Phillies 2024 Season Preview: INF Rodolfo Castro

After a disappointing stint with the Phillies to end 2023, the infielder will be trying to earn a spot in Philadelphia during the 2024 season.
Rodolfo Castro, Philadelphia Phillies
Rodolfo Castro, Philadelphia Phillies / Mitchell Layton/GettyImages

The sixth entry in our Philadelphia Phillies 2024 Season Preview series is infielder Rodolfo Castro.

Previous season previews: José Alvarado, Andrew Bellatti, Alec Bohm, Connor Brogdon, Nick Castellanos

We'll look back at Castro's 2023 performance and then examine where he might end up this season using the popular Steamer and ZiPS projection systems, which can be found on FanGraphs.

Rodolfo Castro 2023 stats and 2024 projections

2023 stats (Pirates + Phillies): 92 G, 256 PA, 48 H, 6 HR, 24 RBI, .211 AVG, .297 OBP, .322 SLG, -0.9 fWAR

2024 Steamer: 15 G, 60 PA, 12 H, 2 HR, 7 RBI, .226 AVG, .296 OBP, .401 SLG, 0.1 fWAR

2024 ZiPS: 444 PA, 87 H, 15 HR, 61 RBI, .216 AVG, .284, OBP, .378 SLG, -0.3 fWAR

*Editor's note: ZiPS projections include both minor and major league innings but the performance estimates are all major league level.

Rodolfo Castro 2024 season preview

In 2023, Rodolfo Castro came over to the Philadelphia Phillies in a deal with the Pittsburgh Pirates at the trade deadline.

In his new uniform, the 24-year-old infielder struggled to find his footing in limited action. With the Phillies, he slashed .100/.156/.100 with zero home runs, two RBI, two walks, 12 strikeouts and only three hits in 32 plate appearances.

As the Phillies were gearing up for their second straight playoff run, the organization optioned Castro to their Spring Training complex, leaving him off the playoff roster.

When considering his stats with Philadelphia, the current roster, and where he ended the season, it's fair to question where Castro slots in with this team going forward.

Castro's MLB time will decrease in 2024

When looking at the Steamer projections for Castro, he's slotted in with 60 plate appearances in 15 games this season. Those numbers are down from 256 plate appearances across 92 games in 2023 between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

As Dan Szymborski, creator of the ZiPS projection system, noted in November: "Another crucial thing to bear in mind is that the basic ZiPS projections are not playing-time predictors, at least with players without firm possession of a full-time job in the majors." So it's important to remember ZiPS is not projecting Castro to earn 444 MLB at-bats this season.

If nothing else, Castro's defensive ability at second base, and his ability to fill in at shortstop and third base, could be enough for the team to give him another opportunity in the big leagues in 2024.

According to Baseball Savant, among qualified second basemen (minimum of 100 throws), Castro led the league with an 86.5 mph mark for the average of the top five percent of his throws at the position. For comparison, future Gold Glover Bryson Stott was seventh at 83.9. Across second base, third and shortstop, Castro slotted in seventh with an 89.3 mark.

Heading into 2024, there is no doubt the Phillies are locked in with Stott at second, Trea Turner at shortstop and Alec Bohm at third. Likewise, Edmundo Sosa has proved to be a reliable backup to each of those positions, meaning there isn't much room left for Castro.

That leaves the minor leagues.

Castro has one minor league option left. Expect the infielder to get most of his work done in the minors, likely in Triple-A with the Lehigh Valley IronPigs.

Castro expected to see a slight bump in offensive production

One thing the Phillies will look for Castro to rediscover in the minors is his pop. After hitting six home runs with the Pirates in 2023, he put up zero with Philly.

While the Steamer projections have Castro hitting two homers, ZiPS is projecting — across a full year's worth of production — Castro's homer total will jump up to 15.

With manager Rob Thomson liking to sit Bryson Stott against lefties for most of last season, Castro could find himself in the lineup against southpaws again, though ZiPS is projecting that Castro will only hit .225 against left-handed pitching.

With the Phillies in 2023, Castro lost some of his plate discipline, striking out 37.5 percent of the time and only walking 6.3 percent of the time. Steamer is projecting those numbers to stabilize to 27.8 and 8.0. The projection also has him raising his wRC+ mark from 69 last year to 87 this season.

Both Steamer and ZiPS are projecting he will see slight increases in batting average and slugging percentage, with Steamer having him eclipse the .400 mark for slugging. After struggling to a .256 OPS with the Phillies last season, Steamer projections also have him rebounding to a .697 OPS.

As it stands, though, the projected improvements aren't enough to move the needle. The 24-year-old will likely get more acquainted with the team's minor league system than he will with the big league club in 2024.

The switch-hitter's potential is intriguing, however.

If he can gain some consistent playing time in Triple-A to string together some momentum at the plate, he provides value as someone who could come off the bench for Philadelphia and play a solid middle infield spot to spell starters and Sosa when needed.

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