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House of Shlain: Earning His Stripes

Nick Shlain

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

He isn't really a prospect anymore, but there's no chance I'm going to pass on leading off with J.D. Martinez, who has gone from released by the Astros to Tigers No. 5 hitter in a matter of months. Martinez has come on at exactly the right time as Torii Hunter has missed a handful of games with a hamstring cramp, and Austin Jackson hasn't been hitting. If you follow me on Twitter, maybe you know that on June 13th I posted a picture of virtual JD-Mart hoisting the World Series trophy.

Since that picture went up, the real Martinez is hitting .481/.464/1.037 in 28 plate appearances with four home runs, three doubles, 11 RBI, six runs, and only five strikeouts. He appears to have reinvented his swing and just about everything off of his bat is crushed these days (his LD% is 27.6). I made a realistic trade offer for Martinez in one of my AL-Only leagues Friday and the response I got back was just, "No, I can't trade him, he's my pickup of the century." Well, there you have it.

Kris Bryant

Bryant hadn't hit a home run since June 9 at Double-A, so the Cubs moved him up to Triple-A and he hit a two-run shot to right field in his first game there. That gives Bryant 23 homers between two levels, and before his promotion he was slugging .702 in 68 games with Double-A. Now that he's with Triple-A Iowa, the call-up watch has ramped up, but I imagine he'll get a decent look at the pitching down there and we'll be seeing his MLB debut in September at the earliest. Nearly everything about the way the Cubs have handled Bryant to this point has hinted towards having him as one of their everyday players in 2015. It's good news that in 100 professional games Bryant has played 95 at third base and five as a designated hitter. A move to the outfield could still come later in his career, but having him eligible at third base next year adds to his value.

Andrew Heaney

For some reason Heaney was slept on by many until the middle of last season. We have to remember that this lefty was selected ninth overall in 2012 and has had a lot of success in his brief minor league career (199 IP, 198 K, 2.31 ERA, 1.12 WHIP). Heaney more than held his own in his MLB debut Thursday against the Mets as the only run he allowed came on a first inning solo home run to David Wright . He also got Wright to ground into a double play to end the sixth and final inning of his debut. Heaney throws a fastball in the mid-90s, has a plus slider, and an average change-up. He should be added in all leagues at this point, of course, but what will really be fun to watch is potentially how quickly he reaches his No. 2 starter upside.

Chase Anderson

Anderson is on the older side for a rookie (26 years old), but I hope you've been paying attention to what he's done in June where he's posted a 19:7 K:BB and a 2.63 ERA over four starts (24 innings). What's also impressive about Anderson's hot month is that he had it against good offenses and in tough parks: @ COL, ATL, @ LAD, MIL. Not bad for a guy the Diamondbacks drafted in the ninth round in 2009. Anderson isn't flashy, but it's tough to pick up his change-up and he repeats his delivery. He's pitched well so far and should probably be owned in more leagues. You could certainly do worse in deeper leagues and even in 12-team mixers.

Jesse Hahn

Acquired by the Padres in the trade with Tampa Bay for Logan Forsythe, Hahn looks like a good addition. In his second career start he tossed six innings of one-hit ball against the Mets, and he followed it up with a solid seven inning performance against the Mariners. In his last 13 innings, he's allowed one unearned run on six hits and five walks with 14 strikeouts. Hahn gets it done with a dynamite fastball and curveball combination. Given the ballpark he pitches in and the division he pitches against, I would recommend investing here in redraft leagues.

Kyle Schwarber

Something of a surprise selection by the Cubs at fourth overall, Schwarber was too good for the Northwest League as he hit .600 with four home runs in five games there before being promoted to the Midwest League. Not bad for a 21-year-old still getting acclimated to pro ball. The way the Cubs' draft will end up being viewed largely depends on how Schwarber does, I'm sure the Cubs wish one of the top three arms had dropped. So far the Cubs have Schwarber playing catcher and left field in games and it will be interesting to see if that continues next season. It does not seem to be as common for catchers to also play in the outfield occasionally like it used to be.