2004 Marlins Infield Preview: Second Base

Marlins second baseman Luis Castillo is part of the backbone of the team. Front office recognized this fact and rewarded him with a long term deal to keep him in Black and Teal. Marlins Insider provides you with an in-depth scouting report and a projection on the 2004 season for Luis Castillo.

Luis Castillo
Vital Stats:
DOB: September 12, 1975
Birth Place:San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic
Height: 5'11 Weight: 175
Bats: Both Throws: Right

2003 Recap:
Luis followed up his breakout 2002 campaign in which he made his first All-Star team, and earned widespread attention with his 35 game hitting streak, with another stand out season in which he earned a second straight All-Star nomination and captured his first Gold Glove award for his outstanding defense. Castillo made no errors in the final 65 games of the season. Following the 2003 season, Luis was eligible for free agency for the first time. Many teams were said to be interested in obtaining Luis, but he preferred to stay with the Marlins and signed a 3 year $16 million deal with an option for a 4th year which would bring the total value of the deal to $21 million.

2003 Statistics:

Year

Team

AVG

AB

R

HR

RBI

2B

3B

SB

BB

SO

2003

Florida

.314

595

99

6

39

19

6

21

65

60



Player Analysis
Batting:
Luis is a player that knows his limitations and understands his role on the team. A former leadoff hitter now occupying the second spot in the lineup, Castillo still carries the same approach to the plate; make good contact and get on base by any means necessary then try and make something happen with his speed.
Luis is a switch hitter but is a natural right hander so he carries a bit more pop from that side. From the left side, Luis is a slap and chop hitter. He cuts down on his swing and usually tries to either slap the ball to the opposite field or chop one down and beat it out with his legs. Castillo is an excellent bunter from either side of the plate and is consistently among the league leaders in infield hits.
From the right side, pitchers can tie up Castillo with hard inside fastballs and he can be a sucker for the high ones out of the zone. From the left side, right-handed pitchers who have a quality slider can have success against Castillo.
Luis used to over-press himself with runners in scoring position, but with experience and confidence that is no longer as much of a problem.

Base Running and Speed:
Castillo has twice led the National League in steals. However, his stolen base totals have been in a consistent decline over from year to year and his caught stealing percentage has risen dramatically. In 2003, he was successful only 53% of the time he attempted to steal. That figure is well below his career average of 73% prior to last season.
Interestingly, Luis has not lost any straight line speed, he is still one of the fastest runners in Major League Baseball. The problem Luis had was that in 2003 he was recovering from an off-season surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left hip. This condition made it uncomfortable for Luis to pivot from the lead position and get a good jump on his steals. With a full off-season of rest, expect Castillo to get his steal success rate back to his career norm in 2004 and for his steal total to increase from last years total.

Defense:
Castillo was honored with his outstanding defensive play by winning his first Gold Glove award in 2003. Being a converted SS, Luis is considered to have the strongest throwing arm of any 2B in the National League. The double play combination of him along with SS Alex Gonzalez may not only be one of the most under-rated duos but may very well be the best there is. Luis' foot speed and throwing arm allow him to make the spectacular play on many balls hit to the hole on either side. With Luis' hip injury now fully healed, it may be possible that his defensive play may be even better in 2004.

Overall:
Luis Castillo is one of the most intense players on the Marlins roster. Unfortunately for him, this intensity is often manifested through self-criticism. Luis can be overly hard on himself at times. But this is a double edged sword, in that Luis not only wants to play at a high level, he expects to. Perhaps it's a good thing to have a player that is not content unless he gets his job done. But Luis would be wise to tone it down a bit as it might help him in avoiding prolonged hitting slumps.
Luis Castillo is at the heart and soul of the Marlins team. His style exemplifies who they are; hard-working, tough, and willing to accept their role and limitations. His contributions are a vital part of the Marlins success. Offensively, he is part of their fire-plug top of the order (The Marlins played better than .700 ball when either Pierre or Castillo reached base twice in a game), and defensively he fits the Marlins belief that you must be strong up the middle. Because of this Luis was awarded a multi-year, big money contract. The only question is whether his new found financial security will have a negative impact on his game. That scenario is unlikely as Luis Castillo is a high character individual.

2004 Projections:

Year

Team

AVG

AB

R

HR

RBI

2B

3B

SB

BB

SO

2004

Florida

.318

575

95

4

35

22

5

32

68

57




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