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House of Shlain: Springer Has Sprung

Nick Shlain

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

So, George Springer? Was there any other way to start House of Shlain this week but by bowing down to our new overlord King George? Um, no! Springer has 10 home runs this season and all of them have come in May. The Twitter hashtag #SpringerDinger is getting plenty of use. People are starting to not treat the Astros like the Indians in Major League and while the rotation coming together nicely (Dallas Keuchel, Collin McHugh, Brad Peacock, Scott Feldman) has helped, Springer is absolutely crushing the ball and giving the offense a major boost. His homers have been deep bombs and rising line shots. He's destroying baseballs this month and making sure everyone who dropped all of their FAAB on him is getting their money's worth. In a year without players like Jose Abreu and Masahiro Tanaka, Springer would probably have the early lead in the AL Rookie of the Year race.

Maikel Franco

Franco isn't tearing the cover off the ball in the minors as he's currently hitting .238/.311/.370 with Triple-A after hitting a double and a triple in four at-bats Thursday night. However, Franco is still one of the top hitters in the minors and with Phillies third baseman Cody Asche dealing with a hamstring issue there has been more buzz in general about a potential callup for Franco. I'm obviously not sure that a callup will happen until it actually does, but it's not hard to imagine Franco being able to provide a bit of a power boost for fantasy teams down the stretch. Asche doesn't have Franco's power on his best day and with the Phillies falling out of the race, it seems safe to assume the organization will want to get Franco some time at the major league level before the season is over. Itís hard to say when, but I think he'll be up in the not too distant future.

Addison Russell

Russell is playing baseball again! After being out since early April with a torn hamstring, Russell played four innings in an extended spring training game Wednesday. He had two at-bats and played shortstop before he was removed as the organization is working him back slowly. Knowing Russell, moving him back slowly could mean he gets all the way up to the majors by the end of the season. Donít put it past him. I don't think anyone had him finishing 2012 in the Midwest League after he was drafted in June of that season and he did it. He also crushed High-A at 19 years old (.275/.377/.508) last season. Russell has an advanced game and there's very little he canít do on the field. Here's to hoping he gets back there soon.

Kris Bryant

Bryant in Double-A is unfair right now. In 52 games, he has 16 home runs, 14 doubles, and heís hitting .347/.451/.674. Is that even legal? Bryant is going Godzilla on the Southern League right now and it might not be so long before the Cubs move him up to Triple-A and eventually the majors. This is a perennial 35-plus home run bat anywhere and heíll get to call Wrigley his home. Sign me up because I'm sold.

Taijuan Walker

The good news is that Walker made his first minor-league rehab start Wednesday as he comes back from a shoulder injury. The not so good news is that the Mariners top prospect wasn't happy with his performance in Triple-A. In three innings, Walker allowed four runs and even gave up back-to-back home runs at one point. The really good news is that Walker feels fine after throwing 61 pitches in his first time on the mound in a competitive setting since April. I don't own any Walker shares this year as I was afraid the injury would hold him back, but thereís still plenty of time this season for him to be an impact player.

Jake Marisnick

After a pretty brutal April that saw him hit just .182 in Triple-A, Marisnick has been one of the hottest hitters in the minors in May. Heís hitting .395 on his current 11-game hitting streak and his slash line is up to .340/.374/.511 this month. Marisnick was promoted to the majors last year right from Double-A and it seems like he's starting to benefit from his time in Triple-A now as the production has picked up. Marcell Ozuna seems to have a hold on the center field job in Miami, but Marisnick could poke his head in there some time in the second half. He's a toolsy player and definitely one to watch for later in the year in NL-only leagues as Marisnick could provide a nice boost of power and speed down the stretch if and when heís promoted.