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House of Shlain: The Lost Year

Nick Shlain

Nick Shlain

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

Byron Buxton

After a collision that knocked him unconscious and forced him to the hospital with a concussion in his first game in Double-A, one of the top prospects in the game is going to sit out the rest of the season essentially making 2014 a lost year. Buxton played just 31 professional games this year, 30 of which came in High-A where he hit .240/.313/.405 with four home runs and six stolen bases. A wrist injury in spring training delayed the start of his season, and for the time being this outfield collision has derailed it completely. There remains a chance that Buxton could play in the Arizona Fall League this October. After missing out on all of that playing time, an appearance in the AFL would at least end his year on an encouraging note.

Kyle Schwarber

The best college hitter in the June draft, Schwarber has made it all the way to High-A already. Schwarber hit his 13th home run in just 63 professional games Thursday night, and he doesn’t turn 22 years old until March. He still plays catcher, but the Cubs are also playing him in the outfield and his long-term future behind the plate remains up for debate. The Cubs have so many talented young outfielders that one would think it’d be in their best interest to leave Schwarber behind the plate, but the concern may be that his bat is advanced and so far ahead of his defense that playing the outfield will accelerate his major league timeline. For a team with Javier Baez already in the majors and Kris Bryant and Addison Russell not far behind, it's easy to see why that would be important.

Shane Greene

Drafted by the Yankees in the 15th round way back in 2009, Greene is turning out to be the best starting pitcher New York has plucked from the draft in quite some time. In seven starts with the Yankees this year, Greene has a 2.93 ERA and 1.16 WHIP to go along with a 38:11 K:BB and three home runs allowed in 43 innings. New York is also 6-2 in his starts after Friday's win over the White Sox. His most impressive starts have been his last two. On Saturday, he struck out 10 Rays in Tampa on his way to giving the Yankees a quality start in a game the club would go on to win. Before that, he threw eight scoreless innings at home in a 1-0 victory over the Tigers. Greene is a great story, getting his start as a pitcher with Daytona Beach Community College, but he's also a great example of someone who worked on his game and made serious improvement. He’s always been a hard thrower, but lacked the command to move up in the minor leagues.

As Mike Axisa notes in this piece for River Ave Blues, the mechanical changes implemented by the Yankees player development team seem to have been the driving force behind Greene ironing out his mechanics and command. Ultimately, that led to Greene and his three-pitch (cutter, slider, and changeup) mix becoming the first Yankees rookie drafted by the club to post a FIP under 3.50 in at least 40 innings since Ron Guidry in 1977.

Mookie Betts

Betts has handled everything thrown at him this season very nicely. Double-A? He destroyed to the tune of .355/.443/.551 in 54 games. Triple-A? He still mashed .335/.417/.503 while moving around between the middle infield and center field. Then he was called to the majors, played very little and got sent down. Now, he's getting the call again, playing center field exclusively with Jackie Bradley Jr. in the minors, and the Red Sox have added Rusney Castillo on a $72 million deal. Given that the Sox also traded for Yoenis Cespedes, who is signed through next season, things seem to be getting crowded in the Boston outfield. It will certainly be interesting to follow Betts the rest of the way and see how, if at all, he fits into the team's future plans. The Red Sox need starting pitchers for next season, and now have a glut of outfielders.