Doubles turn into homeruns, or so the old baseball adage goes, and assuming the two-baggers aren’t a result of a friendly environment – Fenway Park, for example – this holds true a lot of the time. Not in every instance, mind you, but a lot of the time.
Other factors come into play, like players age, level of competition, fly ball and line drive rates, familiarity with said level of competition, etc. But in evaluating future power performance in minor league hitters, doubles are always a significant piece to the puzzle.
Enter Tigers top prospect Nick Castellanos.
Castellanos is among the best prospects in the game (I ranked him #12 prior to the year). And after a sluggish April (.259/.311/.444), he’s pushed his triple-slash line to a more than respectable .277/.349/.445 with 34 doubles, 15 homeruns, and an 87-to-53 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Already with an above-average or better hit tool, Castellanos’ power is finally starting to develop.
After posting Isolated Power totals of .124, .149, and .118 between his stops in Class A, High-A and AA, Castellanos has seen a noticeable uptick this year; totaling a career best .168 – a solid-average mark. And, yes, he’s already knocked a career-high 15 dingers, but he’s also maintained his doubles power (34 thus far) while cutting his groundball rate by a few percentage points.
Split between high Class A and AA last season, Castellanos had a line-drive rate of 24.0%, a groundball rate of 42.3%, and an outfield fly ball rate of 30.9%. This season those totals have changed: 21.9% (LD), 37.4% (GB), and 36.7% (OFB). Simply put, he’s elevating the ball on a more regular basis.
Castellanos’ power is undergoing a transition, from gap-to-gap to over the fence. And while he doesn’t project as a true homerun hitter, he should develop into an annual 20- to 25-homerun threat while hitting for a high average and on-base percentage.
Photo of Nick Castellanos Courtesy of Matt Burton/MiLB.com