Rodolfo Castro Shows A Mature Approach

Second baseman Rodolfo Castro may have been a surprising addition to the Pirates’ 40-man roster, judged only on his 2019 statistics.

Castro hit .243/.288/.391 in 57 games for high Class A Bradenton, seeing a drop in his power numbers after a midseason promotion from low Class A Greensboro.

The Pirates opted to shield Castro from the Rule 5 draft because they see him as a switch-hitter with raw power from both sides of the plate, some speed and the ability to play three infield positions.

That has been the report on Castro for years. The difference now is that the 21-year-old took a big step forward in 2020, despite the lost minor league season.

“We saw someone who we felt really matured a lot this year,” Pirates general manager Ben Cherington said. “We felt he was one of our hardest workers in Altoona . . .

“There’s still improvement to be made, and he knows that, but adding up all of those attributes, we decided that he was someone we were not willing to take the risk of losing.”

Castro may have matured, but he will require live pitching in order to reach his potential. His biggest issue in the minors so far has been making contact, with a 25% strikeout rate in the lower levels, along with poor contact skills that have led to low averages outside of Rookie ball.

“He is someone who is going to benefit from playing games,” Cherington said. “Some of his skill development requires him seeing a lot of pitching. He is a player who needs to play games.”

The Pirates originally signed Castro as an international free agent out of the Dominican Republic in October 2015. He was seen as a glove-first player at the time, but the emergence of power in his game has raised the profile of his bat.

The eventual return of minor league games will give Castro a chance to see how far he has come the past year with his plate patience.


— The Pirates also added righthander Max Kranick to the 40-man roster, protecting him from the Rule 5 draft in the process. Kranick has seen his velocity tick up to the 96-97 mph range in the last year, while working with former major league closer Joel Hanrahan in Altoona this year on tunneling his curveball to make it look like a fastball out of his hand.

— The Pirates outrighted first baseman Will Craig to Triple-A Indianapolis at the start of December. Craig, the first-round pick in 2016, didn’t get much of an opportunity in his brief appearance in the majors. He’s behind Josh Bell and Colin Moran for the big league first base job, with Mason Martin coming up from the lower levels with more upside. The 2021 season in Indianapolis could be the last chance for Craig to force himself into the big league picture with the Pirates.

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