May 31, 2012
The Situation: With Matt Kemp likely returning to the disabled list, the Los Angeles Dodgers decided to see if they could jump start their middle infield production by bringing up Castellanos from Triple-A Albuquerque. Acquired from the St. Louis Cardinals at last year's trade deadline for shortstop Rafael Furcal, Castellanos will be making his major league debut.
Background: A 10th-round pick by the Cardinals in 2008, and the first player ever drafted out of Division II Belmont Abbey College in North Carolina to reach the big leagues. Initially seen as little more than an organizational bat who offered positional flexibility by playing multiple infield and outfield positions, Castellanos had a breakout season in 2011, when he hit .319/.379/.562 for Double-A Springfield before the trade, and .322/.406/.603 for Double-A Chattanooga following the deal. Primarily an outfielder over the past two seasons, the Dodgers tried to increase his value by returning him to his original position of second base, and his significantly improved defense there played as large a role in his promotion, as did his batting line of .379/.476/.759 in 22 games.
What He Can Do: Castellanos has the potential to be an interesting six-week pick-up for fantasy purposes. On a tools level, he has average power and is a plus runner, and while a high strikeout rate will keep him while likely keep him in the .260-.270 range as a hitter, peak seasons of 15-20 home runs and an equal number of stolen bases are not out of the question. That combination makes him a valuable commodity if he can stay at second base, and early signs were encouraging.
Immediate Big League Future: Castellanos should get significant time at second base for at least the next 6-8 weeks or more, until Mark Ellis returns from a gruesome leg injury. He'll likely get the majority of the time there as long as Kemp is out, with Elian Herrera moving to center field. Don't be surprised to see Castellanos struggle to hit for average, but he has the secondary skills to make up for it.
Long-Term: This is a golden opportunity for Castellanos to prove that he can be the everyday second baseman beginning in 2013, even with Ellis signed through that season. His positional flexibility gives additional value to both manager Don Mattingly and fantasy owners.
A version of this story originally appeared on ESPN Insider .