Sunday, April 12, 2015

Random Prospect Sunday - Daniel Castro

The Lynchburg Hillcats didn't have a lot of talent last season, especially in the second half. During the first few months, though, they had a sparkling double play duo. At second base, there was uber-prospect Jose Peraza, a player with the range to play shortstop but blocked by the presence of Andrelton Simmons. But the guy manning shortstop was pretty good, too. Mexican-born Daniel Castro, who would lead all High Class A shortstops in Assists/Game, benefited from the move of Peraza to the other side of second base. At the end of the season, Peraza was named the best defensive second baseman in the Carolina League and Castro was the top defensive shortstop according to the managers of the league.

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Born November 14, 1992 in Guaymas, Mexico, Castro was a nice find by the scouting department in 2009. He might even make you think of a former lanky infielder out of Mexico the Braves once found - Vinny Castilla. Castro spent two years in the Dominican Summer League and forgot to hit (.191/.292/.236). Atlanta let Castro return to his home land and loaned him to Saltillo of the Mexican League for a year-and-a-half. Castro was playing against guys who were 10 years older than him in 2012, but the 19 year-old more than held his own, hitting .291 with 3 HR. He didn't walk. At all. Well, he did walk three times in 126 plate appearances, but that's the kind of discrepancy that makes Simba look like a patient hitter. Castro returned the next year and his numbers even improved to a triple slash of .312/.339/.472.

The Braves brought back Castro for the final month of 2013 and he hit .284 over 26 games with 7 walks and 6 K's with the Hillcats. It was an impressive comeback considering Castro's bat was completely not there when he first played in the organization in the DSL.

2014 was an opportunity for Castro. When the Braves moved Peraza to second base, it opened up time for Castro to not only stay at shortstop, but thrive there. He struggled some during the first month, but lit up the Carolina League for a .327 average during May. He continued to produce in June, including getting his first homer. At the end of June, Castro was given the news that he was going to rejoin Peraza, who had been promoted to Mississippi a couple of weeks before. Castro reached base a little bit less in Mississippi, but did find some power with a quartet of homers. Overall, he slashed .286/.312/.398 with 5 HR, 9 steals, and 15 walks to 38 strikeouts. He ended the year with a number of accolades, some that I've already mentioned. He also played for Peoria in the Arizona Fall League and was the only Brave to be named to the AFL's Fall Stars Game.

Castro would get an invite to spring training this season and had a few hits before getting reassigned and beginning the year back with Mississippi.

So, what kind of player is Castro? Well, he didn't make my Top 30, but I have seen him toward the end of other lists. I did include Castro in my epilogue article where I expanded my list to one extra player at each position. I mentioned that his glove could get him a look. That might be a little drinking the kool-aid based on the numbers and accolades because scouts seem to believe that Castro lacks the range to ever be more than average at the position. On the other hand, he does have a powerful arm and unlike many young shortstops, he is not plagued by errors. Will he ever hit enough? I've seen a few people bring up the name Martin Prado as a high-end projection for Castro. With his arm, he could be able to shift around a bit, but hard to see him matching Prado's offensive capabilities. Prado was a near .300 hitter in the minors and then added more pop when he got to the majors. Castro doesn't seem like that kind of player, but he could surprise some people.

Overall, Castro is a borderline prospect at this point in a system full of middle infield options. He could very well surprise some people and it's easy to like him, but he's going to have a tough time getting noticed when there is Simba, Jace Peterson, Peraza, and oh, Ozhaino Albies a couple rungs lower on the ladder.

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