But as Chris outlined, Roberts is no guarantee. It is entirely a possibility that Roberts has a regression in which case the D-backs have a problem.
Chris postulated that the D-backs would look for somebody at the trade deadline if Roberts did indeed struggle. That’s certainly possible but I don’t think GM Kevin Towers would be looking for a trade until it’s the last possible option.
Instead, like finding gold in Paul Goldschmidt (yes, I know that was too easy) to fill the void at first base last season, I think Towers would look for the farm system to provide a spark at third base if needed. So what are the options for Towers?
Wheeler played all of 2011 with the Southern League Champion Double-A Mobile Bay Bears. Wheeler is the only one of the three top D-backs prospects at third base to have played higher than Single-A ball. It is logical to assume that Wheeler would get the first chance. And it’s not like Towers wouldn’t bring up a kid right from double-A and completely skipping triple-A ball (see: Paul Goldschmidt). Wheeler was a fifth-round pick for the D-backs in the 2009 Amateur Draft and has played well at every stop. He had a .294/.358/.456 slash line for the Bay Bears last year and has always had a good idea of how to manage his at-bats. However, there are some questions on his fielding ability and upside for an every day starter.
Davidson would be my choice if it was a perfect world. He played all of 2011 with the California League Single-A Visalia Rawhide. Davidson was a first-round pick in the 2009 Amateur Draft. He has the most upside of any third-baseman in the D-backs organization and has shown that he has power to all fields racking up 20 home runs and an outstanding 39 doubles last year in Visalia in route to a .277/.348/.465 slash line. I saw quite a bit of Davidson last year when I lived in California and his swing is a natural power stoke and reminds me a bit of Billy Butler on the Royals. He is not polished by any means as a defender but has a rocket arm that profiles well for third base.
Borchering played all of 2011 with the California League Single-A Visalia Rawhide. Davidson and Borchering split time at third base and first base last season but it looks as though Davidson may win that battle taking over third base regularly this season. However, Borchering showed some legitimate power in Visalia hitting 24 home runs and 29 doubles for the Rawhide. He was able to maintain a very good .267/.332/.469 slash line. But considering Davidson has probably won the battle at third base for this season, I would assume the D-backs don’t see Borchering as good enough defensively to handle an every day job for the D-backs.
Ryal played in 2009 and 2010 for the D-backs accumulating a pedestrian .263/.318/.402. But he has shown he can play adequate enough defense and could be a cheap option for the D-backs if they decide that none of the three above guys are ready for the majors.
Same goes for Ransom. He could be a cheap option for the D-backs, as well. However, he makes Ryal’s numbers at the big league level look Ruthian with a horrific .220/.304/.383 line for his career.