Being a first-round draft pick is no picnic. Sure there's all that signing bonus money and hype. However, there are also minor league road trips and the immense weight of expectations.
The Tigers drafted Eric Munson with the third overall pick in 1999. The Tigers took him as a catcher, but it was his bat that got everyone's attention. Munson showed power across all minor league levels and had nice on-base numbers to boot. He looked like the real deal. However, when we arrived in Detroit, almost all positive traits fell by the wayside.
Nick Castellanos was taken in the first round, 44th overall, in 2010. Detroit was widely praised for their selection of a high school batter. Detroit was already in "win now" mode at this point, so taking a high school player was an interesting step from a development stand point. Like Munson, Castellanos played well at each level. Unlike Munson, a college player, Castellanos was always one of the youngest players in the league. Considering this fact, Castellanos looked all the more impressive. He showed good pop and good on-base numbers.
If both players were highly touted, played well in the minors and had the minor league system supporting them, how are we all sitting here today looking at two of the three players with the worst bWar in Tigers history by first round pick? Check out some of these parallels:
Those 855 plate appearances by Munson cover his time with the Tigers only. He had a couple cups of coffee later in his career with some other clubs, but this makes a straight up comparison of the two a little bit more fun. Granted, Munson didn't get regular playing time until he was 25, while Castellanos has been a regular since his age 22 season. So, maybe we can cut him a little bit of slack there. However, the similarities here are startling. By the time the Tigers gave up on Munson, he was seen as a bust. There haven't really been more than whispers of Castellanos being a bust, but maybe there should be.
Young players like Castellanos are often expected to struggle a bit. What the club and us fans would like to see are the improvements. He doesn't need to be Mike Trout or Kris Bryant, but some positives should be seen. However, through the first third of the season, most of Castellanos' numbers are down from his disappointing rookie campaign.
Castellanos has another 90-plus games this season to improve on these stats, so it's not time to panic. However, with the Tigers struggling to stay in contention, they need Castellanos to play less like Eric Munson and more like Travis Fryman.