NickCastellanosThirdApparently Double-A is no big deal for Nick Castellanos. The Tigers announced on Tuesday that they were moving up their top position player prospect from Advanced-A Lakeland (where he hit .405/.461/.553 in 55 games) to AA Erie.

Castellanos made his first appearance with the Erie SeaWolves last night, and was immediately inserted into the starting lineup as the cleanup hitter. But Nick didn’t allow the bigger stage to bother him. He singled in his first plate appearance of the game, hit a sacrifice fly that drove in a run, and smacked a double (number 18 on the year).

One game is obviously a tiny sample, and we can’t come near to making any conclusions about how he’ll adjust to AA pitching, but instant success is always encouraging. At just 20 years of age, Castellanos is crazy-young for AA (he was young for A+ too), so we shouldn’t be disappointed if he doesn’t continue to put up a 1.000+ OPS against the near-major league caliber pitchers he’ll see.


The promotion to AA at this point in the year is probably more aggressive than the organization ever imagined back in the spring, and he earned it with his bat, but the Tigers probably aren’t looking to fast-track him to the big leagues. All reports say that he’s making good progress as a third baseman defensively (and doubts that he would have the ability to stick there in the big leagues are being squashed), but those same accounts mention that he still has work to do with the glove before being ready for the biggest stage. So even if his bat appeared to be ready for the majors by the end of this season, the organization would still probably look to wait a year for the final call-up (a September 2013 or April 2014 debut still seems the most likely).

There’s been a lot of internet chatter suggesting the Tigers move him to the outfield or second base in the hope that he could reach the majors (and help the team) a bit sooner, but that talk is ridiculously shortsighted. Third base is a more difficult defensive position (perhaps similar in difficulty to second base, but requiring different skill sets), so the club will get the most long-term value out of him at the hot corner (an .800 OPS , for instance, is a plus at third base, but a bit closer to average from a corner outfielder). And if the team eventually decides that outfield is where he’ll play then it shouldn’t be a problem for him to quickly learn the position (it is where teams try to hide some of their worst defenders, after all). There’s always time for him to learn the outfield later, if it comes to that, but that position change feels very much like a one-way street with no going back, so why rush it?

Matt Snyder is the editor of The Tigers Den. He can be reached on Twitter @snyder_matthew.