St. Louis Cardinals made infielder Alex Castellanos the first player to be
drafted out of North Carolina’s Belmont-Abbey in over 30
years. In the 10th round
of the 2008 MLB First-Year Player Draft, the team selected the Miami native with the
305th overall pick.
as “a poetic fielder and one of the more toolsy guys in the system” by
Instructional League Coordinator Mike Shildt, Castellanos would not have to
travel too far for his first assignment.
first stop as a professional with Johnson City, Castellanos hit .298/.354/.536
with seven home runs and 31 RBIs in 49 games. His twenty stolen bases was the
second-best mark while he ranked seventh in triples and tied for tenth in
doubles in the Appalachian League.
22-year-old was then promoted to Batavia to help the team in its playoff
drive. In 10 regular season games,
he slugged .500.
doing this interview with Alex, I found that we have something in common. We have both had a brother pass away
when he was way too young. Both
were with friends after celebrating youth but instead were taken way too
soon. When I shared our bond, this
was his response:
truly sorry to hear about the loss of your bother. I understand your pain.
Nobody should have to go through something like this. It has been difficult for me because he
was my only brother. He was not only a great brother but also my best friend. My
brother was killed in a boating accident on July 8, 2007 when he and 11 others
were on a boat spending a fun day at Elliott Key. When coming back to the
marina, the driver decided to play a joke and made a quick left turn knocking
him off the boat. They ran him over with the propellers and claim they didn’t
see him in the water. His lifeless body was found the next day. He drowned at
the age of 23.”
Castellanos informed me that since
the accident, his mother has been active in fighting for better boating laws in
Florida. Also, family and friends have created
the group called “Ozzie’s Angels” in memory of Osmany Castellanos. “Ozzie”, as
he was known to most, was a lifeguard and swimming instructor in Miami. According to their website, the mission
of Ozzie’s Angels is to provide children in poverty and children with
mental/physical disabilities the opportunity to learn how to swim.
Tell me about Alex Castellanos.
AC: I love dancing, working out, riding my jet
ski, and just chilling out with my family and friends. I was a very active kid
so to expend some of my energy, my parents signed me up to play T-ball at
Park at around age five. I
played baseball year round, summer and winter leagues. I attended Everglades
Elementary, West Miami Middle and Miami Coral
DM: You are from
baseball hotbed. How did you end up at Belmont-Abbey, located in a town with a
population of 8700?
After high school graduation in June 2004, I was asked to play summer ball with
Dade College. I enrolled in the college for the
fall semester and tried out but didn’t make the team. I joined a traveling team
called Team USA for Coach Nicolas. Coach Nicolas
invited Coach Smith from Belmont Abbey to watch us play. After the game, Coach
Smith said he enjoyed watching me and wanted me to be a part of his team. He
then asked me to visit Belmont-Abbey College. At first, I didn’t want to leave
Miami but the
opportunity was too great to pass up.
DM: You were the first player
from Belmont-Abbey to be drafted in 36 years. How does that feel?
I was happy, It was a great honor to be recognized for my achievements. It also
lets others see that we have great players in our school.
DM: When did
you first learn that professional scouts were looking at
During my sophomore year, my coach began receiving questionnaires from numerous
teams asking for personal information; i.e. height, weight, etc. Later in my
junior year my coach would tell me that scouts were present at games. Some of
the teams that I learned were there were the Cardinals, Mets, Braves, A’s, and
DM: When did the Cardinals come into the
I received a questionnaire from the Cardinals during my junior year and then
they came out to watch me play. In May 2008 they invited me to a workout.
DM: Tell me about draft day 2008.
I was at home in Miami on Thursday (Draft Day One) with family
and friends watching the TV. It was exciting and disappointing when I didn’t get
selected on the first day. On day
two, I was alone at home since both my parents had to work. I was watching the
draft on the Internet when my name was announced!
extremely happy and at the same time was sad because my brother, who always said
I would make it to the pros, was not here to share this moment with me. The
calls started coming in and within half an hour I had a full house of family and
friends to share in my joy.
DM: Like I mentioned above, you are from
South Florida. What team did you root for while
you were growing up? I know it would be easy to assume you would root for the
Marlins but looking at their attendance, there aren’t many who do root for
Growing up I always rooted for the Marlins. As a kid, my parents and their
friends would take the kids from our Little League team to the Marlins games. We
even attended some of the World Series games.
DM: You have played
second base and third base since becoming a professional. Which do you prefer?
Have the Cardinals informed you which position they see you at in the
Honestly, I feel more comfortable at second base because I have played the
position for many years. However, that doesn’t mean I would mind playing another
position. This was my first time ever-playing third base and I enjoyed playing
there too. When you love playing baseball like I do, I would play any position.
I am very grateful to the Cardinals organization for giving me the opportunity
DM: How were you informed that you were being promoted to
After playing a home game at around 10 PM, I was in the locker room when the
Coach called me into his office and told me congratulations and that I needed to
be packed and ready to board a flight at 6 AM the next morning to Batavia.
How does the New York-Penn League compare to the Appy
The NY-Penn league has a different and more intense level of
DM: What did you know about the Cardinals before they
I knew that they were a terrific organization that cared greatly for their
players and their fans. I had the opportunity to experience this the day I went
to the workout in May. It’s like an extension of my family.
What are your off season plans?
Workout and train, workout and train, workout and train to stay
DM: Could you please tell me about Ozzie’s Angels?
Ozzie’s Angel’s is a not-for-profit organization that was started by my
brother’s friends to help teach disabled children how to swim. My brother was a
lifeguard for Miami Dade
County, and on his days
off, he loved teaching children how to swim. Kids and swimming were his passion;
his friends decided to honor his memory with what he loved to
You will quickly learn there are thousands of Cardinal fans that follow the
organization’s minor league system with great interest. What should they know
about you that they probably don’t know?
I am a very shy and humble young man that loves to play ball. I am very low key
and talk very little until I get to know you.
appreciate Alex for taking the time to do this piece. Also, I thank him for sharing the story
of his brother, which I know, can be very difficult to do. For those interested in learning more
about Ozzie’s Angels can visit their website: http://www.myspace.com/ozziesangels
1 of 4 photos
Dustin Mattison can be reached via
email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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