The Chicago Cubs’ top positional prospect and top pitching prospect, Starlin Castro and Andrew Cashner, respectively, are doing very little this year to merit a change in those mantles. Each is tearing up AA, and Bruce Levine has suggested we might see them in Chicago sooner rather than later.
Shortstop Starlin Castro has been ripping up Double-AA pitching and playing solid defense at Tennessee. The Castro scenario is a ‘when’ rather than a ‘maybe’ in projecting him to the majors. The Cubs’ top position player prospect has been on a fast track to the Cubs since last fall, when he led the Arizona Fall League in hitting while impressing many a grizzled veteran scout.
“Will he swing and miss too often? That’s the only hole in his game I see,” said a long-time National League scout. “Very smooth on defense, strong arm, solid bat … the kid may eventually hit 15-20 home runs. I think he’s really a can’t-miss guy.”
Castro played just 31 games at Double-A before the beginning of this season. Another strong month in the minors should lead him to Clark and Addison.
Ryan Theriot’s slow start has helped Cubs management decide this move could be made earlier in the season rather than as a late-summer call-up.
Andrew Cashner has been starting since 2009. The Cubs’ 2008 first-round pick was a stellar closer at TCU. There’s no real consensus among the Cubs’ development people whether Cashner should be a starter or reliever at this point. The thinking is the young power pitcher could be a starter if he continues to develop a third pitch.
The organization has to make sure it doesn’t have a repeat of the Jeff Samardzija situation. Floating between starting and relieving has cost him — and the Cubs — valuable development.
Neither scenario is implausible. If Castro continues to rake, and display defensive skills superior to Ryan Theriot, it is conceivable that he’ll get the call sometime around mid-season. Then again, the move becomes more complicated if Theriot has started hitting by then, and the second base tandem of Mike Fontenot and Jeff Baker are also hitting well.
As for Cashner, he’ll not be getting a shot as a starter in the bigs this year, short of a rash of injuries. So his chance would have to come in the pen, and as Bruce points out, the Cubs – for better or worse – are gunshy about shuffling a young arm between the bullpen bigs and the minor league rotation.