Castellanos with the Detroit Tigers
|Detroit Tigers – No. 9|
March 4, 1992 |
|September 1, 2013, for the Detroit Tigers|
(through 2016 season)
|Runs batted in||197|
Drafted out of high school in 2010, Castellanos emerged as the Tigers' best hitting prospect in the minor leagues, where he mostly played third base and left field. One of the top prospects in baseball, Castellanos appeared in the 2012 All-Star Futures Game, and was named the Most Valuable Player of the contest. He made his MLB debut on September 1, 2013.
Castellanos was raised by his parents, Michelle and Jorge, in South Florida. His mother's family is based in Michigan. Castellanos attended the American Heritage School in Plantation, Florida, where he played for the school's baseball team. American Heritage won the Florida state championship in his sophomore year. Castellanos transferred to Archbishop McCarthy High School in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, before his junior year. He was named Gatorade Player of the Year for the state of Florida after finishing his senior season with a .542 batting average, 34 runs scored, 41 runs batted in (RBIs) and 22 stolen bases while leading his team to the Class 4A state championship. In the 2009 Under Armour All-America Game, played at Wrigley Field, he scored three runs, had four doubles and three RBIs, winning Most Valuable Player honors. The Sun-Sentinel named Castellanos the Class 6A-5A-4A Player of the Year.
Castellanos played for the United States national baseball team for individuals 18 years of age and under in the 2009 Pan American Junior Championships, in which he batted .356 with six doubles and nine RBIs, leading all players with 14 runs scored, as the team won the gold medal. Castellanos was named to the All-Tournament team. He committed to attend the University of Miami on a baseball scholarship. He intended to play college baseball for the Miami Hurricanes baseball team in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
The Detroit Tigers selected Castellanos with the 44th pick in the 2010 Major League Baseball Draft. He was rated by Baseball America as the third best power hitting prospect and fourteenth best overall prospect prior to the draft. He slipped because of his commitment to the University of Miami. He signed with the Tigers, receiving a $3.45 million signing bonus, the highest bonus at that point ever given to a player taken after the first round.[notes 1] The deal was almost invalidated, as the Tigers' email to the office of the Commissioner of Baseball was not received until three minutes after the midnight deadline on August 15, 2010; a text message about the deal to the Commissioner's Office received at 11:59 convinced the Commissioner to approve the deal.
Though Castellanos played shortstop in high school, the Tigers shifted him to third base as a professional. Castellanos appeared in seven games for the Gulf Coast Tigers of the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League that season. Before the 2011 season, Baseball America rated Castellanos as the 65th best prospect in baseball. He played for the West Michigan Whitecaps of the Class-A Midwest League. With the Whitecaps, Castellanos batted .312 with seven home runs and 76 RBIs, leading the Midwest League with 158 hits and being named the Tigers' minor league position player of the year.
Prior to the 2012 season, Baseball America ranked him as the second best prospect in the organization and 45th best in baseball. The Tigers invited Castellanos to spring training in 2012, and expect to assign him to either the Class-A Advanced Lakeland Tigers of the Florida State League or the Class-AA Erie SeaWolves of the Eastern League. Castellanos began the 2012 season with Class-A Lakeland. He was named the Tigers' minor league player of the month of May 2012. After batting .402 with 32 RBIs in 55 games for Lakeland, the Tigers promoted Castellanos to Erie on June 4. Appearing in the 2012 All-Star Futures Game, Castellanos hit a three-run home run, and was named the game's Most Valuable Player. He batted .264 with Erie that year.
Castellanos was blocked at third base by Miguel Cabrera and at first base by Prince Fielder. He has been seen as a potential centerpiece for a trade to acquire a marquee talent. However, the Tigers considered Castellanos untouchable in trade negotiations. Castellanos began to take outfield practice in left field during the 2012 season.
With Castellanos now playing left field on a full-time basis, the Tigers optioned him to the Toledo Mud Hens of the Class AAA International League at the start of the 2013 season. In 134 games for the Mud Hens, Castellanos batted .276 with 18 home runs and 76 RBIs. He appeared in the Triple-A All-Star Game and was named to the International League's post-season All-Star team.
When major league rosters expanded on September 1, 2013, Castellanos was among the players promoted to the Tigers, and made his major league debut that day, playing left field. On September 7, Castellanos made his first major league start, and recorded his first major league hit, an infield single, off Danny Duffy. However, he received infrequent playing time, as the Tigers were in a pennant race and manager Jim Leyland preferred to use players with more major league experience. He batted 5-for-18 with the Tigers in 2013.
After the 2013 season, the Tigers traded Prince Fielder. Dave Dombrowski, the general manager of the Tigers at that time, said that they would shift Miguel Cabrera to first base, and use Castellanos as their starting third baseman for 2014.
Castellanos hit his first MLB home run on April 9, 2014 off the top of the wall in dead center field off Josh Beckett of the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. He finished his rookie season with a .259 batting average, 11 home runs, 31 doubles and 66 RBIs. He was named the 2014 Detroit Tigers/Detroit Sports Broadcasters Association Rookie of the Year.
Castellanos had a breakout season in 2016. Through the All-Star break, he was hitting .302 with 17 home runs and 51 RBIs, while playing as the Tigers' starting third baseman. On August 6, Castellanos was struck by a pitch from New York Mets reliever Logan Verrett, fracturing the fifth metacarpal bone in his left hand. After the game, Castellanos was placed on the 15-day disabled list for the first time in his career, and was expected to miss at least four weeks. Castellanos did not return to the Tigers until the final week of the regular season, entering a September 27 game against the Cleveland Indians as a pinch hitter. During the 2016 season, Castellanos set career highs with a .285 average, 18 home runs, .331 on-base percentage, and a .496 slugging percentage, despite being limited to 110 games.
On January 13, 2017, the Tigers avoided arbitration with Castellanos, agreeing on a one-year contract worth $3 million.
Castellanos and Vanessa Hernandez have a son, named Liam, born in August 2013. They were married during the 2014–15 offseason. Castellanos' younger brother, Ryan, played college baseball for Nova Southeastern University and was drafted by the Tigers in the 25th round of the 2015 Major League Baseball Draft.
Castellanos is a huge Miami Dolphins fan.
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- Bertha, Mike (June 10, 2015). "Aww, the Tigers let Nick Castellanos draft his little brother in the 25th round of the MLB Draft". MLB.com. Retrieved June 10, 2015.
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