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Nick Castellanos and Meeting the Hype a Bit Late

The Tigers third baseman was a second-tier prospect entering the season, which means we kind of forgot about him after his early struggles. Time to rectify that.

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

There are the big prospects, the Mike Trouts and Bryce Harpers and Byron Buxtons, who have every eye on them, who, even when they struggle, don't get forgotten about. The next step down includes the good prospects, the ones we care about, but if they don't produce for a few weeks or months, we kind of pretend they weren't who they were.

The best example of that level of prospect I can offer right now is Nick Castellanos. At the start of the season, with Prince Fielder in Texas and Miguel Cabrera at first base, Castellanos had a clear line on the Tigers' third-base job. He was an upper-level-but-not-elite prospect (Keith Law's No. 32 guy entering the season), but simply by virtue of having a full-time job, he warranted some attention.

And that's basically what Castellanos got. Some attention. We ranked him as the 25th third baseman entering the season, with individual rankings ranging from 16th to a sad little blank space. He went in the 200s of most fantasy drafts. We knew he was there, and we cared, but we didn't care care.

Then, when May ended, and he was hitting .233/.281/.356 with only four homers, we didn't even care that much. We moved on, and his ownership percentage plummeted.

June was good to the kid, though. He had three three-hit games in his first five of June, and eight multi-hit games in the month. All told, in June, Castellanos hit .337/.365/.520, bringing his season line to a way-more-acceptable .272/.318/.418. It's dipped a bit in July, but overall (and, yes, I was parsing small samples, so "overall" is really what matters), he's been acceptably decent. His season slash line sits at .263/.308/.399 entering Tuesday, and only eight third basemen have eclipsed him in all three numbers.

Amid his struggles, Castellanos fell to the low 20s in ownership percentage. He's back up to 29. He's less owned than guys like Jedd Gyorko, Chris Johnson, and Xander Bogaerts, none of whom really should be more owned.

Castellanos, a right-handed hitter, has struggled against righties, with a .286 on-base percentage in 206 plate appearances. That's a big strike against him. But against lefties, he's at .277/.354/.470, with half of his six homers against that side despite only about a third of his plate appearances coming that way.

Castellanos is, of course, hitting in a Detroit lineup that has scored 394 runs this season, good for sixth in baseball. He hits behind a first six of Ian Kinsler-Austin Jackson-Miguel Cabrera-Victor Martinez-Torii Hunter-J.D. Martinez, which should continue to offer him plenty of RBI opportunities.

We liked Nick Castellanos entering the season. Not top-third-baseman-in-fantasy like, but worthy-of-ownership like for sure. If the Castellanos in April and May is the Castellanos we're in for, then yeah, sure, don't bother with him. But if the June Castellanos is any sign of the Castellanos to come - and the June Castellanos was much more like the Castellanos scouts said we should expect - he needs to be owned in far more leagues than he is now.