By Rodger Wood
Older Tigers fans are praying young Tigers BA #2 minor league prospect, Nick Castellanos will develop into a HOF right fielder just like Al Kaline did back in the 1950s.
Tigers brass invited comparisons of the 20-year old to the HOFer, who patrolled right field at old Briggs Stadium for over 20 seasons, when figuring 29-year old Miquel Cabrera would be holding down their hot corner for awhile, they moved young Castellanos from 3B to right field at AA-Erie Sea Wolves this past July.
Erie manager Chris Cron thinks the youngster has all of the tools to be a good right fielder at the major league level.
“He has a strong arm, good speed, moves, and catches the ball well, but he’s playing in only his 46th game in the outfield, and needs to learn the position through a thousand repetitions and lots more hard work.”
Castellanos says he’ll do his best to help his team at the new position. “I never played right field before, I played only shortstop and third base in high school, and minor league ball so I have to learn the hard angles I have to read to catch fly balls and especially line drives off a left handed batter. Right field is a tough position to to play but I’ll do it.”
Drafted in the First Supplemental round of the 2010 MLB draft, 44th overall, after he hit 542 BA his senior year at Archbishop McCarthy HS (Southwest Ranches, FL), the young right handed hitter proved he could hit beyond his years at Rookie GCL, Low A – West Michigan, Lakeland. When he stops chasing bad pitches and develops better plate discipline, he has the swing and hitting instincts to develop into a 300 BA and 30 HR major leaguer.
He’s advanced fast through the Tigers minor league organization, and while one of the youngest players in AA, he’s proved he can hit the more savvy Eastern League pitchers at AA Erie with a 276 BA in 74 games played, 15 2B, 1 3B, and 7 HR in 301 at bats. As he advanced from rookie to AA – ball, his power statistics have progressively increased against the tougher competition and has done better as the pitchers demonstrated better command of their pitches.
When asked about comparison with the Tiger great, Castellanos modestly reflected, “Al Kaline was a great rightfielder, and I don’t think I can ever fill his shoes, but if given a chance, I’ll do my best to give the Tigers another good right fielder. “
Kaline was soft speaking and thankful off the field too. Maybe Nick Castellanos, thankful for the opportunity to play right field, will also be the answer to Tigers fans’ prayers when he runs out on the field.