The wealth of talented young players in MLB today has never been rivaled; we are on the cusp of witnessing greatness in the likes of: Carlos Correa, Kris Bryant, Mike Trout and Bryce Harper.
You will be absolutely shocked if you look at a list of the current MLB stars aged 26 and younger, the sheer number of players performing at an all-star level at such a young age is staggering.
While we are all familiar with the Noah Syndergaard and Nolan Arenado’s of the league, in this multi-part series we will explore some of the budding MLB stars of tomorrow, that we may not necessarily know today. Our first installment began in Atlanta with the Braves’ 23 year-old Centerfielder, the ultra-athletic Mallex Smith. Let’s shift our focus to Detroit, where 24 year-old third baseman (3B) Nick Castellanos is in the midst of breakthrough season; appearing as an early AL MVP candidate for the Tigers.
Third Baseman (3B)
Bats: Right / Throws: Right
Height: 6′ 4″ / Weight: 210 lbs.
DOB: March 4th, 1992 (24 years old)
Drafted 44th Overall in 2010 MLB Draft
Path to the Majors
Nick Castellanos made his MLB debut, at the age of 21, during the 2013 season for the Detroit Tigers. A 1st Round compensation pick by the organization in 2010, Castellanos raked his way through the minors and was a highly touted prospect as he rose through the ranks to the big leagues. During the 2012 season, Castellanos was named the MVP of the All-Star Futures game played at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City.
Early MLB Campaign Results
Assuming the starting third baseman position for the Tigers entering the 2014 season, expectations for Castellanos were extremely high. Castellanos flashed his potential at times but statistics from his 2014 & 2015 seasons (.700 & .721 OPS, respectively) largely reflect the fact that he was adjusting to MLB pitching and developing his approach at the plate. Over a combined 302 games in the 2014-2015 seasons, Castellanos hit a total of 26 home runs while playing his home games in the pitcher-friendly Comerica Park.
Breakout Start to 2016 Season
Although Castellanos’ MLB track record entering the 2016 season was quite incredible (for a player just 24 years of age), it is clear Castellanos has only begun to scratch the surface of his potential. Through only 37 games of the 2016 season, Castellanos has emerged as a force in the middle of the Tigers’ line-up. Hitting in a line-up among some of the league’s notable stars, including Miguel Cabrera, J.D. Martinez and Justin Upton; Castellanos has proven to be the Tigers’ leader at the plate early on this season, with a stat-line of .346 Batting Avg. / 8 Home Runs / .970 OPS (On-Base Plus Slugging).
Castellanos’ .346 batting average leads all American League (“AL”) positional players and his adjusted OPS+ of 165 ranks him 4th in the AL. Clearly it is too early on in the season to assume Castellanos will be able to produce at this level for a full season; however, I do believe we are looking at one of the future stars of the MLB blossoming and maturing right in front of our eyes.
Outlook & MLB Comparisons
Nick Castellanos has a bright future in front of him, it would not be a stretch to see Castellanos take the torch from Miguel Cabrera as the Tigers’ franchise player, over the next few seasons. The former Junior Team USA player, Castellanos has always had the raw tools; it is just recently that his approach to hitting has caught up with his potential. Look for Castellanos to be a fixture among the best third basemen in the league for the next decade.
MLB Comparisons: Evan Longoria