BY RICKY LINDSAY, Staff Writer
It’s about the time when teams start calling up their top prospects for a stretch run in MLB.
With the recent call up of Texas Rangers’ prospect Mike Olt, many Tigers’ fans have to wonder if they should call up Nick Castellanos. Olt expects to make a splash for the Rangers, like previous top prospects Mike Trout and Bryce Harper.
The difference between Olt, Trout, and Harper, is that Harper and Trout are 19 and 20 years old respectively, while Olt is 23. Harper was labeled “Baseball’s LeBron” by Sports Illustrated when he was 16 years old, while Trout recently acquired phenom status with his extraordinary rookie season while leading the Angels to a great year.
Many speculate that Olt will be used to invigorate a struggling Rangers’ offense. It was announced Thursday he will start at first base or designated hitter against lefties.
Olt has definitely earned his promotion to the show, putting up fabulous numbers at AA Frisco. He’s hit .288 with 28 home runs and 82 rbis, earning a spot in July’s Futures Game.
Harper made his debut this April, thanks to a depleted Nationals outfield that suffered early injuries in the season. Most fans speculated that Harper wasn’t going to have to wait long for his call to DC, and he’s obviously proved his keep while playing a huge role the Nationals amazing 2012 season.
Castellanos could definitely join in the ranks of those players soon. This situation has become larger, especially with a surprise appearance at Fenway Park by Castellanos himself during the Tigers’ series against the Red Sox.
The problem with Castellanos isn’t statistics or the need of help at the Major League level; it’s his amount of experience, particularly on the defensive side. Castellanos doesn’t have anything hindering him offensively, as he’s torched minor league pitching since being drafted in 2010.
In only two season of professional baseball, he has played at shortstop, third base, and now the outfield, in hopes of making it to Detroit sooner without any roadblocks, like superstar Miguel Cabrera. So far, Castellanos has only played less than a month in the outfield and needs more experience before making a difference in Detroit, especially in the midst of a pennant race.
Keep in mind that Castellanos is only 20 years old, and is currently trying to learn how to play a new position, unlike other players that have had experience at the same position for almost all of their competitive baseball life. Castellanos excelled with his first position change, and is expected to do the same with the transition to the outfield.
There are only two reasons that would make sense for the Tigers NOT to bring Castellanos up to Detroit. One, you don’t want to put the pressure of immediate production on a 20 year old who has only played two months in his new position, and two, you think the experience will hurt his growth as an all-around player.
The problem with reason number two is that it mainly applies to pitchers. Look at Jacob Turner; he wasn’t ready stuff wise to face Major League hitters. Hitters like Trout and Harper were ready to face Major League pitchers because it’s a much easier transition than what young pitchers face when being called up.
One thing is certain, if the Tigers plan on using Castellanos in the playoffs, he will reach Detroit before August 31 because that is the deadline to set postseason rosters. That’s why you see Olt being called up now because the Rangers want to give him the experience now and plan to use his offensive talent in playoff situations.
All signs point towards a call up to Detroit in Castellanos near future. Time will only tell whether it’s for a September playoff run or postseason play.