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May 7, 2010

Future Shock Blog

What To Expect From Starlin Castro

by Kevin Goldstein

 

Back when the Cubs were struggling in April, I made a snarky comment on Twitter expecting some kind of over-reaction from the front office.  To be honest, I expected the Cubs to call up the red-hot Starlin Castro then, but instead, they decided to create baseball's first $18 million mop-up reliever.  A mid-week sweep by the lowly Pirates brought another need for a move, and today, the Cubs finally did call up Castro, who by going 10-for-17 in his last four games had raised his triple-slash line at Double-A Tennessee to a more-than-impressive .376/.421/.569.  The Dominican shortstop just turned 20 in March, but after a monster spring and this much offense so far in the Southern League, I think we can have some confidence that he's going to hit immediately.  Certainly not .376, but he should hold his own, as in yesterday's Scouting Notebook, a scout believed he could be a future 70 hitter, which is nearly batting title territory.  Beyond the ability to hammer line drives all over the field, Castro has a good, not great approach, but he's not overly aggressive like Corey Patterson was, and it shouldn't be a problem in the big leagues. 

The one thing to keep in mind however is the massive expectations Castro's mere existence have created for many Cubs fans.  He is not a typical 20-year-old Dominican shortstop.  He's not some sort of massive tools monster.  He's a fantastic hitter, but he's speed is average, and he power is still a long way from being of the in-game variety.  In 995 professional at-bats, he has nine career home runs, including just one this year, so while many project double-digit, if not more power down the road, don't expect it now.  In fact, by the time it does come, he's thickening body may have gotten to the point where he's no longer a shortstop.  He's not a do-it-all player as much as he is a solid defender and very good hitter.  One front-office official might have put it best when he said, "he's more Yunel Escobar than Jose Reyes."

That's not to say Castro can't help, and help immediately.  He makes the Cubs better right now.  While the sliding of Ryan Theriot to second base, the team gets better overall offensively, while improving defensively at two positions.  Even with just average wheels, he brings speed (how many even average runners do the Cubs have?) and energy to a lineup that is in desperate need of both, and I see little reason to believe he can't hit somewhere between his 70th and 80th percentile PECOTA forecasts with a line of .275/.335/.410.

Kevin Goldstein is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Kevin's other articles. You can contact Kevin by clicking here

11 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

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Alex Schwartz

Thoughts on Hardy vs. Castro this year? Slash stats seem similar.

May 07, 2010 13:09 PM
rating: 0
 
Connor Tapp

"many project double-digit, if not more power down the road"

That's the sound of a Cubs fan assuming you he's going to hit for triple-digit power.

May 07, 2010 13:48 PM
rating: 0
 
TheRealNeal

Double digits power = 10 HR's. 11 HR's is more.

May 07, 2010 14:02 PM
rating: 0
 
perhaps

Where would you get triple-digit power from?

May 07, 2010 14:16 PM
rating: 0
 
Jay Taylor

Obviously it's not what Kevin meant, but double digits would include 10-99 homers. I think Connor was just joking around.

May 07, 2010 15:13 PM
rating: 0
 
PWHjort

"One front-office official might have put it best when he said, "he's more Yunel Escobar than Jose Reyes.""

You say that like it's a bad thing.

Career / lines:

Jose Reyes -- .285/.335/.431
Yunel Escobar -- .297/.370/.417

The front office exec can have Reyes and his 70 speed, I'll take the guy that is better at hitting baseballs.

May 07, 2010 15:40 PM
rating: 0
 
Benjamin Harris

I don't think he meant it as a bad thing at all, just that he's more likely to steal 5 bases than 50. Speed is not his game (as it is Reyes's), hitting well is (like Escobar). Or, as Kevin put it, "He's not a do-it-all player as much as he is a solid defender and very good hitter."

May 08, 2010 05:56 AM
rating: 0
 
MattBey

Reyes spent three years in the majors when he was younger than Escobar. If you adjust for that and ignore both players terrible starts Reyes hit .291/.355/.456/.811 23-26 and Escobar hit .301/.375/.426/.801 fom 24-26. Escobar basically had one more single every other week or so.

May 08, 2010 12:35 PM
rating: 0
 
PWHjort

Even if you could ignore Reyes's first few years (and I do agree that he's improved in the past few years, much better plate discipline), a 20 point difference in on base average is not insignificant.

May 11, 2010 05:46 AM
rating: 0
 
MattBey

i take it setting the MLB record for RBI in your debut wasn't something i was supposed to expect.

;)

May 07, 2010 18:08 PM
rating: 1
 
BurrRutledge

and he matched his minor league HR total... and the game's not over yet.

May 07, 2010 18:41 PM
rating: 0
 
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