The Pittsburgh Pirates will head into the 2023 season with a young middle infield. Could the second baseman take a step forward?
One thing that fans of the Pittsburgh Pirates can count on is Oneil Cruz being the Opening Day shortstop. The question this Spring has been more about who will play second base more than anything else. Really though the answer has always been pretty clear and obvious, Rodolfo Castro.
Castro was impressive in 2022. While everyone knows the power Cruz has, Castro has a good bit in his own right. Between 2021 and 2022 he played in a total of 102 Big League games. Through those games, he has 16 home runs. That would be a pace of just over 25 home runs across 162 games.
The 23-year-old was viewed as the lead candidate for the job coming into the season. He has had a decent, but not overly impressive Spring hitting .239 with 2 bombs in 46 at-bats. What makes Castro so tantalizing is the raw power he displays. He is not going to be an on-base type of player, his OBP in 2022 was .299, wouldn't call that great.
However, when you see him up there being aggressive it is easy to forget how much power he truly has in his bat. Yesterday, he hit an absolute bomb against the Red Sox:
That was a 99 mile per hour pitch that he sent to pull side, and just crushed. Castro is 23 years old, he is not a perfect player and never was touted as one. Are there some holes in his game? Sure, but is he young and still giving him time to still develop and improve? Yes. Castro has the highest upside in the infield out of anyone not named Oneil Cruz. It does not hurt to give him a more extended look and see if there are steps forward, because the power is there.