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House of Shlain: Checking In

Nick Shlain

Nick Shlain

Nick analyzes prospects for RotoWire and focuses on the Midwest League during the season.

Hello fellow prospectors, hopefully you took a look at the top-10 lists I did for every team, but today I'm changing it up. Here are notes on five players who all started the year as prospects and will end the season in the majors. The focus here is what they might provide in September as well as what the long-term future might hold for them.

Adam Eaton, OF, Diamondbacks

Eaton was the Diamondbacks' Minor League Player of the Year and Most Valuable Player of the Pacific Coast League in 2012 as he led the minors in average, doubles, and runs. He held his own in his September call to the majors before he was hit by a pitch and broke his hand. He entered this season as the fourth ranked prospect in the Diamondbacks' system by Baseball America and the club had cleared the way for him to start on Opening Day as Chris Young and Justin Upton were dealt in the offseason, but Eaton's season was derailed early on by an elbow injury. He's started just 30 games for the Diamondbacks this season and owns a .263/.340/.380 line with a 27:11 K:BB.

Eaton has plus-plus speed, but he hasn't been stealing bases this year (two steals in three attempts). It's obviously very important for Eaton to stay healthy going forward as he needs the repetitions to assimilate to big league baseball and it wouldn't hurt if he started stealing bases again. Despite a lot of preseason hype, his injuries have knocked his stock down a bit and it's possible he could be undervalued in drafts next season. His owner in your keeper league probably isn't married to him at this point, and you might be able to pry him away for a discount. Eaton is a speedy outfielder who could provide a solid average with good totals in runs and steals in the future.

Corey Dickerson, OF, Rockies

Scouts will tell you that Dickerson, an eighth-round selection by the Rockies in 2010, is a gamer. He shows up and plays the game the right way and other cliches, but he really is a nice little player. A few scouts have also told me that hitters hit and by that they mean that hitters hit at every level of baseball. Well, there's no place in the minor leagues where Dickerson didn't hit. His career minor league slash line over 377 games is .321/.379/.601 and in 43 major league games this year he's hit .278/.328/.454. Dickerson has become a more well-rounded hitter as he's climbed the minor leagues. He drives the ball to all fields instead of focusing just on pulling the ball. Dickerson has also improved defensively, where he used to be a liability despite his average speed. What do we say about Rockies outfielders? We like them because they play at Coors Field.

Robbie Grossman, OF, Astros

Grossman, acquired by the Astros in the Wandy Rodriguez trade last season, is hitting .318/.345/.464 with three home runs, three stolen bases, 16 runs batted in, and 15 runs in 26 games in August. After struggling mightily with Houston earlier this season, Grossman is riding a .416 BABIP wave to his first hot month in the show. He has some speed, but if Grossman is going to continue to produce even a modicum of this level of performance he's going to need to change his 31:5 K:BB ratio from August. You can't BABIP over .400 in the big leagues, even Yasiel Puig found this out and started walking more. I don't have the same confidence in Grossman to mitigate regression by walking more and striking out less.

Nick Castellanos, OF, Tigers

Castellanos hasn't debuted in the majors just yet, but the Detroit News' Lynn Henning has speculated that the Tigers will purchase Castellanos' contract and recall him before September to make him eligible for the playoff roster. Castellanos, the Tigers' unquestioned top prospect, is hitting .274/.343/.441 in 131 games with Triple-A Toledo this year after being exposed against right-handed pitching with Double-A Erie in 2012. He still has a decent platoon split in Triple-A (.852/.768) and his .326 OBP against northpaws doesn't bode extremely well for a big September. Castellanos isn't going to play every day in the majors right away. He will likely see the majority of his at-bats come against left-handed pitching as the Tigers can play Andy Dirks, Torii Hunter, and Don Kelly against right-handers. If you can stash him in AL-only leagues, go ahead and grab him, but looking ahead to next year, it may be wise to temper your expectations for Castellanos. He could be an impact bat down the line, but he'll likely face a lot of the same concerns about playing time and his ability to hit right-handed pitching next season.

Taijuan Walker, RHP, Mariners

As much as I'd like to see Walker, a first-round pick in 2010, put on a show while getting his first taste of the majors, I remain skeptical. Walker, who would have gone to Arizona this offseason had Justin Upton not vetoed a trade to Seattle, has a 2.93 ERA in 141.1 innings between Double-A and Triple-A this year. That innings total is already 15 innings higher than his career high last year (126.2) and given that Walker hasn't pitched more than six innings in a start in months, I doubt he has a major impact or makes more than three starts this September. He struck out nine batters in six innings of one-run ball in his last Triple-A start and he'll miss bats at the next level, but don't be surprised if he turns in mostly uneven starts with some flashes of brilliance thrown in.

He's worth a shot in AL-only leagues, but generally you aren't seeing the best a prospect has to offer as the end of his career-high innings total and major league debut intersect. Hopefully, this will be one of the worst paragraphs I've ever written and Walker will come up and shove it, but 51 hits allowed in his last 51.1 Triple-A innings suggest that he's a little too hittable right now. The good news for him and keeper owners is that he just turned 21 years old and still projects as a front of the rotation starter.