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House of Shlain: Moving Pieces

Nick Shlain

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

The offseason is in full swing and teams are reshaping their rosters for next year, so it's time to take a look at a few prospects that teams seem to have in their plans for everyday jobs in 2014.

Kolten Wong, 2B, Cardinals

The Cardinals traded third baseman David Freese and will fill the position with Matt Carpenter, opening up the keystone for Kolten Wong. Now 23 years, the former first-round pick (2011) hit .303/.369/.466 in 463 plate appearances with Triple-A Memphis in 2013. Wong isn't going to hit for that type of power at the top level, but he's a good contact hitter to all fields. (I'd probably take the under on 10 home runs during the upcoming season.) With that skill set, Wong will provide a decent batting average and possibly 25 steals. Wong has a good approach, takes his walks, and likely won't have high strikeout totals making him a solid option in head-to-head/points leagues.

Jurickson Profar, 2B, Rangers

Profar, who turns 21 in February, might be the biggest winner in Prince Fielder-Ian Kinsler swap. The trade obviously removed Kinsler from his path to the everyday second base job, but it also provided the Rangers' lineup with a left-handed power bat. Assuming Profar puts his 2013 behind him and can lock up one of the top two spots in the batting order, he could be the main beneficiary. Now, the Rangers seem to prefer Leonys Martin in the leadoff spot with Elvis Andrus behind him, but Martin had a .313 OBP in 147 games in 2013. That doesn't exactly scream leadoff man, but no matter where he hits in the lineup you want Profar on your team next year. With Kinsler in Detroit, he's likely to clear 600 plate appearances with a healthy season. This guy hit .281/.368/.452 as a 19-year-old in Double-A; don't let the subpar batting line in crazy inconsistent playing time in 2013 cloud your judgement.

Nick Castellanos, 3B?, Tigers

Also in the light of the Fielder-Kinsler swap, Castellanos has become a hot name. He's been a top prospect for a few years now and spent the entire season in Triple-A so he's ready for next year, right? Well, not so fast. The Tigers could move things around to get Castellanos in their 2014 everyday lineup in a number of ways. One of those ways would be moving Miguel Cabrera back to first base and Castellanos back to third, where he hasn't played in two years and isn't thought of particularly highly defensively. It's difficult to imagine the Tigers' defense wouldn't be improved with Castellanos at third, but still at this early juncture of the offseason general manager Dave Dombrowski wouldn't commit to Castellanos at third. The irony of the entire situation is that the Tigers initially moved Castellanos off of third base two years ago because of the Fielder signing, which also probably doesn't happen if Victor Martinez had not suffered a serious knee injury. Anyway, what this means for Castellanos' current value isn't exactly obvious this early in the offseason. With the payroll flexibility they have in the wake of shedding Fielder's contract, the Tigers can still go a number of ways in filling out their lineup. Castellanos hit .270/.328/.453 with a 37:77 BB:K ratio against right-handed pitching at Triple-A this year and will turn 22 years old before the season. As long as he isn't traded in a blockbuster nobody sees coming, I'd have to think he's getting at least four full months of MLB at-bats.

Kole Calhoun, OF, Angels

Calhoun is no longer a prospect, but he's not a household name and only has 79 games on his MLB ledger. With the news of the Angels dealing outfielders Peter Bourjos and Randal Grichuk for David Freese and reliever Fernando Salas, a spot in the Los Angeles outfield has opened up for Calhoun, a former eighth-round pick (2010). A polished college hitter from the baseball powerhouse Arizona State University, Calhoun owns a .317/.402/.541 career line in 1,578 minor league plate appearances. In the majors last season, Calhoun hit .282/.347/.462 in 222 plate appearances. He's not going to set the world on fire, but it's entirely possible that his performance in the majors last season went unnoticed making him a useful and underrated AL-only outfielder.

Quick Hitters

Gary Sanchez, C, Yankees: With the signing of Brian McCann it appears Sanchez is a minimum of two years away from his MLB debut. By then the Yankees could move McCann to designated hitter.

Randal Grichuk, OF, Cardinals: The Angels' current front office isn't the one that selected Grichuk in the first round in 2009 and there aren't many believers left in the free swinger.

John Wooten, OF, Nationals: This 22-year-old hit .257/.333/.430 with 20 home runs in 555 plate appearances with Low-A Beloit and was traded by the A's to the Nationals for reliever Fernando Abad.

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