Is Starlin Castro the next Derek Jeter?

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While the headlines from Cubs camp this spring have focused on Carlos Zambrano and Carlos Silva, Patrick Mooney at CSN Chicago has a nice feature on the guy who, more than any other, may catapult the Cubs back into relevance in the NL Central: Starlin Castro, who is being compared to Derek Jeter in Chicago, both from a marketing perspective and from a developmental perspective:

The marketing department at 1060 W. Addison St. wants to promote Starlin Castro as the next Derek Jeter. They paired the two homegrown shortstops on billboards modeled after heavyweight prize fights: Cubs vs. Yankees, June 17-19 at Wrigley Field … Cubs baseball staffers use the Jeter analogy in a much different context. They tell you to look up how many errors Jeter committed in the minors. That tension between patience and expectations can be felt through the entire organization.

The marketing stuff is fluff. Ultimately he’ll be no more marketable than his on-field performance allows him to be.  As for that performance: despite some defensive struggles and a come-to-Quade meeting regarding his focus this spring, Castro seems ready to break out. He was hitting .485 with a .500 on-base percentage and an .848 slugging percentage through this past weekend.

More significantly, he destroyed Double-A pitching last year and more than held his own as a 20-year-old in the bigs.  That’s roughly the same course Jeter took, though he didn’t truly produce in the bigs until his star-making age-22 season. In terms of production, Castro is a bit ahead of Jeter, actually.

There are big things coming from this guy.