The Detroit Tigers may opt for shortstop prospect Willi Castro to stay on the taxi squad in order to get more consistent repetitions for 2020
Minor league baseball players have taken quite the beating in 2020. Roster cuts, pay cuts, a canceled season, deferred bonuses, and a ‘play at your own risk’ memorandum have all been instituted at some point this season. 60-man rosters to begin the 2020 season will be helpful not only to get the Detroit Tigers’ highly-regarded prospects like Willi Castro for some much-needed repetitions to further their development but also to make them accessible in the event there is a necessity for their services.
Willi Castro hit well in Toledo as a 22-year-old and was an International League all-star representative for the Mud Hens before earning a call to the show in September; where he would appear in 30 games and slash .230/.284/.340 with inconsistent defense. Many believe in his switch-hitting bat, but there are concerns with his defense as evidenced by his 22 errors at the position for Toledo in 2019.
Willi Castro had been optioned to Toledo in Spring Training prior to the pandemic and subsequent delay of the season, but there have been a couple of changes which might allow him to squeak his way on to the club; with the obvious being that the active roster has expanded to 30 players to open the season. He does have the experience, but a shaky performance in limited time coupled with the fact he is still just 23 years old, it might make sense to keep Castro in Toledo for regular playing time.
Beyond the logistics of where Castro is in his respective development, though, even the numbers game does not appear to be in Castro’s favor. Detroit did not feel it necessary to keep Castro on the roster with a 26-man regular-season squad heading into the season. With rosters expanding to 30, it is fair to assume one of those spots will be to add a third catcher. One of those spots likewise is going to go to Michael Fulmer, who is presumed to be at full health now. That leaves two spots to whom I am convicted to believe will go to relief arms in a short 60-game sprint, although it is conceivable to include a position player for one of the final spots.
Even if the Detroit Tigers did go position player with spot 30, though, Castro still wouldn’t be the best match. Considering Harold Castro would spell Jonathan Schoop on his off days, that would leave Castro to only back up Niko Goodrum, whom the Tigers granted the everyday shortstop duties to during the off-season. If Goodrum plays even 80% of the games at shortstop, that leaves Castro only 10-15 games to get his time in.
The third base battle is believed to be a contest between Dawel Lugo and Jeimer Candelario; but if a dark horse such as Harold Castro proves himself worthy of some time at the position, justifying Willi Castro’s roster spot might make more sense–since then Ron Gardenhire would be able to play him at shortstop as well as second base if Harold Castro were to play third or one of the outfield spots. Outside of that, though, look for Willi Castro to remain on the taxi squad to prevent him from getting stale in a season which figures to be about anything but normal.