Lasorda’s Lair regulars will recall our article last week profiling the Dodgers prospects who would be taking part in the prestigious Arizona Fall League, also known as “the finishing school for elite prospects, according to Ken Gurnick of MLB.com.
So far most of the prospects have gotten off to slow starts. Jake Lemmerman is batting .111 with 2 hits in 18 at-bats, Gorman Erickson has 2 hits in 16 at-bats, and Kyle Russell is 1-for-10, with all 5 of their hits being singles.
On the pitching side Stephen Fife is sporting an ERA over 8 after his first 2 starts, but relievers Steven Ames 1.69 ERA, Cole St. Clair 1.80 ERA and Josh Wall 2.08 ERA are all off to strong starts. Combining to allow only 3 earned runs in just over 14 innings pitched, and all could make a case for a spot in the Dodgers bullpen next season.
However the undoubted star for the Salt River Rafters has been Alex Castellanos. The 25 year old outfielder who was acquired from the Cardinals in the Rafael Furcal deal, already has 3 homers and 3 games with 3 hits, in just 8 games. He’s hitting an impressive .379 with a ridiculous 1.298 OPS.
More importantly, and I realize it’s a very small sample size, but coming off a season in which he was the Texas League runner-up in both batting average (.319) and slugging percentage (.562), he also struck out 118 times in 475 at-bats. However thus far this fall he’s struck out just 5 times while walking 5 times in 29 at-bats.
But for me the most intriguing news about Castellanos comes from Ken Gurnick at MLB.com who reports that Don Mattingly said:
"Castellanos might be tried at second base after playing primarily in right field, although he started his pro career as an infielder."
The Dodgers clearly have a need at second base, Ned Colletti recently sat down with ESPN’s Jim Bowden, and summed up the second base situation by saying:
"We need to figure out second base. Carroll and Miles are free agents. Right now we have the two young players in Sellers and Ivan DeJesus that we might let compete for that job next year."
Considering Ivan De Jesus was snubbed for a September call-up for the second straight year I have a hard time seeing him as a legitimate option for the second base job. Justin Sellers to me profiles as another Jamey Carroll, except that he can fit more chew into his bottom lip than any Dodger since Gary Sheffield.
Castellanos potentially provides some much needed pop in the middle of the Dodgers infield, but defensively he’s clearly behind Sellers and De Jesus. However,I’d gladly give up some defensive deficiencies for some offense, any offense. Also considering the last Texas League stud that Ned Colletti traded for was Andre Ethier, who knows, maybe Castellanos can come out of nowhere and take over at second base. I realize that’s a huge reach but “how about a little something for the effort.”
Even the most optimistic Dodgers fan can’t be doing cartwheels at the prospects of Sellers/IDJ/Carroll or Miles as the everyday second baseman in 2012. It’s hard to imagine Miles matching the numbers he put up in 2011 if he is re-signed. So why not see what Castellanos has to offer, again it’s not like the Dodgers have been getting Rickie Weeks or Ian Kinsler production at the position.
I had a hard time finding any photos of Castellanos in anything other than a Cardinals uniform, but I did stumble across this article about him from May, on Scout.com, and yes I’m a sucker but the more I read about young Alex the more intrigued I am, especially about him as a second baseman.
All he’s done is hit since he became a member of the Dodgers organization, and he certainly isn’t hurting his cause with his stand-out performance thus far in the Arizona Fall League. So…let the hype begin!