Last Spring, Jeimer Candelario became something of a Cubs Cactus League darling.
Drawing 40 at-bats across 15 games (representing more chances than just about everyone besides the regular starters), Candelario slashed .350/.381/.675 (1.056 OPS) and tied Addison Russell for the second most extra-base hits (7) on the team.
His defense wasn’t exactly sparkling in the small sample (he led the Cubs with 4 errors at third base), but his stick shined brightly and, after having crushed it in the Arizona Fall League months prior, he instantly became a hot prospect to watch in 2016.
So, as the Cubs’ regular season began, Candelario headed out to Double-A Tennessee, but struggled quite a bit at the plate. Even still, the Cubs front office pushed forward and promoted him to Triple-A Iowa at the beginning of June. In his first 25 games, Candelario took off, slashing .333/.452/.600 with three home runs, two triples, and seven doubles.
After a brief debut in the Major Leagues, Candelario headed back to Triple-A Iowa and continued to rake. He finished the second half of the I-Cubs season with a wOBA over .400 and a wRC+ approaching 150.
On the strength of that performance, Candelario has been ranked as MLB Pipeline’s fifth best third base prospect in all of baseball.
As I mentioned during our discussion of Ian Happ’s third place ranking among all second-base prospects, Jonathan Mayo and Jim Callis (MLB Pipeline) has been going through each position on the field and ranking the ten best prospects at every spot. Already, he’s ranked the top ten right-handed pitchers, left-handed pitchers, catchers, first base, and second base prospects.
So today, we’ll take a look at the top third base prospects, and show Candelario some love. Here’s the list, as it appears (with greater detail) on MLB Pipeline:
- Rafael Devers, Boston Red Sox
- Nick Senzel, Cincinnati Reds
- Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Toronto Blue Jays
- Christian Arroyo, San Francisco giants
- Jeimer Candelario, Chicago Cubs
- Matt Chapman, Oakland A’s
- Miguel Andujar, New York Yankees
- Austin Riley, Atlanta Braves
- Ke’Bryan Hayes, Pittsburgh Pirates
- Hunter Dozier, Kansas City Royals
Be sure to check out the full list here, for individual scouting reports on each player.
Candelario, according to MLB Pipeline, is a part of the Cubs collection of positional prospects that is “unrivaled in recent memory.” In fact, MLB Pipeline considers the immovable object at third base – a.k.a. 2016 NL MVP, Kris Bryant – a shame, considering that Candelario’s offensive potential could have already made him a starter on many other teams:
A switch-hitter with a fluid stroke from both sides of the plate, he makes consistent hard contact and draws a healthy amount of walks. Most of his power has come in the form of doubles to this point, but he could develop into a 20-homer threat as he adds strength and experience.
Although he’s not very quick, Candelario is considered an average defender at third base, despite questions to the contrary earlier on in his career. Unfortunately for Candelario, he could also be a solid first baseman, but the Cubs have an equally immovable object there, in the form of Anthony Rizzo.
Even still, from his dominating Spring Training and Triple-A performances from 2016, to his improvements at third base, Jeimer Candelario is an exciting prospect to keep an eye on in 2017, and one of the top five third base prospects in the game.