COMMENTARY | The baseball season is quickly approaching July 31, where one of the greatest debates throughout the sport starts heating up.
What should a team do with their top prospect?
The trade deadline is a time when everyone puts their caps on and plays GM, trying to decipher the best possible answer regarding their team's present and future.
It's no different in the Motor City, as it's been a midsummer ritual for the past five seasons. The Detroit Tigers have taken the "go big or go home" trade method since then, with mixed results.
Last season, the Tigers felt one of the worst pains of being a contender when they dealt top prospect Jacob Turner for Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante. This year, they face the same impending decision this month regarding outfielder Nick Castellanos.
Castellanos, a first round draft pick in 2010, has climbed through the minors since making his professional debut fresh out of high school. Just a mere three years later, he's experiencing what every top prospect goes through while playing for contending organization -- the great unknown.
With only three weeks remaining to decide their plans for the immediate future, here are three options the Tigers consider when it comes to Castellanos:
Leave him in the minors
Ever hear of the old saying, "you can't rush perfection?" It just so happens to be true.
Castellanos is far from perfection, but every professional hitter not named Bryce Harper or Mike Trout needs some amount of practice before making the show.
Imagine ordering a side of fries at your favorite restaurant. If they were delivered to your table, missing the greatness of seasoning, then they're just bland fries. They demand an "eh" response.
The same can be said for Castellanos.
If the Tigers -- or whomever might control him come August -- rush his development, he may wind up being bland when he's "finished." He needs that perfect amount of seasoning before being served to the fans anxiously awaiting his arrival.
For some strange reason, this happens to be the most popular option amongst Tigers fans. It's the one move I'd plead the team to avoid making, but at the end of the day, baseball is a business.
Since Castellanos is a highly touted prospect, many teams would be interested in his services. The Tigers are currently in need of bullpen help, perhaps even a true closer, before the trade deadline. Both go together like peanut butter and jelly.
Relievers such as Huston Street, Jonathan Papelbon, and John Axford all fit the bill the regarding the Tigers needs and could find themselves in the team's shopping cart in the coming weeks.
It's likely the Tigers couldn't finish a deal for one of those relievers with just Castellanos, though. Giving up the 21-year-old outfielder and others for a rental or an above average reliever would be a huge risk, but could be the one to push them over the hump.
There's not much left for Castellanos to prove at the minor league level. He was just ranked the no. 15 in Baseball America's midseason Top 50 prospects after an impressive first-half
After an impressive June, one in which he had a .361/.441/.583 slash line with five home runs and 15 RBIs, Castellanos has made the Triple A All-Star team. Though, he opted to skip it with his wife expecting the couple's first child.
A large portion of his .288 average, 11 home runs, and 47 RBIs have come on the heels of his April struggles. This alone is enough to make Tigers' left fielders sweat with anxiety -- they know he's coming, they just don't know when.
Andy Dirks, Matt Tuiasosopo, and Don Kelly -- the Tigers current group of left fielders -- have combined to hit .265 with 15 home runs and 55 RBIs in 452 at bats this year.
Though it may not appear like the Tigers have offensive inconsistencies at this moment, it's a good bet that they will return once their bats return to earth. Castellanos can provide spark down the stretch, and if called up before August 31, he can continue that into the postseason.
For the next three weeks, Castellanos will be surrounded by the unknown. Nobody knows what will happen to him, or how soon his future will become a reality.
The Tigers can take many routes regarding their top prospect's future. Only time will tell which one they'll take.
Ricky Lindsay has followed the Detroit Tigers and Major League Baseball with a close eye from Metro Detroit for several years. He's the sports editor for his college newspaper, The Michigan Journal, and broadcasts games for the Michigan Lightning, a semi-professional football team.
You can find him on Twitter @RLindz35.
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- Detroit Tigers
- Nick Castellanos