The Hot Seat

Nick Castellanos{exp:list_maker}(Ownership rates: Yahoo 4%, ESPN 0.1%, CBS 22%) {/exp:list_maker}{exp:list_maker}(Positional eligibility: Yahoo/ESPN – 3B, CBS – OF) {/exp:list_maker}The top prospect in Detroit’s system, the 21-year-old Castellanos, has been in the majors for a week but really hasn’t been playing much. That seems set to change, with manager Jim Leyland saying that with Matt Tuiasosopo’s struggles, Castellanos is in line to start against lefties. Now that we’re into the fantasy playoffs, a top-tier prospect getting a handful of starts a week is about as good as you’re going to find on the waiver wire. But what can he do for your team when he does get those starts?

Castellanos has always had an excellent hit tool, with good vision and discipline at the plate, but the power that scouts have been expecting didn’t show up in games until this year. In Triple-A, he clubbed 18 homers in 134 games, posting a .276/.343/.450 slash line, good enough for a .357 wOBA. His isolated power was the highest of his career, at .174.

As expected, given Leyland’s intentions to start him against lefties, Castellanos mashes left-handed pitching. This season in Triple-A, he put up an .831 on-base plus slugging percentage against left-handers. What’s interesting, however, is that he doesn’t exactly struggle against right-handers either, as he posted a .784 OPS against them.

The big difference in his splits is that he had a much higher on-base percentage against lefties (.404, compared to .328 against righties) and much more power against right-handers—16 of his 18 home runs this year in Triple-A came against righties, as well as 31 of his 37 doubles. To further illustrate the point, his slash line against lefties was .303/.402/.424, while he hit right-handers to the tune of .269/.328/.454. The drastic difference between his OBP and slugging percentage depending on whether he’s facing a righty or a lefty jumps off the page.

So what am I getting at here? It’s already been established that Castellanos should see regular playing time going forward against lefties, where he should provide a solid batting average and score plenty of runs in the Tigers’ potent offense. However, I could also see him stealing some starts away from Andy Dirks against right-handers.

Dirks has been better over the past month than he has been all year, posting a .329/.405/.486 line. However, his power is gap-only, as he has hit one home run in each of the last three months. If Leyland wants some more pop in the lineup against certain righties, Castellanos will be the guy. Furthermore, he can spell Miguel Cabrera at third base if the Tigers want to give Cabrera a day off to rest his lingering abdominal injury.

Castellanos was the No. 21 prospect in baseball for both Baseball America and heading into 2013, and that was after he struggled to adjust to Double-A to end 2012 after a stellar half-season in High-A. This kid is absolutely one of the best hitting prospects in the game and is worth a flier if you need help at third base or in the outfield, depending on which site you play on. That said, he should gain outfield eligibility very soon in Yahoo and ESPN leagues, giving him even more value with positional flexibility.

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Detroit Michael
10 years ago

Castellanos last played 3B in June 2012.  If Miguel Cabrera doesn’t play 3B, then Don Kelly or Ramon Santiago play there.