Starlin Castro has attracted a lot of attention in recent weeks. His play in the Arizona Fall League coupled with his 2009 campaign has moved the 19-year old shortstop up the Cubs’ prospect list. A report from Cubs.com made the statement, “Starlin Castro is ready for the big leagues.” Starlin Castro was born on March 24, 1990 in the Dominican Republic … he hits and throws right-handed (6’1″, 160 at beginning of 2009 season). Jose Serra signed Starlin Castro out of the Dominican Republic on October 25, 2006. Castro played in the Dominican Summer League in 2007 (at age 17) and put up a solid line in 60 games (.299/.371/.371 with six doubles, two triples and two home runs with 23 walks and 24 strikeouts). Castro then spent 2008 in the Arizona Rookie League and impressed the Cubs enough to start 2009 in High Class-A.
During his 51 games in rookie ball in 2008 Castro hit .311/.364/.464 with 11 doubles, five triples and three home runs with 14 walks and 33 strikeouts in 196 at bats. Castro began turning heads within the Cubs organization … and throughout baseball.
Starlin Castro was named the Cubs’ seventh best prospect by Baseball America before the 2009 season … and Baseball America figured he would spend his year with short-season Boise. The Cubs started him out in High Class-A with the Daytona Cubs.
In their annual look at the Cubs’ farm system, the VineLine had the following to say about Castro:
“After hitting .311 in the Arizona League, the rangy Dominican showed Cubs brass he has the makings of a five-tool player. He runs well, fields well and has shown flashes of power as illustrated by his three homers and 11 doubles. Castro reminds Oneri Fleita of a young Edgar Renteria – a good team player with impeccable work ethic.”
Starlin Castro was listed as having the best range at shortstop in the system (along with Darwin Barney). Castro “anticipates well and moves quickly to both sides.” As for arm strength, the VineLine listed Castro has having the best in the system. Castro “has the ability to make deep plays in the hole.” And for his footwork, Castro was equal to Darwin Barney in the system once again … “Castro’s natural ability shows around the bag.”
The Cubs skipped Starlin Castro two levels and he began the year with the Daytona Cubs in the Florida State League. He put up an impressive line of .302/.340/.391/.731 in 96 games. Castro hit 17 doubles, three triples, and three home runs and walked 22 times (struck out 41 times in 358 at bats).
Castro earned a Mid-Season All Star selection in the Florida State League and played in XM Radio’s Futures Game (along with Josh Vitters) in St. Louis in July during All-Star weekend festivities. Despite finishing the year in Double-A with Ryne Sandberg, Castro was named to the FSL Post-Season All Star team.
Castro stole the show at the FSL All-Star game. He went 4-for-4 with an inside the park home run. Castro was named MVP of the game.
Starlin Castro finished his season in Double-A with the Tennessee Smokies. Castro hit .288/.347/.396/.744 in 31 games (111 at bats) after a slow start with six doubles, three triples and no home runs. Castro walked ten times and struck out only 12 times after showing more patience at the plate as the year progressed.
Castro hit first, third and eighth in various lineups with Daytona and Tennessee and had success in each spot.
Some have questioned Starlin Castro’s defense … he is a young-man still learning to play the game. Labels such as “defensive liability” have been used and some took his recent time at second base in the AFL as proof. Castro appears to have all of the tools to be a very good big league shortstop.
Oneri Fleita on Castro
“I think he’s got all of the ability in the world to play shortstop. He’s got great range and a tremendous throwing arm. Like most kids when they’re young, he may be a little inaccurate at times, but that takes care of itself through time.”
Tim Wilken compared Starlin Castro to Tony Fernandez.
From Baseball America
“At shortstop, he has plus range, steady hands and a solid arm with good accuracy. He displays fine instincts at the plate and in the field.”
Andrew Cashner on Castro
“Defensively, I think he’s ready. He saved me a lot this past season. He made special plays out there. I think it’s more instincts for him. Everything is natural.”
Keith Law on Castro
“At shortstop, he has good lateral range, especially to his right, and a 65-70 arm on the 20-80 scale.”
“While he’s not the next Ozzie Smith, he is a true shortstop who also has surprisingly solid defensive fundamentals for such a young talent, as he’s also yet to make an error in Arizona.”
“… All while showing solid, if not plus defensive ability. He needs to add something to his offensive game other than batting average to move into elite status, but able to compete at these levels – including the Arizona Fall League as a teenager – is very impressive.”
From Buster Olney’s Blog (October 22)
“Talent evaluators are raving about Cubs shortstop prospect Starlin Castro. He’s the most exciting kid here, according to one evaluator. He’s got a chance to be a superstar. He’s got the bat speed, the strength, and he’s somewhere between a Jose Reyes type of defender and a Hanley Ramirez type of guy. He looks pretty special.”
Buster Olney reminded his readers that despite the fact Starlin Castro figures to be the Cubs full-time shortstop in 2011, Lou Piniella has “never been afraid to aggressively promote very young players with superlative talent – such as Alex Rodriguez.”
Starlin Castro on his future … “I want to be the best shortstop in the Major Leagues.”
Starlin Castro could end up as the Cubs’ top prospect and make an impact one day for the big league club … or he could end up like many of the top prospects in recent years. Only time will tell.