West Michigan's Nick Castellanos
sat on a thinly cushioned green folding chair in front of a maple-veneer locker in the visitors' clubhouse at South Bend's Coveleski Stadium. The Detroit Tigers' 2010 supplemental first-round pick sported an oversized pair of headphones as he chilled to music while waiting out a rain delay.
"We haven't gotten a road game in yet," Castellanos sighed. "Our first series got canceled in Lansing. Our first two games in South Bend got canceled. It is what it is. You can't control Mother Nature."
Cold and rainy weather has thrown a curve to the start of Castellanos' first full professional season. The Whitecaps third baseman only had three hits in his first 21 at-bats, but he has heated up in his last three games, smacking four hits in 12 plate appearances. But dealing with the cold is a new challenge for the Florida native.
"You try not to think about being cold, because that slows you down," Castellanos said. "My winters in Miami, the lowest is 55 degrees, and that's a very cold night. Playing in 30-degree weather with the wind and the rain is tough, but it's something I have to learn to deal with, especially playing in Detroit."
A 6-foot-4, 200-pound right-handed batter who turned 19 in March, Castellanos broke the University of Miami's baseball heart when he signed at the last minute with the Tigers. The 44th overall pick last year signed for $3.45 million, the largest bonus for a player selected outside the first round.
Castellanos led Archbishop McCarthy High School to the Florida Class 4-A state championship last season. He batted .542 with six homers and 46 RBIs and dazzled scouts at Wrigley Field in the Under Armour All-America Game. Castellanos sent the ball flying over Wrigley's fabled ivy-covered walls to win the Home Run Derby, then went 4-for-4 in the game, slugging four doubles against some of the nation's best prep arms.
Castellanos said his high school coach, former White Sox and Marlins star Alex Fernandez, has been a tremendous influence and is helping him make the transition to pro ball.
"He is a very good family friend," Castellanos said. "Anytime you can talk to a big leaguer, somebody who has that much knowledge of the game, it helps. He's been a guiding influence in terms of what to expect, how you handle yourself on and off the field. Being in professional baseball is a lifestyle, not just something you do. There's a culture on the field and off. I'm getting used to living in hotels, being away from home. I never had that transition to college. I signed my name on paper, and I'm gone."
Another challenge for Castellanos is the transition from shortstop to third base, but he said he's embracing the switch.
"It's still an ongoing process," Castellanos said. "It's still kind of new to me, but I'm getting used to it. You don't have as much time to pick your hop on a ground ball, but I'm going to be fine."
West Michigan manager Ernie Young is impressed with Castellanos' potential.
"Anytime you draft a kid that high, you're projecting him to be a Major League player," Young said. "That's what the Tigers are looking for. He has the size and he has the potential to hit for power, but it's all going to be based on how fast he develops into a Major League-type player."
Hot time: Bowling Green picked up its first home series win since last June when it rallied to defeat Lake County, 7-6, in Sunday's series finale. Phil Wunderlich capped the scoring with a two-run homer in the seventh inning for the Hot Rods, who finished the home stand 4-3. It was also their first winning record for a home stand longer than three games since August 2009, when the Hot Rods were 5-3 against Greenville and Hickory as a member of the South Atlantic League.
Interim duty: Jesus Azuaje served as the interim manager for the Cedar Rapids Kernels to start the season so Eddie Menchaca could be with his family. Menchaca's wife gave birth to a son in Phoenix.
Walk this way: Wisconsin's Nick Shaw was 0-for-0 against Cedar Rapids last Thursday, but reached base five times. Shaw walked five times in the game in five at-bats. The Timber Rattlers infielder set an NCAA Div. II record at Barry University with 208 career walks.