by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
There were high hopes for the Tigers’ Nick Castellanos entering 2014, as he was primed to move to his natural position of 3B (after being used in the outfield to get his bat to the Majors). However, entering play on Wednesday the numbers have hardly been impressive.
Over 166 AB he was hitting just .235 with 4 HR, 20 RBI and 12 R. We all knew that power was going to be a question mark for him (10 HR in 533 AB in ’12 and 18 HR in 533 AB at Triple-A in ’13), but the belief was that he’d be able to hit for a strong average, given a minor league career mark of .303.
Depending on which numbers you want to look at, you could either be hopeful of a rebound or discouraged that he’s destined to be a continued drain on your mark.
When you look at a player with a 31.5% line drive rate and a .289 BABIP, it’s easy to see that some poor luck is at play in his numbers. That’s not to say that he can maintain such a high line drive rate, though his split over the first two months is promising (34.5% in April, 27.7% in May). Even if he stays at the May level, there should be better days ahead in the average department
The Not So Promising
The bad is that not only does he currently have a 24.3% strikeout out rate, but his SwStr% sits at 16.2% (seventh worst in the league). That type of number is going to help suppress his average upside, especially since it’s not an unbelievable mark (20.0% in the minors since 2011).
Of course, it’s not like he’s posting a 30% strikeout rate (though with the amount he’s swinging and missing, that has to be a concern). Even at his current level, given his clear ability to hit the ball hard there should be better days ahead in the average department. Maybe he’s not a .300 hitter, but he easily could be a .270ish type.
It’s also not like he’s completely void of power. While he’s certainly not a 30+ HR hitter, at least not yet, and 25 appears unlikely, coming in the 16-20 range is not out of the question. He did hit 3 HR in April and is just a hot stretch away from getting back to that type of projection. Even if he simply hits 10 HR the rest of the way, with a solid average he should be a viable OF4/OF5 (he still has eligibility there).
You could argue that he’s not an ideal corner infielder, given the lack of true upside in any category, and that’s fair. Still, the ability to plug him in there if necessary adds a little bit of value as well. He’s got to be considered more of a low-end option for, unless the power suddenly clicks, but one to remain hopeful with.
Sources – Fangraphs, Baseball Reference, Minor League Central