I apologize for being so brief with my thoughts on the Astros frenzy of roster moves Sunday. I was wrapping up the third party in as many days for my son's first birthday. As such, I didn't get to put in as much analysis as I would have liked. You guys were great in the comments, talking care of a lot of angles. I thought I could fill in some extra ones.
Castro just turned 23 last Friday and is in his Age 23 season. When I talked about him earlier this season in this article, I thought they figured ages by June 15, but have since seen that the date is June 30. Assuming that Castro plays in 80 percent of the remaining 92 games on the schedule, he'll get to 73 games played in the majors. There have been 104 Astros players in history to make their debuts at 23 or younger. Of those, 98 played in less than 73 games, while eight played in 70 or more. There are some notable names on that list, such as Jimmy Wynn, Cesar Cedeno and Rusty Staub. There are also some less-known names like Rob Andrews and Hector Torres. Former bullpen catcher Mark Bailey also showed up on the list, as did the oft-mentioned John Bateman.
I also talked about catchers as a whole in their Age 23 season. 28 different catchers played in at least 70 games during their debut seasons at 23 or younger. Four of those happened in the past four seasons, as Jared Saltalamacchia and Jesus Flores both topped 70 games behind the dish in 2007, Matt Wieters played in 93 games last season and Russell Martin played in 121 back in 2006. The only other player in the last 15 years to top the feat was Jason Kendall. As I said before, it's rare company Castro is chasing.
Buster Posey is also in his Age 23 season, but he has only played two games at catcher and 18 at first base. The Giants need his bat more than his defense behind the plate, so I doubt he gets to the 70 game mark this season. Other catchers debuting in 2010 are Drew Butera, MIN (27), Jonathan Lucroy, MIL (24), Carlos Santana, CLE (24) and Wilson Ramos, MIN (22). Neither Butera nor Ramos figure to play in 70 games behind the plate with Joe Mauer in Minnesota. Lucroy has played in 11 games at catcher and Santana has played eight. Castro may not catch either player for most games played by a rookie catcher, but he could very well be the thirtieth 23-year old to play at least 70 games. At night. On Artificial Turf. On a Tuesday. (Thanks to Baseball Reference's incomparable Play Index for the information).
Castro's numbers have been depressed recently by a 3 for 20 slump in his last four games. Castro struck out five times over that span and didn't walk once, but he did hit a home run and a double. Two of those games were on the road against the Iowa Cubs and the other two were at home against the Omaha Royals. Of course, he also hit .263 in the first five games of his last 10, so you can play with sample sizes all you want to show how good or bad Castro has been. With the level of competition and his age, I think he's more than held his own in the Pacific Coast League.
One last note on his defense. We can't really measure his game-calling abilities or his footwork behind the plate. What we can measure are passed balls/wild pitches and stolen base attempts/caught stealing percentage compared to the rest of the league. The PCL stolen base success rate is at 69 percent. Castro's caught stealing rate is at 38 percent, which means 61 percent of base runners have been successful against him. That's obviously below the league average, which is good. That doesn't tell the whole story, though. How many attempts has he had per game compared to the league average? It doesn't do anything to throw out a good percentage if teams still run on you, after all. The PCL average is 66 stolen base attempts per team, which translates to .95 attempts per game, with .67 successful steals per game. Castro's numbers come out to .62 attempts per game and .38 successful steals. So, he's well above average in deterring the running game.
As for blocking balls, Castro has been charged with four passed balls in 54 games. That's slightly higher than the league average. On the plus side, Round Rock ranks near the bottom of the league in wild pitches. Baseball Reference doesn't track how many wild pitches happened on each catcher's watch, but you can bet Castro had just as big a reason in keeping those WPs down as he did getting charged with those passed balls. So, on the whole, I think Castro should be better than Kevin Cash at blocking balls in the dirt, but he's got a ways to go to become Brad Ausmus in that respect. He'll still be a good defensive catcher, and will get better as he plays more games in the majors.
Expect Brian Esposito to get most of the starts behind the plate for Round Rock from now on. If Kevin Cash clears waivers, it's possible he'll split time with Esposito. If not, look for Lou Santangelo to get the call from Corpus.
I'm also guessing German Duran or Marcos Cabral will get the call to take Chris Johnson's spot at third. The team could opt to just plug Matt Kata into that spot as well. They could also slide either Michael Garciaparra over there or Drew Meyer, with Edwin Maysonet and Ozzie Navarro getting the starts at second base. Freddy Parejo is the guy I bet gets called up from Lancaster to Corpus.