RODOLFO CASTRO, SHORTSTOP
|Born: May 21, 1999
Signed: Int’l Free Agent, 2015, Pittsburgh Pirates
How Acquired: International Free Agent
Country: Dominican Republic
WTM’s PLAYER PROFILE
|Castro is a shortstop who was signed more for his glove than his bat. So far, though, he’s shown a strong bat, including good power, with a suspect glove.
Castro’s first season went rather differently from the script. Despite doubts about his bat, he hit quite well, especially for a player who was barely 17 when the season began. He even showed some pop and good patience, although his strikeout rate was high. His defense was another story, as he had 34 errors and a frightening .884 fielding percentage. The Pirates stuck with him as the regular at short, though, and a player that young can develop a lot in a couple years.
Castro divided his time more or less equally between second, third and short in the GCL. Several factors may have contributed to him not spending more time at short. One was the presence of Victor Ngoepe, who’s a natural shortstop. The others were injuries to utility infielder Francisco Mepris and third baseman Jesse Medrano. Castro was very erratic in the field, with significant error problems at both third and short. He seems to have the physical ability to play short, and certainly has the arm. At the plate he hit for good power, finishing fourth in the league in slugging average. He did strike out a lot.
The Pirates moved Castro up to West Virginia, where he was one of the younger players at the level. With Oneil Cruz at short, he played second, although he started 11 games at short. He was very erratic at first, committing nine errors in his first 22 games at the position, but he had only seven more in his last 67. At the plate, he had a disappointing season, with a lack of patience and high K rate. He did make a lot of progress in the season’s second half, most of it in the form of increased power; he batted 247/294/451 starting from July 1. Like many switch-hitters, he had much more trouble batting right-handed, albeit in a small sample size; he had a .508 OPS against LHPs, compared with .710 against RHPs.
The Pirates sent Castro back to low A, in this case Greensboro. He played second primarly but also got 17 games at short, mainly when Connor Kaiser was out with minor injuries, and seven at third. At the plate, he mostly turned things around, hitting for very good power; if he’d had enough ABs, he would have led the league in ISO and been second in slugging. He doesn’t seem to have benefited too much from the extreme HR environment in Greensboro’s park, as he hit exactly half his low A HRs on the road. Castro was impatient, though, swinging at too many pitches, which led to a low average and OBP. The Pirates promoted him to Bradenton in late June and he got off to a rough start there, struggling to a .398 OPS in July. He turned it around partially in August, batting 299/346/443. He seems to have toned down his swing at Bradenton, as his K rate dropped. Defensively he again played primarily at second but started 16 games at short and four at third. Castro again hit much better left-handed than right-handed, with a .912 OPS vs. .704. Defensively, he showed good range and his error totals, at both second and short, weren’t bad.
Castro won’t turn 21 until two months into the 2020 season, so he’ll be a good age for the Florida State League. That’s probably where he’ll start off, but it’s not totally implausible that the Pirates could move him up to Altoona. He’s got the potential to be a very good offensive second baseman if he gets a little more patient at the plate.
|2020: Minor League Contract|
|Signing Bonus: $150,000
MiLB Debut: 2016
MLB Debut: N/A
MiLB FA Eligible: 2022
MLB FA Eligible: N/A
Rule 5 Eligible: 2020
Added to 40-Man: N/A
Options Remaining: 3
MLB Service Time: 0.000
|October 30, 2015: Signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates as an international free agent.