In the past, we would run a feature called “The Book on…”, giving a scouting report of a player as they arrived for the first time in the majors.
We’re bringing that back with a twist. Instead of looking at a prospect when he first arrives in the majors, we’re going to be taking a look at the player when he loses prospect status. For reference, that’s after 130 at-bats for hitters, or 50 innings pitched/30 relief appearances for pitchers.
We’re also using the Prospect Roundtable format for this, giving you multiple viewpoints.
At this stage in a prospect’s career, we’ve seen a bit of what they can do, though they still may have more projectability. The best part is that you guys have also seen these players regularly by this point, so you can weigh in with your opinions.
Going forward, you can expect this feature to run shortly after a player loses prospect status. For that reason, this will also be the first premium feature that isn’t tied exclusively to the Tuesday and Friday article drops.
We’re starting this feature with a look at Rodolfo Castro, who lost his prospect eligibility this year. Stay tuned for the next installment on Diego Castillo.
Here is The Book on Rodolfo Castro…
Castro hasn’t hit much during his two looks in the majors, putting up very similar stats in 2021 and 2022. It’s important to remember that he just turned 23 years old and he has more big league games than Triple-A games. I think what we have seen from him in the majors is what you can expect from the young player who needed that Triple-A time to continue to develop. Castro shows an interesting amount of plate patience in winter ball and Indianapolis this year, combining for 42 walks in 54 games, and it led to solid results in both spots. That’s something that had not shown up prior in his career, and it shows that he’s still developing as a player. I ranked him 15th in the system coming into the year based mostly on his power potential and ability to play multiple infield spots, due to some nice athleticism. His lack of walks, with a slightly high strikeout rate, is the main thing that kept him from being a top ten prospect in the system. He’s also an average runner and average defensively, so the power is going to be his carrying tool. If he can carry that winter/Triple-A plate patience into the majors, combined with the 15-20 home run power, then he’s going to reach his peak. If not you have a versatile utility infielder who will run into some pitches, but it will come with a low OBP.
Rodolfo Castro probably isn’t a big mystery to Pirate fans at this point. What we’ve seen from him in the majors serves as a good summary of him as a ballplayer, although hopefully he’s capable of better overall. His big strengths are the fact that he’s a switch-hitting infielder with good power from both sides, he runs well, and he has a good arm and athleticism. His weaknesses all relate to the same thing: weak discipline. He’s apt to chase bad pitches, he tends to be error-prone and, as we’ve seen, he’s prone to mistakes on the bases.
On the defensive side, his brief trial so far this year hasn’t been entirely fair. Originally a shortstop, he moved mostly to second base in 2018. Since then, he’s started 56 minor league games at short, 188 at second and 74 at third. Second is probably the best position for him, and he hasn’t been nearly as error-prone there. With the Pirates this year, though, he’s been playing regularly at short since he came up; he’s now played 16 innings more at the position for them than anybody else this year. It’s a position he should be playing on an occasional basis as a utility player. Even so, Statcast has him at -1 OAA, so he’s not unplayable at short.
On the hitting side, his big weakness has always been lack of patience. He seemed to be addressing that at Indianapolis this year; his walk rate was up two and a half times from 2021 in Double-A, with the strikeouts staying about the same. That seemed to come at the cost of some power, as he had only two longballs in 29 games with Indy. He hasn’t been overwhelmed in the majors, as his swinging strike percentage of 13.7%, while not good, isn’t dramatically above average, which is around 11%. Castro just turned 23, so it’s certainly possible that he could make adjustments. His ceiling is probably utility player with good power and marginal on-base skills.
Castro’s game will always revolve around his offense. He’s got great raw power for a middle infielder; it’s just going to come down to how consistent he can make contact at the major league level. I don’t think the Pirates did him any favors on the defensive side of things by playing him at shortstop, a position he just isn’t made to play. So, he isn’t as bad defensively as maybe this latest sting may have suggested, he was just playing out of position. This Castro is probably a lot like the one we are going to see going forward — a high energy, aggressive player. The hope will be as he gets older and matures, he becomes smarter on when to be aggressive and when to hold back.
Castro can play second, short, and third, with impressive raw power from the middle infield. He’s shown that a bit in the majors, with a .153 ISO, though that was more a product of his 2021 results. He’s had some contact issues, with a .197 average and a 26.9% strikeout rate in his 171 plate appearances. Castro gives the Pirates depth off their bench for his ability to move around the field, and backup shortstop. He’s been replacement level so far, though he’s still young, and could probably use more Triple-A time. At best, I could see his bat improving to be a steady utility infielder. His biggest value to the Pirates in the long-term might not even be on the field; it might be the impact of his friendship with Oneil Cruz. The two played middle infield in Altoona last year, and Castro was credited by multiple people in the organization for the impact he had on the top prospect. The two are currently together in Indianapolis again. Cruz will eventually be in the majors, and while Castro has been replacement-level in the big leagues, he might have some intangible value in the future being in Pittsburgh with Cruz.