Who Will Break Camp with the Rockies, Harold Castro or Alan Trejo?
The two utility players are vying for one position.
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The Rockies have their first Spring Training game tomorrow, which is excellent news, especially after the bone-chilling week we’ve experienced here in northern Wyoming. The return of baseball embodies the hope of longer, warmer days and the promise of spring.
Meanwhile, the Rockies are beginning the work of constructing their roster for Opening Day.
One of the questions I’ve been pondering is who will assume the role of utility player now that Garrett Hampson is vying for a spot with the Miami Marlins. Initially, I had assumed the job would go to Alan Trejo, who showed himself to be an able (and improved) player in 2022. However, in January, the Rockies signed former Detroit Tigers utility player Harold Castro to an MiLB contract.
It’s worth considering, then, how Trejo and Castro compare as utility players and which one is most likely to begin the season with the Rockies.
I Really Don’t Follow the Tigers, So Who Is Harold Castro?
The 29-year-old native of Caracas, Venezuela, has spent his career in the Tigers’ system, signing with them in 2010 as a 16 year old. After taking eight years to work his way through Detroit’s minor-league system, Castro made his MLB debut in September 2018. In 2019, he was named Detroit’s Rookie of the Year by local media.
His career since then has been fine but unremarkable. In 2022, Castro had the Tigers’ highest batting average (.271) and had 114 hits, 7 home runs, and 21 doubles — all career highs.
In November, the Tigers non-tendered him, and he ultimately signed a minor-league deal with the Rockies. He has a career fWAR of -1.0. In case you’re interested, his most recent contract was worth around $582,000.
What Would He Bring to the Rockies?
Two things come to mind. First, Castro is truly a utility player. The Tigers used him at all positions — save catcher — and he has pitched every season when a game got out of hand.
Second, he’s a lefty, and the Rockies have made clear they are in the market for some left-handed batters. In fact, here he is at Spring Training this week.
How Does He Compare to Alan Trejo?
I’ve written about Alan Trejo before, so I won’t review that here. In short, Trejo had a rough call up in 2021 but was much improved in 2022. In 125 plate appearances last year, he hit four home runs and bettered all of his offensive metrics.
Trejo may be less versatile than Castro, but he told me last September that he would be doing reps in the outfield over to prepare for possible action there, effectively making himself even more versatile.
Actually, let’s look to FanGraphs for a more exact comparison between Castro and Trejo. I’ve decided to stick with just the numbers from 2022.
Castro had 318 more plate appearances than Trejo, yet Trejo hit four home runs to Castro’s seven. In addition, Trejo was the better offensive player in every category, save K% and wRC+. In fact, here he is going yard in San Francisco last September.
Now consider their defensive stats.
Castro is clearly the more versatile defender; however, his defensive effectiveness is a separate issue. A DRS of -9 at third base is not encouraging. Conversely, Trejo should not spend much time at shortstop given his DRS of -5. (Then again, he’ll be playing shortstop for Team Mexico in the WBC, so what do I know?) Last year, neither was a stellar defender, but Trejo was the better of the two.
What’s the Verdict?
Trejo is not a lefty, and he’s had limited outfield experience, both factors that weigh against him. However, the Rockies need players who can hit and provide offense. Although Trejo has not yet tapped into that potential, his improvement in 2022 over 2021 is promising. Moreover, he would probably be a less-expensive choice. In 2022, Trejo will make $702,000; Castro is projected to make $1,275,000. It’s not a huge difference, but this is the Rockies, so who knows?
Alan Trejo has earned this opportunity and shown the potential to be an effective utility player. Soon enough, we’ll know what the Rockies think.
Down on the Farm
This is a pretty terrific profile from Kevin Henry on Gabriel Hughes, the Rockies’ 2022 first-round draft pick (who also graduated from Gonzaga with a degree in biology and a plan to attend medical school when his baseball career has ended).
The Rockies’ catcher of the future, Drew Romo, is enjoying his first Spring Training.
Keith Law has released his list of “20 prospects who should make an impact in 2023.” One of them? Ezequiel Tovar.
This week, FanGraphs published their Top 100 prospects lists — four future Rockies made the cut.
Carlos Estévez has already assumed a leadership role with his new team, the Angels.
What I’m Reading
Eno Sarris’ “Ten Young MLB Bats Who Could Break out This Season” (The Athletic) — Brendan Rodgers, come on down!
David Schoenfield’s “The Most Intriguing Player for 2023 on All 30 MLB Teams” (ESPN.com) — Two words: Kris Bryant.
Will Leitch’s “One Big (But Reasonable) Goal for Each Team” (MLB.com) — Once again, the focus is on Kris Bryant.
Chelsea Janes’ “The San Diego Padres Are Baseball’s Most Fascinating Experiment” (Washington Post) — Can Peter Seidler pull it off, and will he put an end to small-market teams complaining they can’t afford to compete? We’re going to find out.
This Twitter thread from Rays relief pitcher Ryan Thompson is worth your time.
atRockies is back, and they’re producing some pretty good Spring Training content, like this:
Alan Trejo: Professional tennis player? Versatility, indeed!
Enjoy the Rockies first Spring Training game tomorrow (albeit on the radio).
Thanks for reading —
@ReneeDechert (Twitter) ★ @ReneeDechert (Mastodon) ★ @Renee.Dechert (Instagram) ★ @ReneeDechert (Post)
I don't think I have ever been so bored as to consider what Harold Castro will bring to the Rockies or if he will find himself in a Rockies uniform in October. I don't think he will and unless Trejo is injured, Castro doesn't even have a job out of Spring Training. But what do I know...