Right before Christmas, when the Colorado Rockies re-signed Yohan Flande and Jason Gurka for the 2016 season, the club also made two other moves: acquiring a minor league catcher for depth, and picking up veteran minor league journeyman outfielder Alex Castellanos. At 29, Castellanos now joins his sixth Major League organization and will most likely spend his fifth year at Triple-A in 2016.
With some experience in the Major Leagues under his belt already, and fresh off a massive offensive season for the New York Mets' Triple-A affiliate in Las Vegas last summer, Castellanos will try to break into the Rockies' crowded — but trade-rumor filled — outfield at some point next summer.
Scouting Alex Castellanos
Castellanos, 29, attended high school in Miami and was drafted out of Belmont Abbey College in Belmont, North Carolina, in the 10th round in 2008 by the St. Louis Cardinals. After a little over three seasons in the Cardinals' organization, he was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers on July 31, 2011 as the other player involved in the deal that sent Rafael Furcal (and cash) to St. Louis.
Since then, he's spent time — predominantly in Triple-A — with the Dodgers, Padres, Rangers (offseason only before being placed on waivers), and Mets. Over the last several years, too, Los Angeles gave him 43 big league plate appearances over 24 games.
Some applicable stats from his most recent Triple-A work (all in the Pacific Coast League) as well as his numbers from limited Major League action:
|2014||El Paso||SD (AAA)||113||408||360||69||99||25||5||8||42||37||104||.275||.351||.439|
|2015||Las Vegas||NYM (AAA)||79||312||280||58||88||32||2||16||56||24||73||.314||.381||.614|
Castellanos also played six games in 2015 with Yomiuri of the Japanese Central League, slashing .100/.182/.150 in 22 plate appearances. Aside from the Venezuelan Winter League, Japan was his first full-season experience away from big league affiliates across his career. As a Triple-A hitter over his career, Castellanos has slashed .291/.374/.521 with 60 home runs and 96 doubles in 391 games.
Of course, Castellanos had a monster 2015 with the Las Vegas 51's:
The right-handed slugger mashed 32 doubles and 16 home runs in half a season with the Mets' Triple-A affiliate in Sin City before being granted his release in mid-July to pursue the opportunity in Japan. Castellanos has good memories in Albuquerque, too; he was named a Pacific Coast League All-Star in both 2012 and 2013 as a member of the Isotopes when they were an affiliate of the Dodgers.
Castellanos' best comp on the Rockies
As you probably guessed by the angle of the title of this post, I'm interested in whether Castellanos is the 2016 version of Roger Bernadina. Of course, the two aren't perfectly similar — Bernadina has considerably more big league experience than Castellanos — but there's something to be said about the Rockies acquiring one experienced minor league veteran outfielder every year as depth in case of emergency in Denver.
Bernadina was never used as that big league depth piece in 2015, but he did fill up the stat line in Albuquerque: 18 doubles, 15 home runs, 58 walks, 20 stolen bases, and a .276/.383/.466 slash line across 373 at-bats over 119 games for the 'Topes. If there's two things Castellanos has (or, hasn't) done, it's been exactly that, too: fill the Triple-A stat line while unfortunately remaining unable to break through in the big leagues in any meaningful way. Call him a AAAA player or whatever, but Castellanos has been one of the better outfielders to never stick at the top level over the past three or four seasons.
What to expect in 2016
Castellanos was probably wise to sign with the Rockies since (a) he has good vibes playing in Albuquerque based on his recent history, and more importantly (b) Colorado will most likely move at least one Major League outfielder in a trade this winter (or during the season). Then, it'd stand that a Triple-A option like Castellanos would stand to benefit from a call-up after a trade, depending on the moving parts involved.
Whatever the case, Castellanos' big league future in the short-term is as dependent on Carlos Gonzalez, Charlie Blackmon, and Corey Dickerson as it is on Castellanos hitting the ball in Albuquerque. I know, these minor league depth moves don't move the needle and if Castellanos is anything like Bernadina, we won't see him for even a nanosecond in Denver, but based on the outfielder's recent PCL track record and overall career, this represents a very nice Triple-A depth signing by the Rockies.