“True Sleeper”: Will The Dodgers’ Alex Castellanos Be The Next Todd Frazier?

A year ago many people were projecting Todd Frazier to be nothing more than a super sub for the Cincinnati Reds. He didn’t appear to have a true position, though his bat was good enough to justify plugging him a few times per week. After a few injuries hit (including Scott Rolen and Joey Votto), Frazier suddenly found himself entrenched in the Reds lineup.

Could we see another similar scenario play out in 2013, this time for the Los Angeles Dodgers? It certainly appears likely.

The team appears primed to open the year with Hanley Ramirez at shortstop, Luis Cruz at third base and Dee Gordon in the minors. Conventional wisdom is that, when Cruz’ bat proves inept enough, the team will shift Ramirez back to third base and call Gordon up to man shortstop. However, is that really the only possible scenario?

What if the team instead chooses to look at Alex Castellanos? Having seen time in the outfield, second base and third base in the minor leagues, and having made his Major League debut in 2012, he already appears to be penciled in as a utility player for the Dodgers. Who is to say that, given his offensive potential, he proves capable with the glove that he doesn’t get the first crack at third?

Last season the 26-year old hit .328 with 17 HR and 16 SB in 344 AB at Triple-A. Yes, it was the Pacific Coast League and yes, his average was buoyed by a .390 BABIP. However, at Double-A the year before he hit .319 (.387 BABIP) with 19 HR and 10 SB in 354 AB.

Concerns about hs average are justified though a 20.9% strikeout rate vs. 11.3% walk rate at Triple-A is encouraging. So is the fact that he had 25 doubles and 7 triples, on top of the home run power in 2012 (in 2011 he added 21 doubles and four triples).

Frazier had significantly more experience in the minor leagues, and Castellanos played in the Pacific Coast League as compared to the International League for Frazier.  In other words, comparing their minor league totals is like comparing apples and oranges.

MLB.com, who ranked him as the team’s 18th best prospect heading into the year (as he has gotten little respect) described him by saying:

“Have bat, will travel… to any position where there’s an opening. When he received his first big league callup, Castellanos played the outfield. But the man who came to the Dodgers from the Cardinals in the Rafael Furcal deal has played just about everywhere, In 2012, in fact, he saw time at all three outfield spots as well as second and third base. It’s fairly clear that while he’s not a horrible defender, his best position is in the batter’s box. He’s never been great on the plate discipline front, but in 2012 he greatly cut down his strikeout rate and upped his walk rate, making him a much better all-around hitter. There’s always been a little power to tap into and he’s an average runner who will steal a base here and there. He may never be a big league regular, but it could be time to try to find some at-bats for him at the big league level as an offensive-minded utilityman.”

It is clear that he can handle the bat and, at the very least, should fill a role on the bench for the Dodgers this season. However, the consensus appears to be that he won’t be able to handle a full-time job.  It is a somewhat similar spot that we were in with Todd Frazier last season and, even if Castellanos does ultimately settles into a utility role his bat may be good enough to hold value in the deepest of formats.

What are your thoughts of Castellanos?  Do you think there’s any chance he can hold down a job for the Dodgers?  Do you think he can excel?

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