06 June 2012
Apparently 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.
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.