Nick Castellanos could probably help the Tigers right now. But it's not his time just yet. (Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports)

Tigers Should Keep Castellanos in Toledo

The Detroit Tigers have sputtered lately, losing six of their last eight games and falling to second place in their division. Nick Castellanos, the club’s top prospect, is having his all-time best season at the plate. Naturally, interest from fans and writers has piqued in the idea of the team calling him up as an offensive elixir. They shouldn’t—yet.

At just 21 years old, Castellanos is the best position prospect Detroit has seen since Cameron Maybin, who went south five and a half years ago in the deal that brought Miguel Cabrera to town. The right-handed batter, recently converted from third base, is currently destroying International League pitching as left fielder for the Toledo Mud Hens.

Always valued for his bat, the concern in his development has always been plate discipline. This year, though, Castellanos’ walk and strikeout rates have both improved significantly. He also leads the league in doubles and has bettered his home run rate in a park generally unfriendly to right-handed power. Those are all promising signs.

But the Tigers must deliberate the actual substance of their need before promoting a prospect who is barely old enough to drink and has played only months in his current position. While he may be ready with the bat, the major league team doesn’t need him yet.

It’s true that their current left field situation isn’t terrific. Andy Dirks has been barely mediocre with the bat; Matt Tuiasosopo has had unsustainable success as his platoon partner and landed on the 15-day disabled list on June 20th; and Avisail Garcia has declined at the plate and in the field since starting the season off well. Taken as a whole, their left fielders have been just the 12th-best in the American League by on-base plus slugging percentage.

But that’s just one lineup spot out of nine. The Tigers have scored the third-most runs in the league to date, and their offense posted the second-best OPS for the month of June. Detroit simply doesn’t need offensive help unless they can find someone who can singlehandedly remedy their woes from the seventh inning on.

Further, a quick check of the standings shows Detroit still among the best teams in the league, in fine position to compete for a playoff spot. Their Pythagorean record suggests they’ve even played better than their record. Their situation is not dire, and thus they should not rush a promising player up, especially a month before the trade deadline.

So, do they need Castellanos to fill seats? Hardly. They’ve averaged 36,489 fans per game at Comerica Park, bring their total to 1,532,546, good for third-best in the league.

The Tigers should leave Castellanos where he is, and make sure he’s called up in time to be on their postseason roster.

Next Tigers Game View full schedule »
Friday, Aug 2929 Aug7:10at Chicago White SoxBuy Tickets

Tags: Detroit Tigers Nick Castellanos

  • Michael Nance

    I’ve never been a fan of letting your talent age in the minors. If you can outplay the person ahead of you then you should be brought up to the next level. If the move was done to fill the seats then it would be a wrong move but to counter your point. If it will improve the team and its not a move to drum up artificial fan support then why would you wait till Sept?

    • Matt Snyder

      I don’t think we know that it would improve the team. What’s a reasonable projection for Castellanos in the majors? .270/.320/.420? Something like that probably.

      Dirks’ RoS projections are roughly .265/.315/.400 and Andy is much better defensively.

      • Michael Nance

        Defense was not covered in this article so that was a point I was not commenting on. Never did I state that Castellanos COULD or WOULD outplay Dirks but “If you can outplay the person ahead of you then you should be brought up”. That is not my call. My argument was that if he is doing as well as he is now just answering the points of the article Why wait till September. If Andy is much better defensively and the numbers project the same then why MUST we call him up in September to be on the roster if that would then downgrade the team? If you put your opinions with that of Garret you may have a complete article and actually validate your points.

    • jumpsuitjohnny

      I’m curious Michael, have you seen Castellanos on defense?

      • Michael Nance

        Just once. He wasn’t challenged that day.

  • kalinecountry

    I think the main reason for keeping Nick in Toledo would be playing every day, but more importantly to get more defensive experience in leftfield.
    It would not take long for the fan base to turn on this youngster with a few botched plays in left, like raburn, delmon did.
    With all that said, I do want to see him with the Tigers August or definitely as a September callup.

    • Matt Snyder

      I think the defense side is big. I’ve seen a lot of reports that he’s still not very good out there and would almost certainly be a minus defensively. Dirks, on the other hand, is quite a good left fielder. It’s not as simple as just looking at the bat, if you’re going to give back a bunch of runs with the glove.

  • Joel Wagler

    But I need him to be called up for my fantasy team…

  • kalinecountry

    This youngster went from 3rd base, to rightfield, and now to leftfield all in the span of what….a little over a year? The adjustments to better pitching as he has moved up the minor league ladder was never really in doubt, the kid will eventually be at full speed defensively and at least average to above average in a year or 2. jmho. Youngsters at his age of 20/21 aren’t as great defensively as they are offensively few and far between….off the top of my head, Kaline, Mays, Trout, a few others… all that I have seen when they started out.