Budding young star Oneil Cruz wasn’t the only Pirates middle infielder to garner attention last summer. Infielder Rodolfo Castro put on a strong second half for the Pirates last season, and was a decent grab for fantasy owners late in the 2022 campaign. But what about Castro’s prospects for 2023? Let’s take a closer look.
Related: 2023 MLB Fantasy: Ranking the Top 10 Second Basemen
A Look at Castro
Pirates infielder Rodolfo Castro didn’t spend all of 2022 in Pittsburgh, but he did make an impact last summer. The 23-year-old infielder turned some heads in his Minor League career, thanks to good raw power. Castro hit 19 home runs in the 2019 MiLB season, and then 15 more two years later.
Castro saw his first Major League action late in 2021, where he hit .198 over 86 at-bats, but did hit five home runs. The young infielder spent most of the first half down in the Minors with Indianapolis (AAA), but did make an impact after the All-Star Break.
With Pittsburgh in the second half, Castro hit .247/.310/.478 with ten home runs, 19 extra base hits, and 23 RBIs. The 23-year-old’s 5.0% HR% ranked in the top 30 in baseball in the second half, and his ten bombs ranked in the top ten among qualified second basemen in fantasy. Not to mention, Castro was one of just three Pirates to hit double digits in home runs after the All-Star Game. SS Oneil Cruz (13) and OF Bryan Reynolds (12) were the other two.
Castro demonstrated good ability to drive the ball with Pittsburgh, and elevate mistakes made by opposing pitchers — this home run from September that he took the other way in Citi Field is proof of that.
The key to Castro’s future success and his fantasy value, though, will be whether he can make enough contact. The young Pirates infielder did get fooled by the breaking and offspeed stuff frequently, although he did demonstrate good discipline in the process. Overall, Castro’s Chase% (27.5%) rate did rank above-average.
2023 Fantasy Outlook
Despite the loud second half of the regular season, it’s hard to be high on Castro — for a few reasons. While Pittsburgh did utilize Castro in the middle of the Pirates lineup for a good chunk of last year, the amount of opportunities he will have to drive in runners will be limited this year.
Second, Castro doesn’t make enough contact to make one feel comfortable. Yes, he does have average to above-average discipline. However, Castro never owned particularly high batting averages in the Minors. Besides precedent from his MiLB days, he did get blown away a good amount of times last year — especially in the lower half of the zone. If pitchers adjust how to attack Castro — and let the 29.7% K% rate he recorded from September 1 onward be a warning sign — we could see more strikeouts and a low batting average.
Despite a somewhat impressive, yet small sample size, be very cautious. Castro could be an interesting player to take a chance in the very late stages, and one to take a gamble on should you feel confident. But, there are plenty of other interesting second basemen to grab ahead of him.