Name: Leandro Castro
DOB: 6/15/89 (21 as of April 1, 2011)
Weight: 195 lbs
Acquired: amateur free agent, 2007 (undisclosed bonus)
Pre Draft Report: Leandro Castro was signed out of La Romana in the Dominican Republic in March 2007. Pre-signing scouting reports are almost non-existent (or at least out of the range of a very experienced Googler), but the earliest mentions found are not different from current reports, noting that he’s very athletic, very aggressive, and likes to swing.
Career Synopsis: Castro made his pro debut in the Dominican Summer League in ’07 at age 17. He put up a .278/.362/.417 slash line and stole 24 bases in 33 attempts. He also had a promising 39/26 K/BB ratio over 262 plate appearances.
In 2008, Castro stayed at extended spring training and made his stateside debut in the Gulf Coast League. His line fell off a bit to .298/.317/.422, the result of losing all ability to take a walk, registering just 4 BBs in 168 PAs. His K rate stayed just about level at 14%, but his SB (9 in 13 attempts) fell off (mostly the result of not getting on base as often). He did rip LHP at a .364 clip and participated in the FIL after the season.
The Phillies pushed Castro to Lakewood in 2009 (he started the season at age 19), and he was overmatched at that level, putting up a .442 OPS in 74 plate appearances before being sent back to extended spring training. When the NYPL started, Castro was sent to Williamsport and established himself as a prospect, compiling a .316/.351/.512 line. Although his K rate rose up near 18% and his walk rate fell below 5%, he finished first in the league in hits and total bases, tied for second in RBI and runs scored, fourth in average and tied for fifth in HRs and 2Bs. He was a midseason all-star and Baseball America named him the 16th best prospect in the NYPL. BA’s report on him noted plus bat speed with some pull power and the ability to bunt or shorten his swing with two strikes to go the other way. Following the season, Castro again participated in the FIL.
Castro headed into 2010 having arrived on many prospect lists, including a #25 ranking by Baseball America, #15 by Baseball Prospectus, and #13 by John Sickels. The season was a slight step backwards for Castro, as his slash line fell across the board to career lows in all three numbers (.257/.305/.406). He stole 22 bases in 35 attempts (although the low SB% was symptomatic of nearly everyone in Lakewood last year). His K and walk rates were basically in line with his career norms. On the whole, his production was slightly above normal for the SAL.
Heading into 2011, Castro was ranked 19th on John Sickels’ list and 27th on BA’s list.
Scouting Report: Below is an assessment of Castro’s raw tools, rated on the traditional 20-80 scouting scale. The grades are my estimation based on what I’ve read and those I’ve talked to. The second number is a future projection, the first number is the current assessment:
Hit For Average: 50/50
Hit For Power: 40/50
Throwing Arm: 45/45
Summary: Castro is an aggressive hitter who likes to swing. He’s got a little power, a little speed, and he’s a solid defensive LF who can play CF. None of his tools are plus, but he should rack up plenty of doubles and be close to average across the board, with a few ticks above average speed.
Upside: Castro has become one of the more difficult prospects to gauge. He’s a small guy, built more like a centerfielder than a corner guy. He seems to do a lot of things pretty well, but with caveats: he’s got plus bat speed, but bad mechanics; he can hit for power, but not enough to stick at a corner; he has plus speed, but is overaggressive with it in the field and on the bases. Most importantly, Castro needs a better understanding of the strike zone—his career walk and strikeout rates (6.1% and 16.4%) individually are at the cusp of acceptable, but taken in tandem, show a major area for improvement. He plays a good leftfield and has a very good arm, and by all accounts, he’s about as enthusiastic player as you’ll find. After Lakewood’s season, Chuck Lamar commented that Castro has responded to every challenge they’ve thrown at him and will go as far as his bat takes him. This year, it will take him to Clearwater where he’ll be challenged by the pitching in the FSL. Castro likely profiles as a fourth OF, but needs a good season to stay on that track.