Thursday, December 10, 2015

Meet a Prospect: Starlin Castro

Brian Cashman and the New York Yankees continued their second baseman stockpiling this week when they acquired second baseman Starlin Castro from the Chicago Cubs for relief pitcher Adam Warren and infielder Brendan Ryan. The trade allowed the Cubs to finalize a deal with free agent Ben Zobrist and gave the Yankees some stability at the second base position that they have been lacking since Robinson Cano left for Seattle via free agency. I am still on the fence about this trade truth be told but that doesn’t mean we aren’t going to introduce you to Castro anyway. This is Meet a Prospect: The Starlin Castro Edition.

Starlin DeJesus Castro was born on March 24, 1990 in the Dominican Republic. Castro is your stereotypical second baseman or shortstop build standing at 6’0” and 190 lbs. who can hit for average and some power. That build and power landed Castro as the Cubs top prospect in 2009 and earned him a call up to the Major Leagues for the 2010 season, Castro was just 20 years old.  

Castro was called up on May 7, 2010 all the way from Double-A and became the first major league player to play in a game after being born in the 1990’s. Castro wasted no time getting acclimated to the big leagues as he took Reds starter Homer Bailey deep in his first major league at bat for a home run becoming the sixth player in Cubs history to hit a home run in their first at bat. Castro later hit a bases clearing triple in that same game to set the record for the most RBI’s in their MLB debut with six RBI. Castro finished his rookie campaign playing in 125 games and batting .300/.347/.408 with three home runs and 41 RBI. Not a bad start rookie. Castro finished tied for fifth in the Rookie of the Year vote and was named to Baseball American’s All-Rookie Team.

Castro got a full season of work in 2011 and rewarded the Cubs with an All-Star Game appearance. Castro became the youngest Chicago Cub to ever make the All-Star team and also won National League Player of the Week twice in his sophomore campaign. Castro finished the season with over 200 hits, becoming the youngest Cub to ever reach 200 hits in a season, and led the entire National League in hits with 207 hits. Castro finished 2011 with a .307/.341/.432 triple slash with 10 home runs and 66 RBI. Castro was now on the map but his defense once again left much to be desired. Castro led all MLB shortstops that season with 29 errors and a .961 fielding percentage.

Castro followed up his first All-Star campaign with his second trip to the Mid-Summer Classic in 2012. Castro finished the season playing in all 162 games and posting a .283 average with 14 home runs and 78 RBI. Castro’s downward trend began in 2013 though after finishing with his worst stat line of his young career. Castro finished hitting just .245 but he did hit 10 home runs and knock in 44 RBI in 161 games. Castro looked to bounce back in 2014 and did with his third All-Star Game appearance for the Cubs. Castro came all the way back from a down season but unfortunately saw his 2014 season end prematurely after landing on the disabled list for the first time in his career. Castro was injured on September 2nd after sliding into home plate awkwardly against the Milwaukee Brewers. Castro did not return that season and ended the year with a .292 average, 14 home runs and 65 RBI. Castro’s defense also improved a bit as he committed just 15 errors and improved his fielding percentage to .973 on the season.

Castro’s career has been one of many “firsts” and he saw his first competition for his starting job in 2015 with Addison Russell. Many speculated that Castro would be dealt at the July 31st trading deadline, potentially to the Padres or Phillies, but Joe Maddon told Castro he would not be traded and he kept his word. That didn’t mean Castro was Maddon’s favorite player though, especially after benching the struggling Cubs star in August for poor performance. Russell took over at shortstop, Castro was moved to second base and the Cubs hoped that Castro’s .236 batting average and defense would improve because of it. That it did as Castro formed into a good second baseman and hit well over .300 after the benching with a .353 average.

The latest first for Castro was the first time that he was traded as the New York Yankees made the trade for him at the Winter Meetings. Brian Cashman hopes to buy low on Castro and hopes that the second baseman can give the stability the Yankees need at the position. Castro is owed $38 million through the 2019 season giving New York his age 26-29 seasons in the Bronx.

Welcome to the family Starlin, be nice to Robert Refsnyder!

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