Pittsburgh Pirates: Opportunity Knocking for Rodolfo Castro in 2023

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When the 2023 season begins opportunity will be knocking for Rodolfo Castro with the Pittsburgh Pirates

As is often the case with teams that are not expected to compete, there will be plenty of opportunities to go around for Pittsburgh Pirates players during the 2023 season. Few players could have a bigger opportunity in 2023 than Rodolfo Castro.

Castro's season was a tale of two seasons, however. He was optioned back to the minors in early June before being recalled to the majors in early August. Castro returned to the Pirate lineup on August 9th and was one of the team's best hitters for the rest of the season.

Across a pair of stints at the major league level Castro had 278 plate appearances with the Pittsburgh Pirates last season. In these 278 PAs the switch-hitting Castro hit for a .233/.299/.427 slash line with an isolated slugging (ISO) of .194, to go with a 103 wRC+ and a 102 OPS+. He finished the season being worth a WAR of 1.4, which put him on a pace that would be worth more than 3.0 WAR over the course of a full season.

From August 9th through the rest of the season Castro had 200 PAs. In these 200 PAs he hit for a .247/.310/.478 slash line to go with a .231 ISO and a wRC+ of 119. While he struck out at a 27.5% clip, he also drew walks at an 8.5% rate while collecting extra base hits at a rate of 9.5%. This included hitting 10 home runs.

Another big plus for Castro following his second promotion was his defensive use. During his first stint with the club, he played more shortstop than any other position, which is his worst defensive position.

After moving off shortstop you could even see a change in Castro's body language and demeanor both in the field and at the plate. Odds are, removing his defensive struggles at shortstop from the equation helped with his improved offense in his second MLB stint of the season.

Castro is a prospect that often times got lost in the shuffle in the eyes of Pirate fans. However, infielder with the combination of athleticism and raw power that Castro possesses are rare. As he started to show last season, the tools are there for Castro to be a very good MLB player.

Looking ahead to 2023 opportunity will be knocking for Castro. Right now he would likely be the odds-on favorite to start at second base for the Pittsburgh Pirates. If Castro can pick up where he left off at in 2022 then he could hit his way into locking down an every day job at second base with the Pirates for the foreseeable future.

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Even though the Pirates will likely have former first-round pick Nick Gonzales playing second base for Triple-A Indianapolis when the 2023 season begins, opportunity will still be knocking for Castro. If Castro can continue to hit the way he did in his final 200 PAs of the 2022 season, then, no matter what Gonzales does or does not do in the minors, Castro will have a role with the Pirates.