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House of Shlain: Gausman Settling In

Nick Shlain

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

Last week at the tail end of my column I mentioned a few 2014 draftees and left out former LSU right-hander Aaron Nola. Guess which draftee I got the most Twitter questions about? Anyway, don't worry, I like Nola a ton. College stats don't mean anything, but this year he struck out 134 and walked 27 in 116 with a 1.47 ERA.

Judging by the way the Phillies are talking it's a good bet that Nola will be the first non-reliever to debut in the majors from this draft class. The Phillies like Nola's ability to repeat his delivery and throw any of his pitches (fastball, curveball, change-up) in any count. It seems like the plan is for Nola to begin his professional career in the Florida State League this year and advance to Double-A in 2015, but the organization hasn't ruled out Double-A for him this year. Hold onto your hats, he'll be pitching in the majors before we know it.

Gregory Polanco

He's finally here! How nice is it that we don't have to talk about when Polanco is coming up ever again? There's no need to stress over his arrival and there wasn't a whole lot of reason to before. If you drafted him, you knew there was a chance you'd be holding him into June before he made it to the show. It's better than what the Mariners did with Nick Franklin sending him down and up and down. If you go to Polanco's RotoWire player page you'll see that his rest of the season projections are pretty close to his preseason projections. I actually happen to believe he'll get to 20 steals the rest of the way and that exceeds both sets of projections.

Eugenio Suarez

In limited playing time, Suarez has acclimated himself to the big leagues nicely. He has two home runs in six games, though we shouldn't expect a lot from him in the power department the rest of the way. Suarez had eight home runs (and nine steals) in 54 games between Double-A and Triple-A, but, again, Suarez doesn't necessarily have the tools profile to have those numbers translate to the majors. He doesn't have a stolen base yet, but with Brad Ausmus' aggressive tendencies on the basepaths I could see Suarez contributing some steals. He hit .288/.360/.510 in the minors this year and will be produce a solid average. Suarez is still just an AL-only guy to add unless you're in desperate need of some average at the shortstop position in a mixed league.

Kevin Gausman

Gausman has pitched well in his last two starts, striking out nine and walking four while holding the opposition to two earned runs on nine hits over 13 innings. It's time for him to be owned in all leagues. I've always been a Gausman supporter, but after a rocky season last year and a bad first MLB start against the Tigers on short rest, it was hard to immediately trust him. If he stays in the rotation, it's time to start trusting him. I speculated earlier in the season that Marcus Stroman, Trevor Bauer, and Gausman could all have rotation spots by the All-Star break. We could be headed there and speaking of Stroman, he's pitched well recently, but it's risky to use him in mixed leagues with two starts on the road next week. Gausman changed what he was doing in that first start against Detroit over his last two good starts. He was actually using all of his pitches and not just the fastball. He was also able maintain his fastball velocity deeper into those starts. Assuming he stays in the rotation now, he should be owned in all leagues. In AL-only leagues, you have to hold him even if they send him down again. It's just a matter of time for him now.

Jose Berrios

Berrios is in High-A and just turned 20 years old. Through 12 starts this season, he's racked up 81 strikeouts over 70.1 innings with a 2.30 ERA at Fort Myers. Prior to the season, Berrios had a promising reputation. He was good for stretches in the Midwest League last year at 19, but he never put it all together the way he has so far this season. He has a smooth delivery and command of three above average pitches. His ultimate ceiling is still up for debate, he could be a second or third starter depending on how far he goes with his three-pitch mix. Berrios was already a fun sleeper keeper prospect before this year, but now he's become a very interesting player who might be pitching his way into the Twins' plans sooner rather than later.