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Red Sox Top Prospect Voting: Pedro Castellanos searches for power

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He started to find it towards the end of last year.

Pedro Castellanos
Kelly O’Connor; https://sittingstill.smugmug.com/

As we go deeper into this list than we normally do thanks to a lack of baseball and thus lack of things to talk about — the minor-league season was supposed to start yesterday, for what it’s worth — we have seen this tier of the farm system fill up with a lot of recent international signees. We have another Latin player coming in at number 26 on our list, but he isn’t all that recent. The vote was close between three players, but Pedro Castellanos got the nod after grabbing 32 percent of the vote.

Castellanos was a July 2 signing back in the summer of 2015, which was the first of two signing periods in which the Red Sox were facing restrictions. This one was because of the old rules that said if you go over your limit in one year you may not sign anyone for more than $300,000 the following year. This was the year after they signed Yoán Moncada and Anderson Espinoza, among others. Even given those restrictions, Castellanos was not near the top of this signing class. Boston signed a bunch of players to six-figure bonuses that summer. Castellanos got four figures with a $5,000 signing bonus.

The following two summers, however, he would start to show people that maybe he deserved a little bit more respect than that coming out of Venezuela. The first baseman made his professional debut in the Dominican Summer League in the summer of 2016 and put on a good showing, hitting .326/.394/.496. He would move up to the complex in the GCL the following summer and continued to swing a hit bat there as well, .339/.385/.457. It is worth noting, though, that in those two seasons he combined for just five homers over 114 games, which is not what you’re looking for from a first baseman. Still, the overall line was good enough that he got a very small cup of coffee in Greenville to end that 2017 season.

That was also where he would start the 2018 season as he made his full-season debut that year in his age-20 season. The jump up to facing more advanced pitching made things a little more difficult for him as he was walking less and hitting for even less power, finishing with an Isolated Power (SLG - AVG) under .100. He also missed a little time and over 88 games hit a solid but unspectacular .302/.334/.387.

That led to this past year as he made the jump to Salem. Castellanos was now on the map, having moved long past that small signing bonus and advancing beyond everyone except Bryan Mata in that signing class. Still, the questions about his power were hard to get by and he was moving up to Salem, which is a notoriously tough park for power hitters not named Bobby Dalbec. Castellanos did play all year this time around, and finished with a solid .276/.321/.397 line. With park effects taken into consideration it’s a roughly equal output to the previous year in Greenville. Still, though, the power was not there. However, things did change on that end as the season was closing. Castellanos tweaked the swing a bit and over the last 25 games of the year he hit seven of his nine total home runs and had a total ISO of .302.

That was a small sample, of course. If that had happened over the entire season, he’d by much higher on this list and every other one. However, this kind of power is what scouts have been waiting for basically forever. He’s shown the raw power in batting practice, but Castellanos just hasn’t had the swing path to have it translate into games. Unfortunately, while he’s solid enough defensively at first base, that’s the only place he profiles. He needs the bat to carry his value, and it’s extremely difficult to do that without power. Castellanos does have a good hit tool and he’s made a ton of contact as a pro, but it’s not so good that it negates the need for power. The hope is that what we saw at the end of 2019 was a sign of the future, not a blip on the radar.

Despite him being so low on these lists, Castellanos was one of the prospects I was most excited about for a 2020 season, and not just because he was going to be up in Maine in my neck of the woods. He was going to be making a big jump to Double-A and he was going to be looking to prove that the strides from the end of last season were for real. Hopefully we can still get that at some point this summer. Either way, whenever baseball does come back he is a sleeper at first base, even if the defensive profile limits the ceiling and puts a ton of pressure on power we’ve only seen in very small doses.

Here’s our list so far:

1. Jeter Downs

2. Triston Casas

3. Bobby Dalbec

4. Bryan Mata

5. Noah Song

6. Gilberto Jimenez

7. Jay Groome

8. Jarren Duran

9. Thad Ward

10. Tanner Houck

11. Matthew Lugo

12. C.J. Chatham

13. Connor Wong

14. Nick Decker

15. Cameron Cannon

16. Marcus Wilson

17. Aldo Ramirez

18. Brayan Bello

19. Ryan Zeferjahn

20. Chris Murphy

21. Chih-Jung Liu

22. Bryan Gonzalez

23. Antoni Flores

24. Durbin Feltman

25. Brainer Bonaci

26. Pedro Castellanos

Now, you can head down into the comments and vote for the number two. As a reminder, to do this you go down below and find the comment from me corresponding with the player for whom you’d like to vote. When you find said player, just click the “rec” button, and that will count your vote. To do this, you will need to be logged in as a member of the site. If you’d like to vote for a player who is not listed, just leave a comment saying “Vote for ___ here” and I’ll rec the comment to count your vote. Until next time...