Prospect Report: Jason Castro

In an offseason where mediocre catchers have received some fairly sizable contracts (Jason Kendall and Ivan Rodriguez, just to name a few), there are some teams who could be looking from within to ultimately fill their voids.  While everyone’s mind instantly jumps to Buster Posey, the Astros have their own catching prospect who could emerge before 2010 comes to a close.

Drafted tenth overall in the 2008 draft, Castro has quickly rose to Double-A in 2009, playing in 63 games there.  While he showed power earlier in the season (seven home runs in 207 at bats at Single-A), he wasn’t quite as impressive after being promoted:

239 At Bats
.293 Batting Average (70 Hits)
3 Home Runs
29 RBI
38 Runs
2 Stolen Bases
.362 On Base Percentage
.385 Slugging Percentage
.333 Batting Average on Balls in Play

It isn’t only that the power disappeared, but he showed very little extra base potential.  He had just 15 extra base hits, 11 of which were doubles.  While that could be concerning, his ability to consistently make contact makes up for it a bit.

In fact, his contact rate actually improved upon his promotion, striking out just 14.6% of the time (while walking 9.5% of the time).  Obviously, it’s possible that he struggles a bit once being promoted again, but at this point it surely is encouraging.

For a better feel for his approach at the plate, just see what Baseball America, who ranked him as the team’s top prospect, recently said about him:

“Castro has a sound approach at the plate, showing good feel for the strike zone with a knack for staying inside the ball. He makes consistent contact and gets on base by working the count and putting the ball in play to all fields. While he’s not a power hitter, he has a solid swing and is able to generate loft.”

From a fantasy perspective, you’d certainly like to see him develop a bit more power, but at this point he hasn’t shown any indications of that.  Even in a hitter’s ballpark, seeing him reach double-digits would be considered a success.  That certainly doesn’t say too much for his potential value.

Scouts have said that he has better speed than most catchers, but that certainly hasn’t translated into much (three stolen bases last season).  The fact of the matter is he is a catcher and he’s not going to give you any advantages in the stolen base department.

The average is solid, though unspectacular.  He appears to have the potential to hit in the .275-.300 range from the outset, as his BABIP is above average, but not overly so.

Figure he may see a bit of a decrease there to go with a few more strikeouts.  That’s going to mean a drop off in the average, but he should still be usable.

While he’s a good defensive catcher, from a fantasy perspective, do we really care?  At this point he appears to be a catcher with a decent average, but little power and no stolen base potential.  That means, even if he is recalled in 2010, he’s not likely to be very usable unless you play in the deepest of two-catcher formats.

What are your thoughts?  Could he develop into a usable catching option or is he better left for the waiver wire?

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