Two summers ago, Nick Castellanos made the life-changing decision to bypass a college career at Miami and begin playing professional baseball.
Today, the former Archbishop McCarthy standout is in Kansas City, basking in the limelight after an impressive showing at the Futures Game, the annual all-star showdown that features some of the best talent in the minor leagues.
Castellanos, third baseman for the Erie SeaWolves, earned Larry Doby Most Valuable Player Award honors after going 3-for-4 with a home run, three RBI and three runs in USA's 17-5 win over the World on Sunday.
"In the beginning, I was a little bit nervous, but after my first at-bat, I remembered it was just a baseball game," said Castellanos. "Just because I was in Kansas City, I didn't need to change anything. I felt more comfortable and helped my team win. It was absolutely unbelievable to be around all these big-time prospects, getting the big-league treatment and playing in front of 41,000 fans."
His Futures Game performance is just one more accomplishment on Castellanos' glittering resume.
In 2010, just weeks after leading McCarthy to its first state championship and being named both the Sun Sentinel and Gatorade Florida Baseball Player of the Year, Castellanos was selected 44th overall by the Tigers in the compensation round of the Major League Baseball first-year player draft.
He signed with Detroit that August and began moving his way through the Tigers' system.
Last September, after his first full season in the minors, Castellanos was named the Tigers' Minor League Player of the Year after hitting .312 with 36 doubles, seven home runs and 76 RBI with Class A West Michigan.
He opened 2012 with the single-A Lakeland Flying Tigers, but was promoted to the AA SeaWolves after hitting .405 with 32 RBI and three home runs.
It's a move Castellanos told his high school coach he was determined to make before the all-star break.
"He's the ultimate hard worker and he has the attitude that he's going to do whatever it takes to succeed," said McCarthy coach Rich Bielski, who took his players to visit Castellanos in Lakeland this past spring. "The determination he showed this year was amazing. He said, 'Coach, I'm going to hit so well they won't have any choice but to move me up by the all-star break. Now he's playing in the Futures Game."
Castellanos said he's unsure when his next promotion may come with the Tigers, but he's doing his part to stay ready. He told reporters at the Futures Game that he's begun doing pregame outfield work with the SeaWolves.
It's a move that could help him eventually crack into the lineup in Detroit where former Marlin Miguel Cabrera is playing at third base.
"It's no hard-core instruction. They just said for me to get familiar with it," Castellanos said. "It's getting out there and getting familiar with the outfield. I played outfield my freshman year of high school. If it gets more serious, then I guess we'll find out how it feels. I have no say when they bring me up. I can just do my part—play well and force their hand. That's what I'm thinking about. I have to take care of what I can control."Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun