Lakeland's Castellanos off to fast start

After 4-for-5 night, Tigers prospect leads FSL with .413 average

By Sam Dykstra / Special to | April 27, 2012 7:52 PM ET

Last April 27, Nick Castellanos went 0-for-3 with three strikeouts for Class A West Michigan to continue an early-season slump that dropped his average to .186.

The Tigers' No. 2 prospect produced anything but a repeat performance on Friday.

Castellanos went 4-for-5 with two doubles, two RBIs and a run scored to lead Class A Advanced Lakeland to a 6-4 triumph over the Dunedin Blue Jays.

The four hits raised his average to .413 as he leapfrogged teammate Avisail Garcia -- Detroit's No. 8 prospect -- for the Florida State League lead. He also tops the 12-team circuit with eight doubles, a .560 slugging percentage and 1.012 OPS.'s No. 50 overall prospect doubled in the seventh inning and came around to score the eventual winning run on a double by Tyler Collins. He provided some insurance with an RBI single in the eighth.

When comparing last year's disastrous April to this season's stellar start, Castellanos said he's noticed some differences, not just in the results but in his approach.

"It's all about just being comfortable, being more confident," he said. "I had some trouble with that last year with it being my first professional year. I was letting stuff get to me personally. So now, I'm just trying to stay within myself, relax and enjoy my teammates. If you just try to win games, the stats like these will follow."

Even though he was off to a slow start last spring, Castellanos noted his offseason focus was not on getting off to a quicker start. After all, he finished with a solid .312 average and ended up leading the Midwest League with 158 hits. Instead, he turned his attention to his defense, which had been a cause for concern in his rookie campaign.

"To be honest, I didn't mess with my hitting at all," Castellanos said. "Detroit stressed that I should be working on my defense, so I tried to work on my foot speed and stuff like that. ... It's going really well. I'm happy with what I've been doing at third. I feel more in control and smarter in certain situations than I used to."

Still, the fact remains that the 2010 first-round Draft pick is turning heads based on his offensive numbers and not necessarily his defensive improvements. But if he wants to stay atop the FSL charts, Castellanos knows he'll have to focus on the present and not the past.

"No matter if I have a good or bad day, I have to forget about it," he said. "Whether I'm 0-for-4 or 4-for-4, I'm going to wake up the next day, put it all behind me and just continue to go through my routine."

After going 1-for-4 and 1-for-3 respectively, Garcia (.384) and Collins (.356) find themselves in second and third place in the league batting race behind Castellanos. Victor Larez (1-0) struck out six and allowed two hits over four innings of scoreless relief for the win.

Dunedin's Jake Marisnick, Blue Jays' No. 3 prospect, went 3-for-4 with a double, an RBI and two runs scored.

Sam Dykstra is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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