Cincinnati Reds State of the Farm: Third Base

Third base is currently manned by Todd Frazier at the big league level, and while Frazier has been solid for the two years he has been up with the Reds, he has also shown that he can play around the field a bit as well. That leaves open the option that another player could come in and play the position and move Frazier to left or even back to the super-sub role he played in 2012.

The Reds used their second round draft pick in 2013 to draft a third baseman when they selected K.J. Franklin out of Gahr High School in California. Franklin held his own with the bat in 2013 as he hit .260/.326/.364 with 15 doubles and a homer in 196 plate appearances. He has big power potential in his bat, though he is still considered to be a bit on the raw side of things. Defensively he really struggled at third base, posting an .811 fielding percentage. He is still very young and he has good tools, especially on the offensive side of the ball.

Seth Mejias-Brean split time between third base and first base for Dayton in 2013 out of need due to multiple injuries to other first baseman throughout the system all in a short span of time. At the plate Mejias-Brean hit .305/.379/.457, mostly at Dayton with 13 additional plate appearances for Bakersfield at the end of the season. He has good power potential, but hasn’t tapped into the home run power just yet. He has a good plate approach and has a strong contact rate. Defensively he is a very good defender who can make all of the plays. There was talk that the Reds would try him out at catcher during the instructional league, but until we see it take place in the regular season he will continue to be viewed as a third baseman.

Neftali Soto used to play third base, but struggled there defensively and was eventually moved to first base where he spent a few years. With Joey Votto having first base locked down for the next 10 years the Reds decided to give Soto another shot at third base and it paid off as he posted the best fielding percentage of his career at the position despite not playing it for several years. On the offensive side of things he hit .271/.313/.414 with 21 doubles and 15 home runs in 495 plate appearances. Plate discipline took a step back from the year before, as did his power output. He has plus power potential, but he hasn’t been able to tap into it at the AAA level to this point in his career after hitting 31 homers in 432 plate appearances in 2011.

Tanner Rahier took over at third base in Dayton when Mejias-Brean took over first base. Offensively he had his struggles, hitting just .222/.252/.320 on the season with 24 extra-base hits in 437 plate appearances. Plate discipline was a bit of an issue as he walked just 12 times while striking out 81 times. The strikeout rate was not an issue, but the low walk rate did hold him back as his aggressiveness held back some of his hitting tools. He has power potential that he was unable to tap into because of how aggressive he was. Defensively he was strong, posting a .942 fielding percentage at third.

Travis Mattair was the best defensive third baseman that I had a chance to see this season. He can make all of the plays and posted a .975 fielding percentage in 2013. At the plate he hit just .242/.315/.364, though he performed better as the season went along after a brutal April. Mattair has some power potential in his bat, but he hasn’t been able to fully tap into it at this point in his career.

Juan Silverio was a newcomer to the system in 2013 after spending his career with the White Sox previously. He spent most of his year with Bakersfield before getting 3 plate appearances with Pensacola. He hit a combined .287/.305/.474 with 31 doubles, 4 triples and 19 home runs. Silverio has good power potential in his bat and he has good defensive tools. His plate discipline is a big concern as he walked just 11 times with 109 strikeouts in 531 trips to the plate this season, something that must be improved upon. His fielding percentage was .917 on the season.

Henry Rodriguez spent some time at third base with Louisville, but he is not a future third base option and looks like he is being groomed as a utility play for the future. David Vidal came into the year as one of the top third base prospects in the system but he struggled all season and wound up being demoted back to Bakersfield where he was unable to turn it around.

Overall Thoughts

While the Reds don’t have a premiere prospect at the position right now, K.J Franklin could turn into one and Seth Mejias-Brean, Neftali Soto and Tanner Rahier all have the power potential to become strong prospects as well. Depth is good at the position with true third baseman up and down the system. The position does have plenty of question marks though at each stop with the different players who all have things they need to improve upon.

Grade: B-

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