Rodolfo Castro has given the Pittsburgh Pirates a solid rookie campaign, but what kind of role could he play in the future for the team?
Going into 2022, Rodolfo Castro was among the many MLB-ready infield prospects in the Pittsburgh Pirates farm system. A young infielder who showed good power throughout the minor leagues, Castro has continued to hit for pop in 2022. But, with myriad infield prospects in the upper levels of the minor leagues, what kind of Role could Castro settle into?
On the season, Castro has a solid .233/.295/.435 slash line, .317 wOBA, and 102 wRC+. It’s overall roughly league average production. Castro has hit nine home runs in just 210 plate appearances while having five stolen bases. On the downside, he has a 7.1% walk rate and 27.1% strikeout rate.
Castro has been very good since getting re-promoted to the major leagues. After getting demoted to Triple-A in June, Castro re-joined the Bucs in early August. In his last 132 trips to the plate, Castro is slashing .254/.311/.516 with a .354 wOBA and 127 wRC+. He’s also hit eight dingers in this stretch, with a .262 isolated slugging percentage. But like his overall season numbers, Castro has a weak 7.4% walk rate and 28.8% strikeout rate.
Plate discipline has never been one of Castro’s strong suits. Throughout his minor league career, Castro had a 24.4% strikeout rate and a 7.7% walk rate. On the plus side, he did have 66 home runs in 1992 plate appearances and a .189 isolated slugging percentage. He’s hit at least a dozen home runs in each of his last four campaigns (including playing time in the major leagues).
But Castro is both defensively limited and does most of his damage to southpaws. His primary position of second base has seen him post just -2 DRS, -10.3 UZR/150, and -3 outs above average. Castro also is batting .246/.288/.581 with a .366 wOBA and 135 wRC+ against lefties but has mustered a .229/.299/.366 line, .295 wOBA, and 87 wRC+ when he faces same-handed pitching.
Castro has done everything to earn the starting second base role for 2023. But he’ll surely feel the heat under him throughout the year. With Ji-Hwan Bae and Nick Gonzales hitting in the upper levels of the minor leagues, Diego Castillo also on hand, and Liover Peguero in the upper levels of the minor leagues, Castro isn’t guaranteed to hold onto the keystone for the entirety of 2023.
The Pittsburgh Pirates aren’t going to take away playing time from Ke’Bryan Hayes nor Oneil Cruz to give to Castro. But with the designated hitter, the Pirates should still be able to find playing time for Castro. He could split time between there and infield positions to give guys days off when needed.
Castro provides the Pittsburgh Pirates with a power bat, one who deserves regular reps in 2023. You can argue about where he would play best, but at the very least, he could give the team power out of the DH spot and the keystone. I and many others are looking forward to what he could do in a full season’s worth of playing time. The Pirates could have four 20+ home run hitters in the line-up next season between Oneil Cruz, Jack Suwinski, Bryan Reynolds, and Castro.