Castellanos got an early start to his Perfect Game career, attending the 2006 WWBA Underclass World Championship early in his freshman year with the Deep South Florida team, and made his first showcase appearance at the 2007 Southeast Underclass Showcase in Atlanta at the start of his sophomore season. He went on to participate in 12 WWBA tournaments, mostly with the All American Prospects, and stood out at the 2009 Perfect Game National Showcase.
He received a PG Grade of 9 at that Southeast Underclass, a grade that in retrospect might have been a bit higher if he hadn’t run 7.35 in the 60-yard dash and only thrown 81 mph during infield drills. While Castellanos' run and throw tools were never stellar, he did get his sixty time down to 6.70 on the turf at the Metrodome in 2009 at the National Showcase. His fastest infield throw time was 87 mph.
What stood out about Castellanos even back then was his ability with the bat and how well he projected both physically and with his hitting skills. Here are the notes from that initial showcase, when Castellanos was 15-years-old and listed at 6-foot-3, 180-pounds:
Tall, good looking projectable athlete, has some bat speed, swing is long and loopy, showed oppo pop, looks to lift, has hitting tools to develop. Game swings were shorter, crisper but as a long levered athlete, will always have to work to stay short. Long arm, strong arm, corner guy, very good fundamentals, soft hands, player, smooth actions at 3B. Hit everything hard.
Perhaps because of his running speed and arm strength, Castellanos was always a better player to watch and evaluate in game situations, where his hitting ability and high baseball IQ had a better stage to stand up and perform. The left side of the All American Prospects infield for two years consisted of Castellanos at third base and PG All-American Yordy Cabrera, later a second round pick of the Oakland A’s, at shortstop. That talented combo led All American Prospects to the championship at the 2008 WWBA Underclass World Championship, where they shared Most Valuable Player honors.
Castellanos was one of the final players considered but not selected for the 2009 Perfect Game All-American Game that featured players such as Bryce Harper, Jameson Taillon and Kris Bryant, while Angels top prospect Kaleb Cowart was the starting third baseman for the East team. Cabrera, won the Rawlings Home Run Challenge that year.
Castellanos was obviously very well known to scouts at that point but his draft stock really blossomed during his senior season at Archbishop McCarthy High School. He played so well defensively at shortstop during the spring that there was talk about his potential ability to play that position as a professional, just as there was similar conversation about another fast-rising infield prospect in Miami at the same time named Manny Machado. And, of course, Castellanos did what he’d always done offensively: crush the ball consistently (.542 with 42 RBI) and run the bases with plus instincts (22 steals).
While Castellanos was considered a solid first-round talent on the field, there was a significant concern about his signability going into the draft. Castellanos was a solid student in the classroom and was an articulate young man with a scholarship to the hometown Miami Hurricanes, while his father Jorge is a physician. The Tigers ventured where many decided to shy away, picking Castellanos with the 44th overall pick and signing him to a $3.45 million signing bonus. - David Rawnsley