July 10th, 2012

Cabrera: Castellanos more athletic than me at that age

Miguel Cabrera seemed a little surprised to learn that Tigers top prospect Nick Castellanos has been tracking fly balls in the outfield at Double-A Erie. That wasn’t a position change he had been thinking about. But if that’s a position shift looming for Castellanos, Cabrera sounds confident he can do it.

Cabrera should know. He made the shift when the Florida Marlins first called him up in 2003 after spending all but three games at third base at Double-A Carolina (he played those other three games in left field).

“It was easy because I was young. I was able to do that,” Cabrera said Tuesday afternoon before All-Star batting practice. “I was surprised at the time, but it was an opportunity to play in the big leagues. When they gave me the opportunity, I wanted to work hard, not throw away the opportunity they gave to me and try to make it and try to be consistent in the big leagues.”

When asked about Castellanos’ potential move in the future, Cabrera said, “He’s more athletic than me back when I was that age. He’s faster than me.”

That is not a shallow compliment. At 20, a slender Cabrera was one of the best athletes in baseball, capable of many of the feats he does now but with more speed and agility.

Cabrera did not see Castellanos’ MVP performance in Sunday’s All-Star Futures Game; he had the Tigers’ first-half finale to worry about. However, he knows his ability well.

“He can hit,” Cabrera said. “We worked out in the offseason with him, with hitting. We were hitting together. We were able to see how he’s a smart hitter with his approach he had at home plate. I think if he’s able to do that, I think he’s going to be successful in the big leagues.”