PCL notes: Castellanos comes full circle

Dodgers prospect returns to original position at second base

By Chris Jackson / Special to MLB.com | April 16, 2012 6:34 AM ET

The grand experiment for the Albuquerque Isotopes this season is to take an outfielder, who used to be a second baseman, and turn him back into a second baseman.

It is not as easy as it sounds, but Alex Castellanos is doing his best to make a smooth conversion.

"From when I started to now, I'm almost like 100 percent more comfortable," Castellanos said. "Just getting more reps, getting more games, I feel more comfortable."

The Dodgers acquired Castellanos from the Cardinals in the deal for Major League shortstop Rafael Furcal last July. The 25-year-old welcomed the opportunity to change organizations as well as positions.

"I was in the outfield with St. Louis, and there's a logjam there," Castellanos said. "[The trade] really helped me out."

Castellanos played all over the infield when the Cardinals first drafted him in 2008, but they moved him to the outfield full-time last season.

"We're just trying to re-explore the second base option for him and for us," said Dodgers player development director De Jon Watson. "I think the transition is going fairly well. He plays fast. So we're trying to create that finesse in his game. I think you'll see that progression as we go through the season here. He's putting in the effort, putting in the time."

The most difficult part of the transition for the Dodgers' No. 13 prospect has not been getting to the balls hit his way, but getting the balls to his fellow infielders.

"[It's] just the throws," Castellanos said. "I know it looks easy at second base, but I'm used to throwing from over the top in the outfield. So just getting my arm angle in the same place, knowing that I have more time at second, I don't have to rush my throw, which I tend to do sometimes. I just have to take my time and [not] throw it as hard as I can."

Isotopes manager Lorenzo Bundy said keeping Castellanos on his toes is another key to surviving at second base.

"The biggest thing about second base is you're right in the middle of the action," Bundy said. "In the middle infield, there's pretty much not a ball hit that a middle infielder is not involved in, even if it's not hit right to them."

The Dodgers have brought in former big-league infielder Juan Castro to work with Castellanos for the Isotopes' first homestand of the year.

"He's just telling me to slow the game down, start thinking like an infielder," Castellanos said. "The outfield is a different story."

Watson is convinced that Castro, Jody Reed and other former second basemen who now work as coaches for the Dodgers can help Castellanos make a successful transition back to the keystone position.

"We have great instructors we feel we can get with him that can accelerate his learning curve," Watson said. "He definitely provides some offense for us at second base for the future."

In brief

Red alert: The Memphis Redbirds have gotten off to a terrible start, sitting at 2-9 through Sunday's action. A big part of the problem has been strikeouts; Memphis players have been punched out 101 times in 387 at-bats. Outfielder Amaury Cazana is the biggest offender with 16 Ks in 39 at-bats.

Fish tale: Top Angels prospect Mike Trout, who served as a designated hitter for Salt Lake to start the season due to illness and a sore shoulder, is slowly working his way back into the outfield. His bat, however, showed no ill-effects as he has hit .435 (20-for-46) with a home run and six RBIs.

Catcher down: Padres prospect Yasmani Grandal was placed on the seven-day disabled list Wednesday with a strained right hamstring. The catcher was part of the big offseason trade that sent Mat Latos from San Diego to Cincinnati and brought a package of prospects to San Diego. Grandal was hitting .500 (6-for-12) with one RBI through four games.

Chris Jackson is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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