Previewing the Batavia Muckdogs
The Batavia Muckdogs, New York-Penn League affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals, finished last season in third place in the Pinckney Division with a 37-39 record. Among the players who might suit up for the Muckdogs this season is shortstop Yunier Castillo, one of the Cardinals’ top 30 prospects according to Baseball America.
Tim McCullough, a contributor at futureredbirds.net and vivaelbirdos.com, joined Connecticut Tiger Den to talk about Castillo and other Cardinals in extended spring training who may play for Batavia this season.
Stephen Hamel: Do you expect Yunier Castillo to be Batavia’s starting shortstop this season? Can you give a brief scouting report on him?
Tim McCullough: It’s likely to be Yunier Castillo or Hector Alvarez both of whom spent most of their 2009 season at Johnson City. Castillo is a product of the Latin American Academy and as is the case with a lot of the prospects the Cardinals are developing from the academy, he’s a little older than you’d like to see for a player headed toward short season baseball. Castillo’s a slick fielder and the Cardinals like his glove work at shortstop. He’s a slap hitter with little plate discipline and doubles power at best which limits his overall offensive profile.
SH: What team do you think Ted Obregon will be assigned to? What are the strengths and weaknesses of his game?
TM: I’d expect Obregon to be assigned to Batavia. He’s a good baserunner with above average speed. His glove isn’t quite good enough for shortstop so he’s definitely a 2B. Offensively, he’s got good bat control and should develop some additional power over the next two years if he can add some muscle and fill out a bit. He’s not the most selective hitter and strikeouts could be a problem long term but he’s drawing enough walks to get by in the short term.
SH: Does Anthony Ferrara have the ability to lead Batavia’s pitching staff this year?
TM: Ferrara has the ability to be a special pitcher. He’s got 3 pitches and an electric arm. Combine that with a projectable frame and he was a favorite for a lot of scouts. The downside with Ferrara is his injury history, which includes visits to elbow specialist Dr. James Andrews. If Ferrara can stay healthy, he’s got the stuff and the command to devour short season hitters.
SH: Michael Thompson had a really impressive SO/BB ratio last season with Johnson City. What kind of stuff does he have?
TM: Thompson’s a 23 going on 24 in August. He got hit hard last year despite striking out a healthy number of batters. He’s not someone who projects to the majors. He’s more of a finesse pitcher than a power guy with plus stuff.
SH: Is there anyone else in extended spring training who could make an impact with Batavia this season?
TM: The Cardinals still have hope that one of their few high profile Latin bonus babies could turn things around and tap into some of the talent scouts saw when they were signed. Roberto de la Cruz was signed mostly for his offensive potential though he’s got a good chance to stick at 3rd. Jose Rada is a right-handed reliever out of Venezuela who was very successful in Johnson City last year. While it would be a jump, there’s an outside chance that Hector Hernandez makes the leap from Gulf Coast League to Batavia. He’s a very young lefty with good arm including an above average fastball and an inconsistent breaking ball with potential.