The Detroit Tigers made one trade before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, sending Leonys Martin to Cleveland for shortstop prospect Willi Castro.
Despite a handful of last-minute rumors, the Detroit Tigers only made one trade yesterday. They sent speedy center fielder Leonys Martin and 25-year-old minor league pitcher Kyle Dowdy to Cleveland in exchange for Willi Castro.
Castro, 21, exploded onto the prospect scene after an outstanding 2017 season where he slashed .290/.337/.424 with 11 home runs and 19 stolen bases at High-A. He has followed that up with a solid season at Double-A. The switch-hitter finished his career in Cleveland with a .245/.303/.350 slash line with five home runs and 19 stolen bases in 97 games.
While his numbers are down this season, it’s important to note he is just a 21-year-old playing at Double-A. Plus, he has taken some positive strides in a few areas that were previously weaknesses. For starters, his walk rate has climbed steadily each season, even while he is climbing to more advanced levels. After three straight seasons with a sub-4% walk-rate, he posted a 5.5% rate last season and is up to 6.8% this year. While he will never boast elite walk numbers, his high contact approach and solid speed should allow him to reach base consistently in the major leagues.
Power is the biggest question mark with Castro. He finally tapped into some game power last season, but his slight frame (six-foot-one, 165 pounds) does not lend itself to a 20 home run hitter. However, at 21 it’s entirely possible he will grow into his frame. If he does, an 18-20 home run hitter could be in the cards.
Defense is another huge aspect that will determine Castro’s future in the Motor City. Castro has stuck at shortstop up to this point, thanks to well-regarded hands, range and arm strength. However, he has shown inconsistency defensively, which makes his long-term profile at short a bit murkier. His 2018 season has been his best defensively, which is a great sign.
If Castro proves he can stick at shortstop defensively and fills out his frame, he could be an above-average big league regular. He’ll likely never be more than an average fielding shortstop, but he has the tools to hit 15-20 home runs with double-digit steals. He reminds me a little bit of Tim Anderson of the White Sox or Marcus Semien of the A’s, both toolsy shortstops who have trouble with plate discipline. Those are probably best case scenarios for Castro, but that would be a great return for Martin.
MLB Pipeline slotted Castro in as the No. 10 prospect in Detroit’s system, in between Kyle Funkhouser and Jake Rogers. Our midseason top 30 is a little different from MLB Pipeline, but I would feel comfortable slotting Castro in at No. 9 on our list. Between Sergio Alcantara, Isaac Paredes and Kody Clemens, not to mention Wenceel Perez and Jose King, the Tigers should be able to conjure up a playable middle infield in a few years.
The Detroit Tigers, much like they did last year, traded away a veteran in exchange for future help in the infield. While this trade may not work out quite as well as the Jeimer Candelario and Isaac Paredes trade, it still looks like a steal for the Tigers. After all, they signed Martin for $1.75 million back in December and managed to flip him for a top-10 prospect at a position of need.