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Andy Behrens

Cubs promote top prospect Starlin Castro to majors

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The Chicago Cubs were swept decisively in Pittsburgh this week, so they're looking to distract a grumbling fan base ignite a struggling lineup. Top prospect Starlin Castro(notes) has reportedly been promoted from Double-A Tennessee. ESPN's Enrique Rojas first tweeted the news. It's since been confirmed by WGN's Dave Kaplan.

Castro hasn't found Southern League pitching to be much of a challenge, as he's delivered a .376/.421/.569 line over 121 plate appearances. (Don't get too excited by that slugging percentage; Castro has eight doubles, five triples and one home run thus far. He hit three homers in 509 plate appearances last year). He's swiped four bases, but he's been caught five times. Last year's stolen base success rate was much better, though still not ideal (28-for-39).

Castro is just a few weeks removed from his 20th birthday, so it's a bit ridiculous to project immediate major league greatness. He's not a walker (29 BB in '09), but he doesn't pile up Ks, either (53 last year). Because of the contact rate, it's not quite appropriate to compare him to Felix Pie(notes) and Corey Patterson(notes), tempting though it may be. Scouts generally say that Castro has plus-speed, nice defensive range at short, and power potential; the minor league numbers support those observations. He's adjusted well to each new level of competition. His free agency has already been delayed, but he may still qualify as a Super Two, for those who care about such things.

The Cubs clearly wouldn't call him up just to administer the Ka'aihue treatment. Castro is going to play. His addition figures to bump Ryan Theriot(notes) to second base and push Mike Fontenot(notes) into the utility role for which he was born. Chad Tracy(notes) gets kicked to the curb. Early reports suggest that Castro will bat eighth, which is not exactly a coveted spot in any National League lineup. (But at this point, anything that gets Geovany Soto(notes) out of the No. 8 spot is probably a win). Long term, Castro has all-star potential; Tony Fernandez feels like the right comparison.

In the immediate future, we can simply hope he'll tread water and steal a few bags.

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