Tigers send down Castellanos, seven others

No matter how well Tigers top prospect Nick Castellanos hit in camp, he was headed to Triple-A Toledo. The way he hit, though, he shouldn’t be there for long.

The expected move came Tuesday, with Castellanos as one of eight cuts from the Tigers’ spring roster. As a non-roster invitee, he was sent to minor-league camp along with reliever Trevor Bell, infielder Argenis Diaz and outfielder Tyler Collins.

Among those on the 40-man roster, second base prospect Hernan Perez was optioned to Double-A Erie. Catcher Bryan Holaday, right-hander Jose Ortega and left-hander Duane Below were optioned to Toledo. The moves trim the Tigers camp roster to 37 players with 13 days left until they open the season at Minnesota.

None of the moves was a surprise — not even Castellanos, despite his spring tear. The 21-year-old went 9-for-25 with two doubles, a home run and six RBIs this spring, his first with the big-league club. However, it would’ve taken an incredible set of circumstance to turn that into a spot on Opening Day roster.

“I did well, and they told me I made a good impression,” Castellanos said Tuesday morning on his way out.

Though Castellanos came in with an opportunity to compete for a Major League job, Tigers president/general manager Dave Dombrowski made it clear before camp that they wouldn’t take Castellanos or fellow outfield prospect Avisail Garcia north with them just to serve as a bench player. They’d have to get enough playing time to justify the move and not hinder their development.

That was a particular concern for Castellanos, who converted from third base to right field last summer and then shifted over to left in the fall. With Andy Dirks ticketed for the bulk of the playing time in left, and the Tigers’ need becoming more clear as a right-handed hitter to mix in with Dirks rather than platoon, the numbers didn’t fit.

“I was realistic about it, just knowing this is an incredibly difficult team to make, just because the amount of good players on it,” Castellanos said. “Sure, just with me performing well and everything, maybe they would reconsider. But still, I thought it was a long shot regardless.”

One of the instructions the Tigers gave Castellanos, he said, was that they want him to feel as comfortable in the outfield as he does in the batters box. He’ll serve as the regular left fielder with the Mud Hens as he begins his third professional season at age 21.

The Tigers have turned to Toledo early in the season for outfield help in three of the past five seasons. Matt Joyce got the call just a month into the 2008 season, while Brennan Boesch turned a torrid spring into a shot at the Majors by the end of April in 2010 as an injury replacement. Castellanos has put himself in a position to do the same.

One level below him will be Collins, who made a similarly strong impression in his first Major League camp. The 22-year-old went 10-for-29 with two doubles, two triples, a home run and five RBIs.

Of the pitchers, Below came to camp with the best chance at making the 25-man roster, having opened last season in Detroit. The Tigers have a need for both a long reliever and a second left-hander, and Below fits the profile for both.

However, the 27-year-old had by far his worst spring of his three seasons in Major League camp, allowing 11 runs on 14 hits in just eight innings. He’ll most likely rejoin the rotation at Toledo for a third season.

11 Comments

I hope Below can figure it out in Toledo.

Didn’t we have forty-five or forty-six play for Detroit last year?? Everyone is going North now. Some to Detroit. Some to Toledo. Some to Erie. Go and play well!!!

Have a feeling Holaday will replace Pena at some point this season.
Castellanos will be up too. Hopefully theinevitable injuries in our outfield are minor and do NOT include Austin Jackson.
Below is where he belongs. It’s not enough to simply throw with your left arm. He needs to develop a pitch with a twist.
Talk now of Smyly going to the pen. Where does that leave Downs? Downs has not only earned a spot he is very useful in that pen. He actually may be becoming a good big league pitcher and not just a roster fill-in.

Also, Below really didn’t make the club last year out of ST, Ortega did. When Ortega got hurt, Below came to Detroit. I see Ortega as closer to Detroit than Below, who slowbyrne acurately pointed out needs to throw off speed pitches for strikes

You mean Marte. He was injured in the exhibition game at Toledo.

being a lefty, Below still may get several more chances to establish himself at MLB level. had a great opportunity last season, now a steady MLB job seems more distant, elusive.

what’s the take on Castellanos adjustment to OF? arm, routes, judgment?

He made a really good throw to nail a guy at the plate on Sunday. Off the bat it did not look like he had a chance at getting the guy at the plate.

Holaday is an interesting player. was he considered the best defensive C in camp?

I believe Jim price is pretty keen on him as to his defense. If he can start showing some signs of developing some comfort at the plate (not just behind it) he will be a really nice complement to Avila.

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