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 Tigers minor league report: Castellanos, Garcia blossoming at Lakeland

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PostSubject: Tigers minor league report: Castellanos, Garcia blossoming at Lakeland   Mon May 21, 2012 8:19 pm



It might not be too long before Tigers third-base prospect Nick
Castellanos' autograph is a hot commodity among fans in Detroit.
(Elizabeth Conley/Detroit News)




From The Detroit News: http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20120520/SPORTS0104/205200330#ixzz1vY6obvV9

May 20, 2012 at 9:22 pm
Tigers minor league report: Castellanos, Garcia blossoming at Lakeland

By Lynn Henning
The Detroit News


You don't want to over-promise and under-deliver. More important, because you can't afford to let that fragile creature known as a big-league prospect feel too good too early, it's better to talk softly about your farmhands, even the pick of the litters.

So it's sometimes better to let others speak. Opposing scouts, for example, which are the men Al Avila prefers to quote after he just completed a tour of the Tigers' farm chain, with focus on the fertile Class A teams at Lakeland and West Michigan.

"Several scouts who came by (Lakeland) said it was probably the most prospects in numbers they've seen in a long time on one team," said Avila, the Tigers vice president and assistant general manager who oversees the team's minor-league galaxy. "That's pretty cool. Most of those guys will be in Double A next year — and maybe a couple this year."

The two who could be packing for Double A Erie yet this summer are Lakeland's hottest and most gifted position stars: Nick Castellanos, a 20-year-old third baseman who for nearly two months has been batting .400 and better; and outfielder Avisail Garcia, also 20, and regarded for the past three years as perhaps the best one-man display of across-the-board talent in the Tigers' system.

Castellanos, of course, was the Tigers' top draft pick in 2010 and came with a signing price to match: $3.45 million. He is 6-foot-4, 205 pounds, and a right-handed batter who is expected to reach big-league weight closer to 225.

Garcia is one of the early returns on the Tigers' last-decade foray into Venezuela. He is a 6-foot-4, 240-pound right-handed batter with speed to match his batting skill, muscle, and throwing arm.

Avila caught both acts during his Lakeland swing.

"Castellanos, right now, I would say his bat is far ahead of the glove, and that's really a rarity with players so young," Avila said. "Usually, it's the other way around. He has been really spectacular in how he's able to get almost any pitch he wants and drive it into right-center field.

"He's been a model of consistency — really good, quality at-bats every time. I would say where he needs to improve - and this will happen during the process of natural physical development - is hitting home runs. And that will happen. He does have raw power. But those things tend to happen later. Right now, he's hitting for average, and you can easily see power will come down the road."


Although fans want Castellanos moved to second base as an answer to the Tigers' current lineup soft-spot, it won't happen. Castellanos is too big to play a more nimble position, and too valuable as a third baseman — one of baseball's most vexing positions to find good hitters and defenders — to shift to a corner outfield spot.

"From a defensive perspective, he does have some work to do," Avila said. "I would say ground balls can go by him too easily at times, between third and short where he needs to be a bit more aggressive on those balls. But he's got the hands, he's got the arm, and he's got the ability to be a really good plus-defender if he makes up his mind to do it."

Garcia has been a story since he played at West Michigan and at Lakeland as a 17-year-old in 2009. He struggled last year at Lakeland, mostly with a strike zone he turned into an area code. But he has become more discerning in 2012 and has a .353 on-base percentage to go with his .316 batting average and .465 slugging percentage.

"He's beginning to flourish," Avila said. "You can see the power now. When you look at him, and if you didn't know better, you'd think Miguel Cabrera and Garcia are almost twins. Garcia's body is actually better in that he can run.


"But as far as his approach to hitting to right-center field, he has hit a few Cabrera-like homers to right-center, and not too many right-hand guys can do that.

"The thing about him is that, defensively, he's really good," Avila said. "When I was there (Lakeland), they put him in center field. Some guys (scouts) feel he's fast enough and athletic enough to play center field. He actually looked pretty good out there. What's interesting is that he made up for his mistakes because he could outrun 'em.

"I don't know — my point is, those two guys are legitimate All-Star-type prospects: Will they fulfill potential? That's the million-dollar question. But from an athletic and tools standpoint, they have it. And it's an exciting thing."

lynn.henning@detnews.com

twitter.com/Lynn_Henning

From The Detroit News: http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20120520/SPORTS0104/205200330#ixzz1vY4kkGEZ


“It takes pitching, hitting and defense. Any two can win. All three make you unbeatable.”    
–Joe Garagiola
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