CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Nick Castellanos -- aka Keith Law’s 38th-best prospect in baseball -- has spent all but two months of his three-year minor league career playing third base.
But he was penciled in to spend all nine innings of the Tigers’ spring training game Monday playing left field. And that won’t be changing any time soon, says his manager.
“He will not play third base this spring,” said Jim Leyland. “My orders from the organization are, he’s now a left fielder.”
Now you might be aware that Leyland’s third baseman, some guy named Cabrera (Miguel, we think it is), will be exiting any day now to play in the World Baseball Classic. But even that won’t buy Castellanos, ranked as the top prospect in the Tigers' system, any time at third, Leyland said.
“I’m not going to tinker with that,” the manager said. “You get your marching orders, that’s what you do. And I agree with that. I agree with that 100 percent. Why bring him back into third and put a thought in his mind, 'Well, maybe I’m going to move back into third?' I think they’re doing the right thing.”
Theoretically, Castellanos -- who hit .320/.365/.451 between Double-A and Triple-A last season -- is in the Tigers’ mix this spring to win a big league job as a right-handed-hitting complement to Andy Dirks in left field. But in reality, he’s likely to head for Toledo to work toward becoming an everyday outfielder in the big leagues.
Asked if the Tigers now believe Castellanos’ future is in left field, Leyland replied, with a sly smile: “That’s what I’m hearing.”
“I’ll tell you one thing,” the manager quipped. “If he can beat out the third baseman we have, we’ve really got something.
“But he’s a big leaguer in the making,” Jim Leyland said. “I’ll say that.”