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I’d love to double down on Joc Pederson as my breakout player again in 2017, but that wouldn’t make sense after falling short in 2016. This year I’m going to use Nick Castellanos as my breakout hitter. He has an ADP of 206 in the early 15-team drafts.
In 2016, Nick played well over the first three months of the season (.301 with 14 HRs and 42 RBI). He suffered a left-hand injury in early August after getting hit by a pitch. This led to only 23 at bats over the last two months of the season (three hits with one RBI). His best success of the year came in May (.284 with seven HRs and 18 RBI).
Castellanos needs to improve on his K rate (24.8), which was about league average in the minors (19.9). Over four seasons in the minors, he hit .303 with 35 HRs, 212 RBI, and 15 SBs over 1601 at bats. He came through the Tigers system with a line drive type swing. Last year Nick added more loft to his swing (43.0 percent fly ball rate) with some growth in his HR/FB rate (13.7).
For him to make an impact, Castellanos needs to hit in a favorable part of the batting order. The Tigers may give him a chance to bat second, but his walk rate (6.3) isn’t ideal. This best opportunity for Nick would be batting either in front or behind Miguel Cabrera.
Last year Castellanos had growth in his contact batting average (.390), which was his fourth straight season of improvement. Also, he set a career high in his average hit (AVH – 1.744). His success in power in 2016 projected over 550 at bats would be 24 home runs and 78 RBI.
His next step is improving as a hitter with runners on base (RBI rate of 14 percent in 2016). Castellanos did show more upside in this area in 2016 (17 percent).
I like his trend, and I could see a nice pop in production in 2017. Nick has a chance at 30+ HRs with a step forward in RBI production. I’m going to set the bar at .300+ batting average with a chance at a 30/100 season.
He’s a former first-round pick (2010) that looks ready to pop. Next season, I could see Nick getting drafted inside of the first four rounds.