Pittsburgh Pirates: Rodolfo Castro Needs to be Given Regular At-Bats

NEW YORK, NY - JULY 11: Rodolfo Castro #64 of the Pittsburgh Pirates in action against the New York Mets during a game at Citi Field on July 11, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 11: Rodolfo Castro #64 of the Pittsburgh Pirates in action against the New York Mets during a game at Citi Field on July 11, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) /
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Pittsburgh Pirates infield prospect Rodolfo Castro needs to be given a shot at regular playing time in the second half of the 2021 season.

Pittsburgh Pirates prospect Rodolfo Castro has been showing a lot of promise this season. He’s had a great year at Double-A Altoona and has 3 home runs in the Major Leagues. The team needs to find a way to get him at least semi-regular playing time in the second half of this season.

Castro has been one of the best Pirate farmhands. In 212 plate appearances, he’s hitting .306/.349/.549 with a .380 wOBA, and 137 wRC+. Castro has always been praised for his raw power. In 2019, he slugged 19 home runs and had a .214 isolated slugging percentage. So far this year, he already has 11 home runs with a .243 isolated slugging.

Castro’s power has earned him solid grades by FanGraphs. They have his game power as a projected 50-grade while his raw power is seen as a 55-grade. Castro has translated some of this power into the big leagues. So far, all three of his hits have left the park.

Castro’s plate discipline is average at best. He has only walked 5.2% of the time this year but has a solid 20.3% strikeout rate at Double-A. Though, he has walked 2 times already in 15 major league plate appearances while striking out 4 times, leading to a pretty solid .333 OBP once you consider his batting average is .231.

The question is where would Castro play? He’s primarily played second base, third base, and shortstop throughout the minors. He has yet to play shortstop in 2021 but has 952 innings logged at the middle infield position. Overall, he’s an average defender with a strong arm that can play at both third base and shortstop. Given that both Kevin Newman and Erik Gonzalez have been the main answers at short and have OPS both well below .600, Castro could see some time there.

If Adam Frazier is traded, the obvious answer is second base. However, an outfield position could be another option. Although Castro doesn’t have professional experience in an outfield corner, he’s athletic enough to play one. Bryan Reynolds has been stellar this year. Ben Gamel has silently been producing ever since being claimed by the Pirates back in early May. Gregory Polanco has been the weakest link, having a sub-.700 OPS and currently on the injured list.

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In any case, the Pittsburgh Pirates need to find playing time for Castro in the Major Leagues in the second half of the season. While he may not be the long-term answer at an infield or outfield spot, he could be a very solid bench or platoon bat with some pop. Either way, he needs to at least be given a shot.

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