Five home runs in 34 at bats. That is a pretty impressive pace. It is obviously not realistic to expect that pace to continue for Jason Castro. But how many home runs can we expect from Castro this season?
For starters, Castro is finally healthy which goes a long way towards explaining his breakout spring performance. Just as he will not hit a home run every 6.8 at bats, he also will not hit for a .382 batting average. Regardless, it seems that Castro will finally begin to realize his potential as he turns 26 in June of this season.
When looking at young hitters and attempting to project their power, a good place to start is their line drive rate. Last season Castro had a line drive rate of 27.5% which was up from 22.2% in 2010 (remember he did not play in 2011). Unfortunately his fly ball rate also decreased from 36.6% to 30% in that same time.
The problem with projecting Castro, is that we are dealing with three small sample sizes (2010, 2012, and this year’s Spring Training). Castro was drafted in the first round with great expectations, and while he is not a typical power hitter, it does appear that he will have some power. He is not a natural home run hitter, overall Castro is a big guy and a good hitter. At 26 he is still developing as a hitter and the fact that he is healthy for the first time in his major league career is a positive.
Verdict – Under
As much as I would like to believe that Castro’s power is real, he is not a true power hitter. I think he could very well be one of the more pleasant surprises for the Astros this season, but Castro is more of a line drive hitter than anything else. While he is starting the season towards the bottom of the lineup, I would not be surprised to see Castro move up towards the middle of the order by the end of the season. I don’t think that Castro will miss this target by much, but 15 might be pushing it.
What do you think?