Jason Castro was the 10th overall pick in the 2008 draft out of Stanford and shortly thereafter was denoted as a top prospect in the Astros organization. Castro made his big league debut in 2010 and only managed to hit .205 with 2 HR and 8 RBI in 217 plate appearances. That disappointment was followed up by Castro losing 2011 to injury to return in 2012 to hit .257 with 6 HR and 29 RBI in 295 plate appearances. We all know the story and it has been elaborated on in great detail already.
The issue now is not the past, but the present and more importantly the future. Castro is still only 25 years old and he still has the same tools that made him a first round pick. So can Castro turn it around and become the player the Astros thought they were drafting in 2008?
In order to potentially answer this question, I am going to breakdown Castro using three statistics.
- 2012 Batting Average – .257. Castro is a stereotypical catcher in the fact that he does not have much speed which means that he will not be using his legs to get many hits. In 2010 hit .205 so from that perspective last season was a nice recovery, but in reality it was just his luck normalizing. Castro’s BABIP in 2010 was a very unlucky .250 compared to .309 last season. The common trend between these two seasons is the margin between Castro’s BABIP and actual batting average so it is an accurate projector of Castro’s future major league performance. In the minor leagues there were times when he hit for a higher average but the cause for the drop in average can be pinpointed. At this point, I’m not sure that Castro’s average will really go much higher than this. While he will never be a .300 hitter, there is outside potential for .285 which I’m sure Astros fans would be pleased with. However the more likely ceiling will be around .270 or .275.
- Strikeout Percentage. Quite simply, Castro needs to strikeout less. When he had success in AA and AAA his strikeout percentages were 13.1% and 13.9%. Compare that to his big league levels of 18.9% and 20.7%, and it is easy to see why Castro has struggled. The concern here also is that his strikeout levels were relatively stable throughout the season. This is the one area that is holding Castro back from reaching his potential.
- 2012 Line Drive Rate – 27.5%. With a percentage like that, Castro’s 2012 statistics should have looked better. Castro only hit 6 home runs last season but he did drive in 29 RBI on a bad team. If you double his plate appearances (and therefore his statistics) you would be looking at 12 HR and 58 RBI out of Castro which would not be terrible production. That is due to his propensity for hitting line drives. Castro’s ability to drive in runs is there, so there is some cause for optimism. Also he is only 25 and the magic age for hitters is 27 so it is still possible that as Castro and his power develop, some of those line drives will turn into extra base hits and more home runs leading to more RBI.
So far Castro has not given Astros fans much to be positive about. Without Chris Snyder’s presence the starting catcher’s job is Castro’s to lose so hopefully he will be able to relax and build on last season. If Castro receives an increase in playing time he should prove to be a decent run producer with a slightly optimistic prediction of .265/15/65. At this point that is probably the best case scenario from Castro, but in order for anything to change; he needs to strike out less. I still think there is time for Castro to turn this around especially now that he has major league time under his belt and he goes into Spring Training holding a job and not recovering from an injury. Astros fans could be pleasantly surprised by a full season of Jason Castro in 2013. Do you agree or am I being too optimistic here?