Pittsburgh Pirates: Five Under-the-Radar Prospects off to a Hot Start

Mar 1, 2019; Dunedin, FL, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates third baseman Rodolfo Castro (90) throws to first base to retire Toronto Blue Jays catcher Luke Maile (not pictured) during the sixth inning at Dunedin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 1, 2019; Dunedin, FL, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates third baseman Rodolfo Castro (90) throws to first base to retire Toronto Blue Jays catcher Luke Maile (not pictured) during the sixth inning at Dunedin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports /
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Pittsburgh Pirates
CLEARWATER, FLORIDA – MARCH 05: Rodolfo Castro #64 of the Pittsburgh Pirates fields a ground ball during the first inning against the Philadelphia Phillies during a spring training game at Phillies Spring Training Ball Park on March 05, 2021 in Clearwater, Florida. (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images) /

Infielder Rodolfo Castro

Among all the players we talk about today, infielder Rodolfo Castro is likely the most noteworthy. He currently ranks as the team’s 34th best prospect on FanGraphs but is unranked on MLB Pipeline’s top 30 Pirates prospects. Regardless of that, Castro is having a career year at Double-A Altoona.

Castro has collected 117 total plate appearances so far and is batting .279/.350/.471 with a .362 wOBA, and 117 wRC+. His .822 OPS would fall just a single point short of his career-best, which he set in 2017 at the Gulf Coast League.

Castro has seen a slight improvement in plate discipline. So far, he’s walking at an 8.5% rate. This is currently the second-best mark of his career. In 2016, his first professional season, Castro had an 11.7% rate. However, he’s also striking out just 21.4% of the time. Again, this would be his next best mark since 2016.

However, these are massive improvements compared to 2018-2019. Between these two seasons, Castro only had a 6.4% walk rate and 26.3% strikeout rate. He essentially sold out for power, blasting at least a dozen long balls in both seasons while having a .164 isolated slugging percentage in 2018, and then a .214 mark in 2019. But he’s still providing some good power this year with a .192 ISO, 4 home runs, and 6 doubles. At his rate, he’s on pace for 20 home runs and 30 doubles across a 600 plate appearance season.

Castro has mainly played third base this year but has seen an ample amount of time at both middle infield positions in the past. He’s considered an average defender and above-average runner. Castro has already made his major league debut where he went 0-3. But given his great start to 2021, we may see him at the tail-end of the season as a utility man.

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