Starlin Castro is a tremendous talent who is just 22 years old.
His ability to make contact and get on base has not gone unnoticed, but his poor plate discipline is forcing Cubs manager Dale Sveum to try him in a few different spots to see if it will help him settle in.
Castro has struck out 43 times to just six walks and is already half way to his career high of 96 strikeouts in just over a third of the at-bats he had last season. Only a few players in the league have a worse K-BB ratio, even though he ranks 80th in strikeouts this season.
Cubs broadcaster Len Kasper made a comment that people really jumped on, suggesting that in a good lineup, Castro would be an above average seventh hitter. But the Cubs are hoping he can blossom into a potent top-of-the-order hitter who can get on base, put himself in scoring position and drive in runs.
The foundation the Cubs are building around them as of late certainly offers a glimpse in to a brighter future, especially with a young Castro, who is still maintaining a .300 average. If he can learn to be more patient, the pieces they have coming in will make for a speedy, power-driven lineup with hitters on both sides of the plate.
Best case scenario: In the next five years, we see a Cubs lineup that features Castro, Anthony Rizzo, Brett Jackson, Albert Almora, Jorge Soler and Junior Lake. I stress this as the best case scenario, but if you look closely, three are from the Hendry era, and three are from Epstein.
The Cubs are counting on Castro to help shape the lineup and be productive and give the guys behind him opportunities. If he continues to struggle at the plate, he may hurt the team at the top of the order.
Teams are already getting Castro to chase pitches, and if he can't slow things down at the plate, teams may begin to capitalize, and he could find himself mired in a slump. That is the last thing the Cubs need, especially because he is right behind Tony Campana with 16 stolen bases, tied for third best in the league. He is also second on the team in runs scored with 29.
If Anthony Rizzo can surge onto the scene and find a spot in the lineup, it will give Castro the opportunity to carve out a niche in the No. 2 spot.
More importantly, if the Cubs can find more players—inside the organization and outside—to spread run production around, it will take some pressure off of Castro to produce every at-bat and establish him in the top echelon of shortstops.