April 28, 2012
Mike Trout and Welington Castillo
The situation: The slumping Angels could simply wait no longer. Despite all of the roster difficulties created by the Albert Pujols signing, the team finally solved them by flat-out releasing what's left of Bobby Abreu and giving Trout the call after the 20-year-old hit a whopping .403/.467/.623 in 20 games for Triple-A Salt Lake.
Background: Trout was the 25th overall pick in the 2009 draft, and all he has done since is make scouts wonder how he lasted that long. After creating some buzz by hitting .352 in the complex league after signing, Trout's prospect breaking occurred in 2010 when he hit .341/.428/.490 for Low-A Cedar Rapids with six home runs and 45 stolen bases in just 81 games. He's never stopped hitting since, other than a rough big league stretch last year while getting inconsistent playing time. In 286 career minor league games, he's a career .342/.425/.516 hitter with 23 home runs and 108 stolen bases.
What he can do: Trout simply makes this team better when he is inserted in the lineup on Saturday. There's really nothing he can't do, as he has the hit tool to flirt with .300, the speed for 40 stolen bases per year, and while he has just one home run this season, he has the long-term potential to hit 20-plus bombs per season. All of this while also playing a fantastic center field, with his average arm being the only tool that doesn't grade out as plus. He also plays the game right, as he knows how to work the count, and has great instincts both on the base paths and on defense. One of the things that stands out so much for Trout is the fire in his game. He's more than talented enough for a healthy-sized cruise control button, but he doesn't only play hard, he clearly is having a lot of fun out there as well, with a joy for the game that has rubbed off on his teammates in the minors.
Immediate big league future: Trout's talent and aptitude should provide some immediate dividends to a team in desperate need for a jump start. He should hit for average and steal bases from day one, but the power is not going to play immediately, not that he'll be a zero in the home run department.
Long term: Trout is good now and only going to get better. While he won't stay a top-of-the-line runner, he'll always be fast, and his power is going to grow in the coming years. He has an excellent chance to become the player everyone thought Grady Sizemore was going to be.
The situation: While he's become a darling with Cubs fans while hitting .500 in a backup role, catcher Steve Clevenger hit the disabled list with a strain in his side, leading the way for Castillo's return to the big leagues after playing four games in 2011 and seven in 2010.
Background: Signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2004, injuries and conditioning have slowed the 25-year-old's development, but he took a big step forward in 2010 when he slugged .498 at Triple-A Iowa, as his raw power began to play in games. In 148 career games at the Triple-A level, he's hit .274 with 30 home runs and 103 RBIs, including a .320-2-8 mark in 16 games this year. He's always had one of the best arms in the Cubs' system, and has gunned down 50 percent of opposing base stealers this season.
What he can do: Castillo has above-average power, and well above average for his position. His much-improved plate discipline has played a key role in his offensive breakthroughs, but he's still a pure power hitter who is prone to strikeouts. Castillo's receiving skills are not as good as his arm, and he's slow, even for a catcher.
Immediate big league future: The question is how much Castillo is going to play. Geovany Soto has been an offensive zero this year, and with Castillo generally seen as the Cubs' catcher of the future, now is a perfect time to get a good look at him against big league pitching. The power should play immediately, but his other skills should take some time to actualize.
Long term: Castillo is an excellent long-term fantasy play who is generaly undervalued. Catchers with power can be rare commodities, and in a full-time role, Castillo should be good for 15-20 home runs per year.
A version of this story originally appeared on ESPN Insider .