Regardless of what position the Albuquerque Isotopes stick Alex Castellanos, the one thing that remains unchanging is his ability at the plate.
Castellanos' newest landing spot: third base.
Through 11 games at the hot corner the slugger has collected at least one base knock in each contest, while also tying for the league-lead in extra-base hits (10). His .431 average during that span shows that while Castellanos' view on the diamond may have changed, his approach at the plate remains the same.
"I'm just feeling good at the plate," said Castellanos when asked if there's a connection between his position change and 12-game hitting streak. "It's just a position (at third) you know, so not really a (link) with the two."
His move to third seems based on an organizational farm system that has been seeking more depth at the infielder corners. As the Dodgers top infield prospect and 10th best player overall in their system, Castellanos is likely on the fast track to a starting role somewhere in the Los Angeles infield, seemingly at third base.
To help expedite the transition to the hot corner, Castellanos has been working daily with Dodgers Infield Coordinator Jody Reed. Most days, before batting practice, Reed works with the infielder on taking grounders from the left side of the field, the longer throw from third and the mechanics of playing at the corner. Their focus, says Castellanos, is squeezing in as many repetitions as possible.
"Just reps after reps to make sure I feel comfortable over there," said Castellanos. "I've played there before, so I'm sure I can do it again."
The 2008 10th-round Draft pick originally spent most of his early career at third base. Before returning to the hot corner for this season's stretch run, he also saw action at first in 2009, the outfield from 2010-11 and started this year's campaign as the primary second baseman for Albuquerque. With his experience across the diamond, Castellanos said that although infield positions aren't that different in his mind, he's still adjusting to a few minor disparities in the flow of the game.
"Everything's quicker," said Castellanos. "The ball comes at you quicker, I have to be in the right position to make the play faster."
That's not to say the infielder can't handle the action at third. With his soft hands and range to make plays, he said fielding at third is just reacting the same way he would at any other position. The issue, however, involves throwing to first from the other side of the infield. Castellanos admitted he doesn't necessarily have a problem with the distance of the long toss, just the fact that it's just a "different" type of throw.
"The hardest part has been the throw," said Castellanos. "I got a good arm and can get it across the diamond, but the throw is different. You have to be more accurate."
Overall, the 'Topes infielder has continued to adapt at third. Castellanos has experienced a few growing pains with the transition, two errors in 24 chances, but has also shown flashes of highlight-reel material with a diving snag on Thursday that robbed Las Vegas of a base hit.
"On a scale of 1-10 (comfort level), I probably feel at a 7.5 right now," said Castellanos. "I just need to get more playing time to settle in, but I'm sure I can play there."