Taking a look at Alex Castellanos, the prospect set to replace Matt Kemp

As mentioned yesterday, Matt Kemp injured his hamstring and according to the Dodgers official Twitter, he will be headed to the disabled list. In a related move, Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus confirmed that the Dodgers would be calling up prospect Alex Castellanos from AAA Albuquerque to take his place on the roster.

Because I’m slow and busy, I haven’t actually had the chance to write my Prospect Profile on him yet. However, I will say that I think he’s well worth taking a chance on.

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At 25, there isn’t a lot of time left for him to destroy minor league baseball, and while it’s Albuquerque, Castellanos is indeed destroying the ball, putting up a .361/.465/.711/1.176 line, albeit with a .441 BABIP. The average would have obviously normalized with time, but you don’t need to be a scout to see that line and tell he was hitting the cover off the ball.

Personally though, the most promising sign was the change in patience this year. My biggest concern with Castellanos coming into the year was his lack of plate discipline, as the combination of a mediocre walk rate and a high strikeout rate looked like an MLB disaster-in-waiting. So far in 2012, he has changed his walk rate from the 6-7 percent range all the way up to 12.9%. Furthermore, his strikeout rate has come down from 23-24 percent to 20.8%. That potential change in skill profile gives me a lot more hope for his chances at MLB success than before, because I felt his hit tool was good and he had a bit of pop, and what made me skeptical was the belief that his discipline problems in the minors would get exacerbated when facing MLB competition.

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With a potential skill change in the works, he now looks far more promising as a potential regular, and if he can simply hold his own defensively at second base (I didn’t like what I saw there last season though), it won’t take that much bat to be valuable either.

While nobody actually expects him to replace Matt Kemp in production, he is now one of the few players on the Dodgers roster with upside and who isn’t due for regression, and that provides hope that perhaps he can help the team ride out the injuries to key players.

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