Born August 4, 1986 in Miami, Florida. Attended Belmont Abbey College in North Carolina. Drafted in the 10th round of the 2008 First Year Player Draft. Listed at 5'11 and 180 lbs. Bats and throws right-handed.
As a junior in college, Castellanos batted .390/.452/.683 with 31 doubles, 3 triples and 12 homers. Stole 9 bases in 14 attempts. After signing, Alex went to Johnson City of the rookie Appalachian League where he hit .298/.354/.536 with 14 doubles, 4 triples and 7 home runs. Stole 20 bases in 22 attempts. Played 43 games at third base, 1 game at short stop and 4 games at second. Earned a late season promotion to the New York Penn League and hit .269/.345/.500 in 10 games.
Began 2009 at Quad Cities in the Midwest League where he batted .270/.336/.412 with 22 doubles, 5 triples and 6 homers in 82 contests. Stole 21 bags in 25 tries. Played 7 games at first, 36 games at second, 29 games at third, 1 game in left, 2 games in center and 6 games in right. Received another late season promotion, this time to High A, where he hit .189 in 10 games.
Spent all of 2010 at Palm Peach in the High A Florida State League. Played 129 games, hitting .270/.339/.462 with 35 doubles, 7 triples and 13 home runs. Stole 19 of 28. Played all his games in right field, save one, in which he played left.
Had a breakout season in 2011, beginning with Springfield in the Double A Texas League. Hit .319/.379/.562 with 21 doubles, 4 triples and 19 home runs in 93 games. Was traded to the Dodgers for Rafael Furcal on July 31. Played 32 games for the Chattanooga Lookouts in the Southern League, hitting .322/.406/.603 with 14 doubles, 4 triples and 4 home runs. Stole a total of 14 bases in 16 attempts. Played 103 games in right, 17 games in center and 1 in left. Played 8 games in the Arizona Fall League, batting .379/.471/.828 before suffering an oblique injury that shut him down for the rest of the year.
Many people in and out of the industry see Castellanos as a fringe prospect, likely to end up as a 4th outfielder at the next level. When I see him play, I see a guy who looks like he's turned a corner and is capable of being a starter in the major leagues. Last year's production was helped by factors such as environment and BABIP, but I don't think it was all luck.
I really like his swing. It looks short and quick, unlike how it's described in some scouting reports I've read. He whips the bat through the zone and produces nice power to the alleys. He's not the biggest guy, but he generates nice leverage and has strong wrists and forearms.
His plate discipline was always a problem prior to him switching organizations, though he showed a very good eye after becoming a Dodger. In 93 games with Springfield, he walked 24 times and struck out 94. With Chattanooga, he walked 15 times and struck out 24 in 32 games. He also showed a good eye during his brief stint in the Arizona Fall League. This is far from a guarantee that he's turned a corner, but if he has, he's immediately a legitimate offensive prospect.
His speed on the basepaths plays up due to his instincts. His career stolen base success rate is nearly 80 percent and he's been very successful every year except 2010. That allows him to cover a decent amount of ground in an outfield corner, where his arm is an asset as evidenced by his 13 outfield assists in 2011. The Dodgers are trying him out at second base, where he played 55 games in the minors.
Low. This is my most aggressive ranking of the year. A career .271 hitter coming into last season, it's unlikely that, at age 24/25, he took a major step forward in his development. Specifically, I doubt his plate discipline has improved as drastically in reality as it has on paper.
So why did I rank him so highly? Simple: I like what he showed me. I saw a good swing, a good athlete and versatility. Sometimes I like a player just because I like him. I've been wrong before, but on rare occasions, I've been right.
I'm willing to give Alex a chance to succeed once the .383 BABIP and 19.5% HR/OFB normalize. If he makes a successful conversion to second base, his value rises. And if he continues to hit, it'll skyrocket.
Castellanos hasn't been in the system long enough to warrant an inside track on the starting LF job, though he should get a look during spring training. If he doesn't make the big club out of camp, he should go to Albuquerque to work on his glove at second. Hopefully he hits enough to supplant Mark Ellis before 2013.
Prospect Countdown: #8 Alex Castellanos
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