45 Prospects in 45 Days: Detroit’s Nick Castellanos
Over the next 45 days the staff here at The Fix will profile and predict the fantasy fates of prospects that could – should, in some cases – be closely monitored on the waiver wire or even in the draft room.
For the projection portion of the article, we will try our best to give you projections from all three major projection systems. Those projection systems are: ZiPS, Steamer, and Oliver. Oliver varies from the other two by projecting what a player would accomplish over 600 PA. Obviously, most prospects won’t reach 600 PA, due to various reasons. It can help to pay more attention to the rate stats that are included in order to get a clearer idea of what you’re dealing with in a particular player.
Nick Castellanos was the Detroit Tigers 1st round (sandwich pick – #44 overall) choice in the 2010 MLB draft out of high school in Florida. He signed for $3.45M. The 22 year old right-handed hitter stands 6’ 4” and weighs 201 pounds.
Castellanos started his professional career as a third baseman. However, he transitioned to the outfield due to the presence of Miguel Cabrera at third. With Cabrera moving back across the diamond, Castellanos is back to the infield at third base. Castellanos made his major league debut last year picking up 18 plate appearances in September.
Castellanos was a consensus top 40 prospect prior to last season. This year, he remains squarely in the top 40 across the league.
Keith Law over at ESPN has Castellanos at 32nd overall and atop the Tigers’ system. And Law really likes him as a hitter (all we really care about in fantasy):
He’s very strong for a 21-year-old, with a simple, repeatable swing that starts with a deep load and is heavily rotational, leading to that above-average power that will end up plus, probably 25-30 homers per year, even in Comerica Park.
And it certainly seems that the Tigers aren’t too concerned with his defense (they did keep Miguel Cabrera at the hot corner all of 2013).
Baseball Prospectus puts him back at 37 this year, exactly the same spot as they had him in 2013. He remains the number one prospect in the Tigers’ system. Jason Parks is not quite as high on Castellanos as Law is:
Of all the prospects in the minors, Castellanos might receive the most mixed reviews, as he’s either a top-20 talent with future 6/6 hit/power at the major-league level, or he’s just an average player, a top 50 prospect that has some ability with the bat but not nearly the impact talent some project. I’ve seen it and I like it, but I tend to fall in the middle of the two camps; I think Castellanos is going to hit for a high average but I’m not sold the power shows up in the 25-plus home run range without selling out the contact to achieve it.
Castellanos is also the top Tigers’ prospect according to Baseball America. They rate him as the 25th overall prospect in baseball.
So, we see a middle to high end prospect who will have impact with his bat while not being a huge negative on defense. The questions surround his power and always have. Will the power only be actualized with a regression in batting average or can he put both together to be a monster on the offensive end?
The 2014 season will begin to answer that question. But we’ve got four years of minor league data to peruse to help us with this puzzle.
Minor League Production
Some envision an offensive monster, others a nice little player. What has Castellanos produced down on the farm? Let’s take a look:
The first stat that jumps out isn’t HRs or OBP, but age. Castellanos has been the youngest or nearly the youngest player at almost every level as he’s climbed the ladder. The Tigers have been notorious for pushing their prospects (to somewhat disastrous results for their pitchers), but Castellanos has been able to hold his own.
His time at AA as a 20 year old had the first hint of a struggle, but he regrouped in 2013 to slash .276/.343/.450 – a quite respectable line at AAA for a 21 year old. And he showed good power with an ISO of .174 at AAA.
What should we expect from Castellanos in 2014? Let’s see what three major forecasting systems predict:
Not too bad for a 22 year old in his first full season in the big leagues. Oliver sees power, but at the sake of batting average. ZiPS sees the start of what Keith Law predicts. Steamer sees less power, but puts the batting average above average.
What does 2014 hold for Castellanos? Keith Law opines “Castellanos will be their [Tigers] everyday third baseman and a top five rookie in the league, maybe the best rookie under age 25 this year. “
And he very well may be, but currently he’s projected to hit down in the lineup (eighth as it stands right now) with Jose Iglesias behind him. That spot in the lineup will be a drag on his runs and RBIs, but could help his OBP a bit as I could see pitchers walking Castellanos to get to Iglesias.
If Castellanos shows some power, I could see him moving up the lineup (they aren’t really going to hit Don Kelly fifth, are they?) and if he does, those RBI numbers get a boost.
I like the Steamer projection, but with a bit more power – I see 15 HRs, 65 runs, 65 RBIs and a slash line of .275/.320/.410. If he moves up in the order, we could see those RBIs jump closer to 80.
He probably qualifies at outfield in your league, but check your rules to make sure you know where you can put him on draft day. He’ll quickly gain 3B eligibility (before the end of April in most leagues) and that positional flexibility is probably worth an extra dollar on draft day.