The Red Sox first base prospect who gets all these attention these days is undoubtedly Triston Casas, who some believe is the top overall prospect in Boston’s farm system.
That being said, there is another minor-league first baseman within the Sox’ ranks who is coming off an impressive season at the plate in 2021 and his name is Pedro Castellanos.
Castellanos, 24, was originally signed by the Red Sox as an international free agent out of Venezuela in 2016. He received a mere $5,000 signing bonus and debuted in the Dominican Summer League that same year.
After making it as far as High-A in 2019, Castellanos had his 2020 season taken out from under him as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. There was no invite to the alternate training site to be had that summer, though he was able to make up for some lost time by taking part in fall instructs.
On the heels of that limited development window, Castellanos reported to minor-league camp the following spring and opened the 2021 campaign with Double-A Portland.
As a member of the Sea Dogs, Castellanos missed some time due to two separate stints on the injured list in June and August-September. When healthy, though, the right-handed hitter batted a stout .289/.364/.471 (128 wRC+) to go along with 14 doubles, three triples, a career-high 13 home runs, 44 RBIs, 66 runs scored, two stolen bases, 32 walks, and 63 strikeouts over 87 games and 325 plate appearances.
Upon returning from the injured list for a second time in September, Castellanos closed out his year by slashing a red-hot .375/.432/.688 (194 wRC+) over his final eight games and 37 trips to the plate.
Against left-handed pitchers, Castellanos posted an OPS of .885. Against right-handed pitchers, that OPS only dropped down to a still-respectable .822.
Among hitters in the Double-A Northeast who accrued at least 350 plate appearances last year, Castellanos ranked sixth in runs scored, fifth in batting average, sixth in on-base percentage, ninth in OPS (.835), ninth in wRC+, and fifth in strikeout rate (17.1%), per FanGraphs.
Defensively, Castellanos has primarily been a first baseman throughout his pro career. With Casas needing playing time in Portland last season, though, Castellanos was moved off first base entirely.
Instead, the 6-foot-3, 244 pounder logged 509 2/3 innings in left field, eight innings in center field, and 154 innings in right field with the Sea Dogs. He recorded a total of seven outfield assists, helped turn two double plays, and registered three errors between those three spots.
Earlier in the off-season, Castellanos headed back to his home country to suit up for Cardenales de Lara of the Venezuelan Winter League. While seeing playing time at first base and both corner outfield positions, the Carora native hit .313/.361/.550 with eight homers and 21 RBIs across 38 games and 144 plate appearances.
Coming into the 2022 season, Castellanos is not regarded by publications such as Baseball America or The Athletics as one of the top prospects in the Red Sox farm system. He is, however, ranked by SoxProspects.com as the No. 57 prospect in the organization.
Per his SoxProspects.com scouting report, Castellanos is limited by his defensive profile. It states that he is a “potential average defender at first base and below-average defender in the outfield” who has “fringe to average arm strength.”
While his defense may be weighing him down at the moment, Castellanos is still relatively young and has hit at every level he’s played at in the minors — as evidenced by his .300 career batting average.
Despite being Rule 5 eligible this winter, Castellanos — who turns 25 in December — is projected by SoxProspects.com to begin the 2022 season with Portland, though an early promotion to Triple-A Worcester certainly seams plausible.
2022 marks Castellanos’ seventh year with the Red Sox organization, so he is slated to become a minor-league free agent in November if he is not retained by the club in some capacity beforehand.
(Picture of Pedro Castellanos: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)