Friday, May 7, 2010
By Luke Stuckmeyer
Starlin Castro has been called one of the top 15 prospects in the Majors. The Cubs believe he's ready after hitting .376 in 26 games at Tennessee.
Remember Lou Piniella pointed out in spring training, "the great ones are ready at a young age."
Well, Castro is definitely young. We're about to find out about the other part.
He makes his Major League debut at the age of 20 years and 44 days. That makes him the Cubs youngest rookie since Oscar Gamble played his first game back in 1969. Gamble was only 19.
CSN Analyst Todd Hollandsworth believes that age is over-rated.
"Great players want to be challenged. Age does not matter at all. If a player is ready...a player is ready. Castro one of those rare players who's not defined just by his bat. He can change a game with his defense and speed," Hollandsworth said.
Over the last couple years, other young stars have thrived in Chicago. Gordon Beckham sparked the White Sox in 2009. Patrick Kane, Jonathon Toews and Derrick Rose were stars before they could even by a beer. It just seems that success happens a lot less frequently in baseball.
"There is a large part of the game that is played mentally. You can't get away with just athleticism. You have to understand how to play the game at the Major League level. There's no minor leagues for the NBA or the NFL," said Hollandsworth.
Castro isn't the only player who will have to make an adjustment on the fly. Ryan Theriot has to switch to 2nd base. Mike Fontenot and Jeff Baker will have to prepare for roles off the bench. When he played with the Marlins, Hollandworth was replaced in the starting lineup by a 20 year old rookie named Miguel Cabrera.
"Theriot, Fontenot and Baker will all succeed in their new roles if they embrace it. If they look at this as a demotion, they will struggle. If they look at this as a challenge and as a way to improve the team, it can work."
So, get your 13 jerseys for the next homestand. Hollandsworth is wearing his lucky Cubbie Cufflinks. Now, let's hope its a lucky 13 for the Cubs top prospect.
Luke Stuckmeyer covers the Cubs for Comcast SportsNet. Follow him on Twitter @CSNStucky.