Every season, there are players who open some eyes and the Lehigh Valley IronPigs have two of them on their roster this season. Leandro Castro and Cesar Hernandez have always been nice prospects, but didn't put up numbers that would lead anybody to believe they were destined to become potential everyday major league players. In the early part of 2013, both players are turning those opinions around with their play on the field at Lehigh Valley.
Castro's .278 average is right around his career minor league average, but many of the things that are impressive about him this season are more of the intangible variety. In back-to-back games, Castro, 23, collected a walk-off hit to take the IronPigs to victory. He's worked his way into being an everyday player for Lehigh Valley and has impressed Phillies farm director Joe Jordan.
"He's always put up numbers, but I think the thing that he's started to do over the last year or year-and-a-half is that he's playing much more under control. He'll still give some at-bats away, but the more you watch him, you understand that he's an intelligent hitter; he doesn't always act like it, but if he gives an at-bat away, he'll learn something from it and he'll come back," explained Jordan. "His whole game is developing, he's got talent and he's going to help us at the big league level at some time."
|Leandro Castro is getting his first chanct to play at the Triple-A level and is making the most of it with a big start to the season.|
Besides helping at the plate, Castro's defense has flawless, including a diving catch that saved the 'Pigs recently against Louisville.
"He's just playing so well for us," said IronPigs manager Dave Brundage. "Cesar is always open to extra work and when you talk to him, he really takes what you have to say to heart and he works hard to make himself better."
If Castro is opening eyes, Cesar Hernandez is showing himself off in 3D. The 22-year old second baseman is hitting .345 with two home runs and 11 RBI. Not a bad start for a guy who has a career-high of four home runs in a season. Like Castro, Hernandez has always shown himself to be a good prospect, but he's starting to peak at the right time, with Chase Utley's contract due to expire at the end of the season. Defensively, Hernandez isn't stellar and has made three errors this season, but he is continuing to work hard on improving himself defensively.
"Cesar is getting better in every phase of this game; defensively, on the bases and obviously, at the plate," believes Jordan. "We're all paying attention to his batting average, but the power is starting to show a little bit and he's driving the ball a little more and in all phases of his game, he's heading in the right direction."