where the wind blows in almost every day. I think the key to watching Rose this year will be watching his road splits. He’s always had a good eye at the plate; he just had got off to a bad start in 2016 before regrouping and having one of the best months of the year in August when he hit seven home runs. I’m really excited to see what he can do in 2017. It doesn’t matter if it’s at first or third base.
4. Jason Vosler – Whenever I see Jason hit, he reminds me of Mark Grace at the plate. Not for the way he hits, but rather with the way he hits without any batting gloves. While Grace was a singles and doubles hitter, Vossler tends to hit doubles and homeruns. I still think he’s coming into his own more and more. He should begin the year at AA Tennessee. However his career path is going to rely more on what happens with Candelario than his own development.
3. David Bote – It is taking a couple years but Bote finally came into his own as a hitter last year hitting over .400 down the stretch to help Myrtle Beach to a second consecutive title. He could play third base, he can play second, and he has done a little bit at first, too. I think the Pelicans put him there for convenience, but like Matt Rose, Bote can play a little bit of everywhere. He will be at Tennessee in 2017 and I think he actually will play more second than third. What he showed at the end of 2016 was the ability to hit for power and to be a leader on the team. I first saw him at Kane County in 2014. He had an outstanding glove and arm and the bat was a little bit behind. He began last year as a utility man for the organization before finding a home in Myrtle Beach and taking off.
2. Wladimir Galindo – At just 19, Galindo is on the precipice of becoming the next major power hitter in the organization. Although he may not hit for as high an average as Eloy, I think he’s actually going to hit more home runs then Eloy. I think that begins in 2017.
1. Jeimer Candelario – Heading into 2017, the question for Candelario is not his ability, but will he be a Cub for very much longer. The switch hitting third baseman impressed many at Iowa in the second half of 2016. Chances are that even with Christian Villanueva’s release, Candelario’s ascension to Chicago is still on hold for the time being. There’s just no place for him.
There are some lower level prospects who could switch over to third in the coming years including Isaac Paredes and Jonathan Perlaza. It would not surprise me to see them play there at Eugene and Mesa this year, respectively.
The Cubs are extremely lucky that they have five guys who can really smash the ball at the corner position. I also like the fact that Bote and Rose can play other positions and that Galindo is only 19. There’s still hope for all of them to be retained as prospects for the Cubs, but I think Candelario’s days might be numbered. In spite of any potential looming trade, the Cubs still are pretty stacked at third.