Can Alex Castellanos play second base? That is the question that the Dodgers are going to have to figure out soon. Castellanos has been tearing it up this spring. He has already slugged two home runs, and currently leads the Dodgers in spring home runs. This youngster has a very high ceiling, and the Dodgers are looking to switch him over from the outfield to second base. However is this, such a good idea?
There is always a learning curve when players switch positions. Alex Castellanos was drafted in the 10th round of the 2008 amateur draft by the Cardinals out of Belmont Abbey College. Castellanos was originally an infielder while in the rookie leagues, and switched to the outfield in 2010 when he was playing with the Palm Beach Cardinals. He began the 2011 season with the double-A Springfield Cardinals. In 93 games with Springfield he batted .319 with 19 home runs, and 62 RBI, and was selected as a Texas League all-star.
On July 31, 2011, Castellanos was traded to the Dodgers for Rafael Furcal. Castellanos finished the 2011 season with the Chattanooga Lookouts. While at Chattanooga, he played in 32 games, batted .322, and hit 4 home runs.
Castellanos played in the Arizona Fall league, but only played the outfield. He was playing very well before he got hurt. He played in 8 games last fall, batted .379, and hit 3 home runs. Castellanos played mostly second and third base during the early part of his career. He was a decent defensive player while playing the infield. He ranked about average at second base, and below average at third base. He made 28 errors at third base , and had a very poor range factor of 2.36, in 76 career minor league games at third base. So third base is out of the question. Mattingly has already said that Castellanos will not be playing third base. As for second base, his minor league fielding statistics aren’t as bad as you would think they are. He has a zero total runs above average. What caught my eye though was his above average range factor at the keystone. Castellanos has a range factor of 4.35, and only 8 errors in 55 games at second base.
What that means is he can cover a lot of ground. Castellanos is 25 years old, 5’11, 180 pounds out of Miami, Florida. Castellanos bats and throws right handed, and was added to the 40 man roster this fall, in order to protect him from the rule V draft.
Castellanos has already played a couple of games this spring at second base, and done just fine. If there is one thing offensively Castellanos needs to work on is his plate discipline. He averages less than 35 walks per year, and has never had more than 39 free passes in any of his minor league seasons. He also needs to cut down on his strikeouts naturally, but that will come with time.
Alex Castellanos is an intriguing prospect. In his four minor league seasons he has a .286 average, a .352 OBP, and has hit 49 home runs. While with Springfield in 2011, he posted a .958 OPS, before he was traded to the Dodgers. Castellanos is also light on his feet. He will steal a few bases, if not kept an eye on. Castellanos has stolen as many as 21 bases before, and stole 19 in 2010 for Palm Beach, and 14 last year total.
The Dodgers are pretty full on outfielders, which is a primary reason why Castellanos is being considered for second base. With Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, Juan Rivera, and Jerry Sands, the Dodgers just don’t have room in the outfield. Another reason for the position change, is because the Dodgers are in desperate need of any kind of resemblance of offense at the position. We haven’t had an offensive second baseman since the days of Jeff Kent. However Orlando Hudson was pretty good in his lone season with the club. Since then, we have had nothing but a bunch of designated gloves. The keystone has been completely bare of any offense of any kind. A veritable wasteland . A cornucopia of outs, if you will, save for some nice on-base skills from Jamey Carroll. Mark Ellis was signed from the free agency pool, to play second base, but he may not be the answer the Dodgers are looking for.
Castellanos should begin the season at Albuquerque. We will keep an eye on Castellanos, and how he plays at second base. The way he is raking it, he might not be down in triple-A for very long. As we watch Alex Castellanos develop, the Dodgers are asking themselves the same question we all are. Can Alex Castellanos play second base? We’ll find out soon enough.