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House of Shlain: The Early Arrivals

Nick Shlain

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

This week's theme is a focus on guys already in the big leagues as Matt Wisler is the only player discussed below yet to make his MLB debut. Wisler, 21, will likely make his MLB debut at some point this season in the second half, but without further adieu here's what caught my eye this week:

George Springer

After starting his big league career by going 12-for-65 (.185) with five walks, Springer went 6-for-14 with a walk, double, and his first big league home run (off Drew Smyly) in a four-game series in Detroit. Even in the last four games, Springer has shown at times that he will chase pitches that don't even threaten the strike zone and veteran pitchers will continue to take advantage of him until he can lay off. Still, it's impossible not to admire the way he plays the game. Springer goes all out all the time and he does it in a responsible way. On Wednesday, he went back to the wall in right field and almost brought back a Miguel Cabrera home run (it hit off his glove and went over the fence). On Thursday, he robbed Cabrera coming in on a flyball for a diving catch. He also ran hard out of the box on his first major league home run. I think he might have a hearing problem because the sound off the bat let everyone else know it was gone.

Robbie Ray

Ray beat the punchless Astros in his MLB debut on Tuesday and is slated to face the Twins this weekend. In all likelihood he'll be shipped back to the minors when Anibal Sanchez returns. If you were brave enough to start Ray in his first outing because he was facing the Astros, then more power to you. I certainly wasn't recommending it no matter how well Ray had pitched in the minors. With a solid start under his belt and a possibly Mauer-less Twins lineup on tap, it wouldn't be crazy to start Ray in deeper leagues in his second big league start.

Matt Wisler

After 30 brilliant innings in Double-A that saw Wisler post a 2.10 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, and a 35:6 K:BB, he was promoted to Triple-A. In his first start there, he was hit around for six earned runs in three innings. There's been buzz around Wisler and when he'll eventually get to the majors since he went on a late-season run at Double-A last year (12 starts, 2.18 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, 67:13 K:BB in 62 innings). Wisler sits in the 92-94 mph range with his fastball, but can push it higher when he needs it. He also has a great slider that's very tough for righties. There's more work to be done here, but Wisler just needs the finishing touches. He should be in the majors at some point this season, and stick in the Padres’ rotation for many years.

Rougned Odor

The Rangers desperately need help at second base until Jurickson Profar returns from a shoulder injury and Odor seems to be the answer for now. He went 0-for-4 in his debut Thursday, but Odor was hitting .279 with six homers and six stolen bases in 32 games in Double-A. It will be interesting to see if he can translate those skills on the fly as a 20-year-old in the big leagues, but Odor has maturity beyond his years in the way he carries himself. No situation is too big for him and he should fit in nicely. Hopefully, he’ll play well enough that the Rangers don't worry about rushing Profar back. Odor should be added in most deep leagues.

Marcus Stroman

The Jays called up Stroman to pitch out of the bullpen and has already flashed a devastating slider. Anyway, it got me thinking that with the Blue Jays still in contention (nobody is out of it in the AL east yet) and their bullpen in absolute shambles, would the Jays consider making Stroman the closer this season? I mean, what would it take? Another setback for Casey Janssen? Are we really just an old guy's back flaring up again from having the Jays turn to Stroman as their closer? Even with the uncertainty about his role in the bullpen, or a possible move into the rotation, Stroman is worth picking up in most redraft leagues.

Jonathan Villar

You might not be thinking about Villar much because, you know, he's on the Astros, but he's been one of the best fantasy shortstops this season. With five home runs and eight stolen bases already, Villar is displaying the tools that make him an explosive player. Defensively, he's a good shortstop with a strong arm and could hold down the position in Houston for years. He's currently behind only Troy Tulowitzki among qualified shortstops in ISO (.250) and SLG (.490). That's pretty good when you consider he'd be a valuable player based on his speed alone. I really like this toolsy shortstop, but the only problem is I don't have him in more of my leagues. Hope you guys didn't miss out.