Alex Castellanos has hit from the moment the Dodgers acquired him at the 2011 non-waiver trade deadline, from the Cardinals for shortstop Rafael Furcal. The problem has been finding a position for Castellanos, who will try to add to his bag of tricks this spring.
Castellanos came up through the St. Louis system playing both second and third base, but in 2010 shifted to the outfield. In 2012 the Dodgers tried to switch him back to second base in Triple-A Albuquerque, though he played exclusively outfield in his few stints with the Dodgers. Castellanos was switched yet again in the second half with the Isotopes, as he moved to third base.
The outfield work for Castellanos has been in the corners, until this winter when he played center field for Tiburones de la Guaira in the Venezuelan Winter League.
"Alex will get some playing time all over. We're going to see what he looks like in center a little bit," manager Don Mattingly said. "He played center in winter ball, and the reports were good."
With both Carl Crawford and Matt Kemp out at least the first week of spring training games, there will be a lot of outfield playing time available for Castellanos, especially in center field. If he can add to his versatility, that will increase his chances of making the roster.
As it stands, the Dodgers' bench currently includes Jerry Hairston Jr., Skip Schumaker, Nick Punto, a backup catcher, and Juan Uribe. There isn't a lot of power on that bench, and utility men Hairston and Schumaker are the only ones to backup in the outfield.
With Crawford, Kemp, and Andre Ethier, a backup outfielder would normally not be such a huge need, but both Crawford and Kemp are coming off surgery so perhaps in the early part of the season at least such a player is needed. A player like Castellanos.
Even if he doesn't beat out one of those five bench players above (really, Uribe seems like the only one who might not make the team), Castellanos could make the opening day roster if Mattingly decides to go with an extra bench player. The Dodgers because of off days don't need a fifth starter until Apr. 13, so they could go the first 10 games with either an extra reliever or position player.
Mattingly said Thursday it's far to early to know which direction he will go with that potential extra spot, but Castellanos could make the decision easier with a solid spring.
Castellanos made his major league debut on May 31, 2012, and in the eighth inning was hit by a pitch from Brewers pitcher Kameron Loe. Castellanos became the first Dodger to get hit by a pitch in his first major league plate appearance since Chad Billingsley, on June 15, 2006.
"It was fun," Castellanos said of his debut. "It just sucked that I got hit in the elbow."
Castellanos has 41 days of service time, and two option years remaining.
Previous Player Profiles
2012: Icing on the cake
|2011 (AA - Springfield)
|2011 (AA - Chattanooga)
|2012 (AAA - Albuquerque)
|2013 Projections - Age 26 Season|
Castellanos was also 4-for-23 with a triple and a home run in his brief time with the Dodgers in 2012.
I'm not sure if Castellanos makes the opening day roster, but he certainly has a good opportunity to do so. At the very least, he figures to be in Los Angeles at some point this season. I will guess Castellanos hits .264/.318/.409 in 167 plate appearances.
What is your guess for Castellanos in 2012? Be sure to guess BA/OBP/SLG, and anything else you wish to guess.