July 12th, 2012

Castellanos starting in RF for Erie SeaWolves

So much for just taking fly balls in the outfield. Tigers top hitting prospect Nick Castellanos in the starting lineup in right field for Double-A Erie in the SeaWolves’ first game out of the All-Star break tonight in Binghamton. Avisail Garcia, who had been playing in right, is starting in center field.

It will be Castellanos’ first outfield start since he was a freshman in high school, and it comes four days after he told us at the All-Star Futures Game that he has been taking fly balls in left field. The way he sounded Sunday, before winning Futures Game MVP honors, he did not sound like he was expecting to be moving immediately.

“I really don’t know,” he said Sunday. “I know the organization still loves me as a third baseman. They see me there in the future. They’ve also mentioned to get an outfielder’s glove, nothing too serious so far.”

Tigers president/general manager Dave Dombrowski told the Detroit News’ Lynn Henning that they’ve had “a lot of discussions” on Castellanos and the outfield.

“It’s a situation with Miguel [Cabrera] at third base, and with him being very comfortable there and doing a good job, there’s the potential [Castellanos] could get some playing time in the outfield,” Dombrowski told the News for the story, which appeared last night.

One look at the long-term picture with the Tigers, and it was a matter of when more than if.

“We thought the move was inevitable. After discussing with our player development people, we all thought this was a good time to get him out there,” Tigers assistant general manager Al Avila told MLB.com in an email Thursday afternoon.

What does this mean for Castellanos’ immediate future? That’s hard to tell right now. Look at the talent level around other organizations, and Castellanos is more valuable to other teams as a third baseman than an outfielder. So it’s hard to look at this quick of a move as a showcase for other teams. Even with teams that have great third-base prospects, such as the Cubs, it’s unlikely a Castellanos audition in the outfield would be the key to a deal.

Another possibility would be that now that the news is out, make the move. See how he handles it, and get the transition moving so that he’s further along. That doesn’t necessarily mean they’re looking at Castellanos as a possible call-up later this year. But then, when you look at their track record (Cameron Maybin’s sudden call-up in mid-August 2007 comes to mind) and then look at this move, it’s hard to rule it out.

Take note, too, that Castellanos is starting in right field. He had been taking fly balls in left.