Pittsburgh Pirates: Diego Castillo Making a Case for 2022 MLB Time

(Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***
(Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** /

Pittsburgh Pirates infield prospect Diego Castillo is having a strong year in the upper minor leagues, making a strong case to be a regular early in the 2022 season

In late July the Pittsburgh Pirates traded right-handed reliever Clay Holmes to the New York Yankees in exchange for two infield prospects. The first being utility man Hoy Park who was raking at Triple-A. The other was Diego Castillo. Castillo has had a fantastic 2021 season and he is making a case to be the Pirates’ starting shortstop in early 2022.

Through his first 384 plate appearances in the Pittsburgh Pirates farm system Castillo has hit .285/.352/.497 with 17 long balls, and a .370 wOBA. Castillo has shown a fair amount of power this year. Previously, he never hit for that much pop, but he’s on pace for 34 doubles and 26 home runs in 600 plate appearances, as well as a .212 isolated slugging percentage.

Castillo has always had fantastic strikeout rates. Currently, he has an 11.5% rate and career 10.4% rate. However, he’s walking at a respectable 8.9% mark. His previous career high was just 7.6%. He’s showing an ability to walks, avoid strikeouts, and some pop. It’s not like he’s getting insanely lucky either. He has a .275 batting average on balls in play. He’s also put up a sub-40% ground ball rate at Double-A (40% in only 14 PAs at Triple-A).

Additionally, his fly ball rate is way up compared to years prior. Just looking at BAbip alone, he’s getting unlucky more than he is getting lucky. That is about 10 points lower than his actual batting average. Think about the kind of numbers he’d put up if his BAbip was .300, which is usually league average?

The Pittsburgh Pirates must also hold Castillo in high regard. They promoted him to Triple-A at the very end of August. So far at Indianapolis, he’s collected 14 plate appearances, 5 hits (1 home run and 1 double), while drawing 3 walks. Small sample size, but a promising one at that. Given what he did with the Pirate and Yankee Double-A affiliate, Castillo continues to be a hit machine.

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Castillo is making a really good case to be one of the Pirates’ middle infielders in 2022, and even early 2022. So long as he doesn’t suffer an injury, Castillo should be the team’s starting second baseman or shortstop by the end of April next season.