Pittsburgh Pirates Minors: Getting to Know Rodolfo Castro

Jul 7, 2020; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States; Pittsburgh Pirates general manager Ben Cherington observes Summer Training workouts at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 7, 2020; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States; Pittsburgh Pirates general manager Ben Cherington observes Summer Training workouts at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /
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On Friday, the Pittsburgh Pirates added infielder Rodolfo Castro to the 40-man roster to protect him from next month’s Rule 5 Draft. Let’s get to know the switch hitting prospect and examine why the Pirates protected him

Switch hitting middle infielder Rodolfo Castro is now a member of the 40-man roster for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Friday afternoon, the Pirates added Castro, along with Max Kranick, to the 40-man roster. This was done to protect the two prospects from the upcoming Rule 5 Draft.

To make room for Castro and Kranick on the 40-man roster, a pair of veterans were designated for assignment. These two players were starting pitcher Trevor Williams and infielder/outfielder Jose Osuna.

Castro is a 21-year-old from the Dominican Republic. Castro can play both second base and shortstop. He was signed as an international free agent by the Pittsburgh Pirates on October 30, 2015.

In 2019, Castro started the year with Low-A Greensboro. With the Grasshoppers, Castro hit for a .242/.306/.512 slash line to go with an isolated power (ISO) if .274 and a 131 wRC+. He hit 14 home runs and collected extra base hits at a 13.5% clip.

His success earned Castro a promotion to High-A Bradenton. With Bradenton, his numbers would dip some. His slash line with the Marauders was .243/.288/.391 to go with a .149 ISO and a wRC+ of 99. He did, however, add 5 more home runs with Bradenton, and a 9.4% extra base hit rate.

Had there been a minor league season in 2020, Castro would have reached Double-A Altoona at some point. To be honest, it would not have been a surprise if he had started the year in Altoona. With a good showing in Altoona, he would have been knocking on the door of Triple-A. Potentially, he could have even reached the Triple-A level.

Even without a minor league season, Castro still spent his 2020 season at Altoona. He worked out at the alternate training site for the Pittsburgh Pirates throughout the season as part of their 60-man player pool. The fact the Pirates sent Castro to the alternate training site just goes to show that Ben Cherington and his staff think highly of Castro.

The power potential with Castro is what is most intriguing. We have covered his great power numbers with Low-A Greensboro in 2019. Prior to that, he posted a .164 ISO to go with 12 home runs and a 9.1% extra base hit rate at Low-A in 2018. With the GCL Pirates in 2017, Castro’s ISO was .202, he slugged .479, and he collected extra base hits at an 11.7% rate.

FanGraphs ranks Castro as the 12th best prospect in the Pirate minor league system. They give his arm a future value of 50 and his glove a future vlaue of 45. His speed gets a future value of 55 and his raw power a 50. FanGraphs gives Castro an overall future value of 45. For reference, any tool rated higher than 45 is considered to be above average, and a player with a future value of 45 is considered to be a future low end regular MLB player.

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With his ability to play two infield positions at a high level and his potential to hit for above average power at the positions it is easy to see why the Pittsburgh Pirates chose to protect Castro from the Rule 5 Draft. Had Castro not been protected, there is a chance he would have been selected in the Rule 5 Draft. Instead, he will remain a member of the deep and talented Pirate farm system.

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