A year ago, there was talk of Astros’ rookie backstop Jason Castro being a quality late round sleeper in fantasy leagues. But then he tore his ACL and, with surgery needed, Castro missed the entire 2011 season. He made it back to play in the Arizona Fall League and was returning to “potential sleepers” lists until he injured himself again during the final game and required foot surgery in mid-December. He was expected to miss atleast three months. But on Sunday, Brian McTaggert, an Astos beat writer for MLB.com, reported that Castro has already declared himself good to go and is ready to ease his way back in. An early return? Is that enough to put him back on your watch list? Is he worth a late round/$1 pick on draft day?
When the Astros signed Chris Snyder last month, it was pointed out just how much of a mess the catcher position had been in Houston for fantasy owners. With names like Brad Ausmus, Gregg Zaun and J.R. Towles, there hasn’t been a Houston backstop worth a sniff in fantasy in a decade’s time. So it’s understandable for people to get excited about a home-grown prospect who has been deemed the “catcher of the future” for the team. But that doesn’t mean that he’s going to be worthy of a roster spot on your team.
Just looking at Castro’s offensive numbers is enough to put you into a coma. You might actually have to stare at his player page for a while to read the stats, as your eyes continuously well up from all the yawning you’ll do. He is best known for his defensive skills which should immediately tell you something about his bat, and his biggest asset at the plate is his walk rate. Obviously that makes his OBP shine bright, but it’s not like he’s got any speed to help manufacture runs on the base paths, and there certainly isn’t anything in his runs scored column that makes you take notice.
His biggest season was in 2009 when he split time between Class-A+ and Double-A and hit .300 with 10 home runs over 511 plate appearances. He had a .146 total ISO for the year. Not bad, right? But that’s as good as it gets for Castro. Seriously.
The following season, Castro started out in Triple-A and managed just a .261 average with four home runs and one stolen base. His walk rate was great at 13.1% which inflated his OBP to .361, but again, nothing else in the stat column looked appealing. When the Astros needed another backstop on the big league level they went with him and watched as he proved to be over-matched at the plate. Again, a solid 10.1% walk rate but a slash line of .205/.286/.287 over 217 plate appearances is not good for fantasy purposes.
Now the Astros have Snyder in the mix, and regardless of Castro’s seemingly quick-healing powers, he’s going to stay in the mix, probably for the entire season. While Castro might be the better defensive player, the team will undoubtedly turn to Snyder’s bat and power potential when they start losing games and struggle to score runs. Let other fantasy owners make the mistake in thinking that Castro is going to be worth something this season. You have plenty of other low-end, late round, super-cheap options from which to choose if you decide to wait on a catcher. You don’t want to waste even your last dollar/pick on him.