Sep 24, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers third baseman Nick Castellanos (9) hits sacrifice fly to score Victor Martinez (not pictured) in the sixth inning against the Chicago White Sox at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
If you’ve kept track of my articles (I would be more than honored), you know I have a bit of a thing for tracking Nick Castellanos. Castellanos was regarded as the number one prospect in the Detroit Tigers’ system and seen as the untouchable after big time prospects like Jacob Turner, Cameron Maybin, Andrew Miller, Casey Crosby, Ryan Perry and more were either traded or failed to live up to the hype. Yes, the Tigers hit on Justin Verlander and Rick Porcello, but the majority of their prospects have not turned out, even after they have left the Tigers system.
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Some use this as the basis for the genius of Dave Dombrowski of cutting ship and acquiring usable pieces, while others use it as a means of attacking Dombrowski and the Tigers’ minor league system for not producing prospects.
Enough of that, let’s get back to Castellanos. Last year, Castellanos had a .259/.306/.394 split with 11 home runs and 50 RBI. Castellanos’s strike out rate was a little high and his walk rate was a little low, but that is expected as a rookie. One of the best things about Castellanos’s feature which made him successful, was his ability to hit hard line drives. He hit 28.5% of his batted balls as line drives, with only Freddie Freeman with a higher percentage in all of baseball.
What Castellanos had in at the plate, he lacked in the field. Castellanos was the third worst defensive player in baseball in 2014 according to FanGraphs, but that defense should improve. I believe he will be better in 2015 for numerous reasons. He was playing left field in Toledo, his range is one of a left fielder (I think he ends up playing in left before his career is over), and he still was adjusting to the Majors.
With another year under Omar Vizquel and re-adjusting to third base, Castellanos should take steps forward defensively. The Steamer projection agrees that Castellanos will take a step forward, but still be way below average with a rating of -11.8 which would have rated him as only the 13th worst defender of 2014.
Offensively, Castellanos is the wild card for the Tigers in the 2015 season. Steamer has projected Castellanos at a .264/.312/.413 split with 14 home runs and 55 RBI. What is worrisome is Steamer’s game projection of 128 which could point to Castellanos being benched in interleague road play, or possibly point to an injury. I don’t know how Steamer does it, but they seem to be accurate just about every season. I think Castellanos not only meets those numbers, but exceeds them.
If Castellanos has a J.D. Martinez like coming out party in 2015, the Tigers could become favorites, not only to win the AL Central, but the World Series. Castellanos could easily find his way to second in the order this season if he can continue to improve offensively.
I think Castellanos has a big season in 2015 and is the surprise of the season in Detroit. The Tigers need someone to step up like Victor and J.D. did in 2014, and Nick Castellanos could easily be that guy.