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2015 Sleeper Series:Tigers Third Baseman Nick Castellanos

Tigers third baseman Nick Castellanos was one of the best hitting prospects in the game a few years ago, but struggled in his first big league season. Can he break out in 2015?

Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

Today, I continue the series where I profile some fantasy baseball sleepers that could help you win your leagues in 2015. Every year, fantasy owners are looking for that late round hitter/pitcher who could help them deal with underperformance from an early round pick, or with an unexpected injury. Some will be busts, some will help you along the way.

I like to define a sleeper as a player who is one of the lower ranked players in standard leagues who could come out of nowhere to outperform their preseason ranking/value. Last season, we saw plenty of players come out of nowhere to help fantasy teams including Charlie BlackmonDee GordonSteve PearceCarlos Carrasco, among many others.

I will begin with the American League East division teams, in order of the 2014 standings, and proceed with the AL Central, AL West and so on.

You can find links to my other sleepers below:

2015 Sleeper Series: Jonathan Schoop

2015 Sleeper Series: Yankees Starter Michael Pineda

2015 Sleeper Series: Blue Jays Outfielder Michael Saunders

2015 Sleeper Series: Rays starter Jake Odorizzi

2015 Sleeper Series: Red Sox Outfielder Shane Victorino

Nick Castellanos

Tigers young third baseman Nick Castellanos was once one of the top hitting prospects in teh game, ranking as high as #21 overall prior to the 2013 season and #25 overall prior to the 2014 season. He was rushed through the minors, making it to the big leagues at the age of 21, and spending his first full season with the Tigers at the age of 22.

Castellanos is still learning and maturing as a hitter, and he struggled at the plate in 2014, hiting .259-.306-.394 with 31 doubles, 11 home runs, 50 runs scored and 66 RBI in 579 plate appearances. Taking a look at his batted ball data over at FanGraphs, you see that he hit a ton of line drives last season (29%), and only 37% of his batted balls were hit in the air. Even worse was his 7.5% home run per fly ball percentage, so there is reason to believe he will turn some of those line drives into fly balls, and more of those fly balls will turn into home runs, as I expect his line drive rate to drop and his HR/FB% to rise to around the 10% range, which is the league average.

Castellanos is a big guy, standing 6'4" and weighing over 200 pounds, so he has the build to grow into more power at the plate. He is also surrounded by two of THE best hitters in the game in Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez. Watching two of the best hitters in the game should help him down the road, but he still has to execute at the plate.

He will have to work on make more contact, cutting his strike out rate and swinging at less pitches out of the zone in 2015. Should he do that, we could see Castellanos rise in our third base rankings. According to the early NFBC average draft position rankings, Castellanos' ADP sits at 240.54, and is the 21st third baseman off of draft boards in the early NFBC drafts.

Steamer projects him to basically repeat his 2014 season, and i think they are underestimating the type of hitter he can be. He is a perfect candidate for a post-hype prospect break out season in 2015.

Fantasy Rundown

If you are looking for more fantasy baseball, football or basketball articles or rankings, make sure you give a look at Fantasy Rundown, where you can find links to some of the best fantasy content on the interwebs.