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IL notes: Castellanos' whole new world04/29/2013 6:00 AM ET
By John Wagner / Special to MLB.com
Believe it or not, there still are questions surrounding Toledo outfielder Nick Castellanos.
The questions have nothing to do with the bat that has made him the top Tigers prospect, according to MLB.com. They deal mostly with his move from the infield to the outfield, which took place last season.
Castellanos said that position switch was one of the biggest challenges he has had to face since Detroit selected him with its top pick, a supplemental first-round choice, in 2010.
"It's not like I used to play outfield when I was little -- when I played my first game in the outfield for [Double-A] Erie, it was the first time I had ever played in the outfield in my life," he said. "I took an infield glove with me out there because I didn't feel comfortable using the big glove. I had never used one before.
Toledo manager Phil Nevin said he likes the work the 21-year-old has put into learning his new defensive position.
"It's a work in progress," said Nevin, who also moved from third base to the outfield during his pro career. "It's a different first-step reaction from third base to the outfield.
"When I made the move, the hardest thing for me was remaining focused, because you can get lost out there. You can go out there and find yourself counting grass blades. But he's doing fine with that part."
For Castellanos, his first taste of Triple-A pitching also has resulted in quick improvement.
The South Florida native started out slowly, striking out in six of his first eight at-bats. But in his last six games, the 6-foot-4, 210-pound Castellanos has gone 9-for-24 (.375) with three doubles and three home runs.
"He's an aggressive hitter," Nevin said. "He attacks right away. He hits the breaking ball well when pitchers throw it in the zone, and he has laid off when pitchers throw it out of the zone.
"He's gotten a lot better at not swinging at the balls outside the zone. I think his [strike-zone] discipline has been good."
After his slow start at the plate, Castellanos now has 20 whiffs in 95 at-bats spread over 24 games and also has drawn nine walks.
Though some may fret that Castellanos is "only" hitting .263 with three home runs in 10 RBIs so far, Nevin certainly isn't worried.
"He's just 20 years old," Nevin said. "He's still growing. He's going to be a big, physical guy. You may not see his power right now, but in my opinion, he's going to be a home run hitter in the big leagues.
"He's going to hit for average, but he's going to hit home runs too."
Strike force: The Durham pitching staff leads the circuit in strikeouts with 226 in 23 games, and it's easy to see why. The Bulls have four of the top five pitchers in the league strikeouts rankings. Right-handed pitcher Jake Odorizzi is second after fanning 30, while left-handed pitcher Alex Torres ranks third with 29 whiffs, one more than right-handed pitcher Chris Archer in fourth and two more than right-handed pitcher Alex Colome in fifth.
Not so fast: Charlotte infielder Carlos Sanchez won the Carolina League batting title with a .315 mark last season, then hit a scorching .370 in 30 games for Double-A Birmingham. But the hits aren't coming as easily this season for the White Sox infield prospect, who has batted just .211 in his first 19 games. Sanchez, who has split time between shortstop (eight games) and second base (11 games), has just three doubles among his 15 hits but has drawn 11 walks.
He said it: "I'm not a strikeout pitcher. I don't have overpowering stuff. I just try to make the guys put it into play. And we have an incredible defense that makes all [the plays], so it's easier on me." -- Chiefs left-handed pitcher Daniel Rosenbaum to The (Syracuse) Post-Standard. In his first four starts this season, Rosenbaum is 2-1 with a 1.14 ERA. He has struck out just five in 23 2/3 innings, but has given up just 16 hits and eight walks that have resulted in just three runs.
He said it, Part 2: "Until you get older, you really don't start to realize the opportunities you have. Especially when you're at the end, and you know you're not going to be able to play forever. I've just found a way to really appreciate putting the uniform on, and to be thankful for the people who've given you that opportunity, too." -- RailRiders right-handed pitcher Chris Bootcheck to the Scranton Times-Tribune. Bootcheck, who in March was scrambling to find a job, was 2-0 with a 0.50 ERA in his first three starts for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.