.174/.200./391 25pa 1hr -0.3 fWAR (inc.)
2012 in brief: Attempted conversion from outfield to second base and then third base with varying degrees of success/files/includes/,.css all while destroying Triple-A pitching.
2013 status: Much depends on the glove/files/includes/,.css but the bat has earned a shot at the bench.
If 2012 will be remembered as the “summer of hamstring” thanks to the injury taking down Dodgers like Matt Kemp/files/includes/,.css Jerry Hairston/files/includes/,.css Juan Rivera/files/includes/,.css and more/files/includes/,.css there’s one particular hammy pull that had a quietly large impact despite going largely unnoticed: that of Alex Castellanos/files/includes/,.css who missed more than a month after hurting himself in the minors on April 23. At the time/files/includes/,.css Castellanos was destroying the PCL/files/includes/,.css hitting .366/.477/.746 with four homers while working hard to re-learn second base. Unfortunately for Castellanos/files/includes/,.css the timing was awful; after he was hurt/files/includes/,.css Scott Van Slyke/files/includes/,.css Jerry Sands/files/includes/,.css Ivan De Jesus & Elian Herrera all got recalled to the big leagues as reinforcements for the tattered Dodger roster instead of him. It was particularly painful given that Don Mattingly later admitted that Castellanos would have been the first in line had he been healthy.
Castellanos finally received his call-up to the bigs when Kemp made his second trip to the disabled list on May 31/files/includes/,.css and he made his first start the next day in Colorado/files/includes/,.css driving in two runs on two hits (including a triple) while playing left field. Unfortunately for Castellanos/files/includes/,.css his next two starts came against Cliff Lee & Cole Hamels/files/includes/,.css and as playing time became hard to come by with Rivera’s return/files/includes/,.css the rookie received only one more start before being sent back to Triple-A when Juan Uribe was activated on June 11. Other than a lone pinch-hitting appearance in August when the club was short-handed for a day as they waited for Adrian Gonzalez/files/includes/,.css Nick Punto/files/includes/,.css & Josh Beckett to arrive/files/includes/,.css we wouldn’t see Castellanos again until September – and even then he didn’t get a single plate appearance over the entire month until he hit his first major league home run as a pinch-hitter on the final day of the season.
So while Castellanos didn’t get much of a shot in the bigs this year/files/includes/,.css his 2012 was interesting nonetheless. For one thing/files/includes/,.css the bat can definitely play/files/includes/,.css with an excellent .327/.416/.591 line and 17 homers for the Isotopes. I know/files/includes/,.css I know: inflated Albuquerque stats. But what makes him unique is that he’s the rare player who actually performed better away from New Mexico (.346/.447/.659) than he did at home (.307/.382/.515). Then there was this: after most of a season spent learning to play second base/files/includes/,.css Castellanos suddenly started at third base on July 22/files/includes/,.css with no notice of a move that we were aware of. He remained at third for the rest of the year with the Isotopes/files/includes/,.css though he played only in left and right fields with the Dodgers.
And that’s really what makes Castellanos’ future so difficult to determine. There’s little question that his bat has earned him a big league opportunity/files/includes/,.css but as what? It’s hard to think that he’s ready to handle the bigs as an infielder right now/files/includes/,.css and there’s little room on the Dodger roster for that anyway. If he’s to continue to learning to play the infield/files/includes/,.css then he needs to be back in Triple-A playing it every day. If he’s back to being a corner outfielder/files/includes/,.css then he’s ready for the Dodgers/files/includes/,.css but the bat then loses quite a bit of its value. Then again/files/includes/,.css we all know the Dodgers need are in need of a righty-hitting bat who can play both outfield corners/files/includes/,.css and as an in-house option he might be the best choice.
The best-case scenario/files/includes/,.css personally/files/includes/,.css is that Castellanos is still viewed as a potential infielder/files/includes/,.css because it’s hard to say you can count on Mark Ellis or Luis Cruz with the utmost certainty. So if he goes back to Triple-A to start the season and works on his defense/files/includes/,.css that’s fine by me. If he’s now an outfielder and he’s an option to spot in the corners with the big team/files/includes/,.css that’s fine too/files/includes/,.css though I have some hesitation about pegging him as a platoon player since he’s never had much of a split in the minors. Just as long as he’s not playing outfield in Albuquerque/files/includes/,.css because that seems like a waste of his skills.
Next up! The highs and lows of being Matt Kemp!