In today’s game, there are so many young players who have entered the big leagues in the last five years and have seen immediate success. Players like Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, Carlos Correa, Kris Bryant, and Noah Syndergaard have all seemed to dominate since day 1. But for some players, it just isn’t that easy. For some guys, it takes time for them to get accustomed to the everyday grind and either being pitched to completely different than in the minors or having to face an entire lineup without easy outs. The game is not as easy as some of these youngsters have made it look. Sometimes, patience is needed.
Sometimes teams bring up young players to fill a hole in a team to try and make a potential contender a complete team. That was the case with Detroit Tiger’s Nick Castellanos. Castellanos’s first full big league season was in 2014 when Detroit made it to the ALDS before getting swept to the Baltimore Orioles. Castellanos got a lot of playing time but struggled as he played in 148 games but only produced a stat line of .259/.306/.394. Rookie seasons are a grind for a lot of new players as learning to play a 162 game season is an adjustment. Like many, I thought Castellanos was going to have a huge 2015 campaign. His stat line looked something like this in 154 games .255/.303/.419. There was not a huge improvement for Castellanos in his sophomore season. He won the job again this season and the patience has shown in the results. He is having a breakout season for the Tigers as his stat line is impressive .378/.405/.640. He is currently leading the American League in batting average and has become a force in the Tiger’s offense.
Jackie Bradley is another example of a team being patient with a young player. Bradley Jr. broke into the big leagues in 2013 as he made the Opening Day roster. I am not sure if he was quite ready for that though as quickly major league pitching found the flaw in his swing. He was unable to hit the down and in pitch and did not show good plate discipline. The Red Sox were patient as they stuck with him in 2014, playing him in 127 games and giving him 423 plate appearances but he only produced a stat line of .198/.265/.266. It appeared as if the Red Sox were moving on with Jackie Bradley Jr. as they signed Rusney Castillo to a huge deal. The best thing for Bradley Jr. may have been that the Red Sox were awful in 2015 and it gave Bradley Jr. another opportunity. Late last year, he flourished. In the month of August, he produced a .354/.429/.734 stat line, proving he could indeed hit big league pitching. He has taken off this year hitting .322 and is currently riding a 17 game hit streak. The patience that the Red Sox have shown with Bradley Jr. over the past couple of seasons is finally paying off.
Castellanos and Bradley Jr. are examples that not every young player is going to have an immediate impact in the big leagues. They join the list of players like Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer who played through growing pains in the big leagues. The Royals were loyal and patient to these players and both of them were at the core of the Royals 2015 World Series title. It is only May, but both Castellanos and Bradley Jr. look like they have made the necessary adjustments to be solid everyday players in the big leagues. Sometimes, a little patience is all that is needed.