From the desk of: HEAD-BUTTING MR. MET
NEW YORK METS: Alex Castellanos can do no worse than Michael Cuddyer, but we won't find out because of Cuddyer's damn contract.
Mets fans knew little of outfielder/third baseman Alex Castellanos when general manager Sandy Alderson signed him as a free agent back in November.
He was originally drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 10th round of the 2008 amateur draft, and stayed in their organization until July 2011, when he was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers for infielder Rafael Furcal.
Alex split the 2011 season playing double-A ball for both organizations. In 125 combined games and 475 at-bats he slashed an eye grabbing .320/.386/.573, with 23 home runs and 85 RBI.
He then started the 2012 season at (AAA)-Albuquerque (in the notoriously hitter friendly Pacific Coast League), where in 94 games and 344 at-bats, he slashed .328/.420/.590, with 17 home runs and 52 RBI.
He made his MLB debut with the Dodgers that season on May 31st, subbing for an injured Matt Kemp. In 16 games, he played both left and right field, and was just 4 for 23 at the plate, with a home run and 3 RBI.
Castellanos returned to Albuquerque in 2013, and experienced a dip in his overall hitting. In 104 games and 385 at-bats, Alex's slash dropped to .257/.347/.468, but he still produced 19 home runs and 61 RBI.
In October, however, the Dodgers traded him to the Boston Red Sox. Two short months later he was claimed by the Texas Rangers off waivers. In March of 2014, Alex was again selected off waivers, this time by the San Diego Padres.
He spent last season at (AAA)-El Paso, where as a 27-year old Castellanos slashed a modest .275/.351/.439, with just 8 home runs and 42 RBI.
The Padres perhaps arrived at the same conclusion St. Louis, Los Angeles, and Texas did before them, which is Alex Castellanos' rate of strikeouts is too high. In 2,594 at-bats, he has fanned 691 times, or, 27% of the time. Whatever their reason, San Diego granted Alex his free agency last November.
Now settled in with the Las Vegas 51s, Alex Castellanos, 28, has seemingly regained his stroke. Entering Thursday night's action, Vegas' clean-up hitter was slashing .297/.369/.590, with 29 doubles, 15 home runs and 51 RBI. His rate of strikeouts, however, remained unchanged. He fanned 71 times in 266 at-bats, or, 27% of the time.
In Thursday night's twin bill against the Salt Lake Bees, Alex raised his season average to .309 by going 5 for 6, with 3 doubles, 3 runs scored, and one RBI.
Defensively, Alex has 111 games of minor league experience at second base, 168 games at third, and 483 games in the outfield. With a .969 FA at second, and an .898 FA at third, his infield glove is obviously far from golden. He has a combined .986 FA in the outfield. He's played mostly right field, although left field is perhaps his strongest position.
That got me thinking - despite maybe becoming accustomed to playing in the Pacific Coast League, and his high rate of strikeouts, Alex Castellanos can't do any worse than Michael Cuddyer.