Late brother inspires LA prospect Castellanos

Late brother inspires LA prospect Castellanos

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Alex Castellanos, who has slugged homers each of the last two Dodgers games, is playing out his dream while playing in the memory of his older brother, who died 4 1/2 years ago in a Miami boating accident.

Ozzie's Angel Foundation was established to teach children to swim, and Castellanos still volunteers in the tradition of his late brother, who was a 23-year-old lifeguard off duty when he fell out of the boat in which he was riding, then was run over by that boat.

"I do what I can to help teach the kids when I'm home," said Castellanos, ranked No. 13 among the Dodgers' top prospects. "The foundation was started by our family because teaching kids to swim was my brother's passion. We also want to educate people about safe boating practices."

The Dodgers acquired Castellanos in last summer's trade with the Cardinals for Rafael Furcal. He hit a combined .320 with 23 homers and 85 RBIs last year then went to the Arizona Fall League, but strained an oblique and was sent home.

Undrafted out of high school because he said scouts considered him too small, the 6-foot, 195-pound Castellanos was taken by the Cardinals in the 10th round out of little Belmont Abbey College as a second baseman before being moved to third, then the outfield. Now 25, he was having his best season last year when he was traded.

"I was kind of shocked," he said of the trade.

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said Castellanos will primarily play at second base this spring to determine if he should be groomed to follow Mark Ellis, who signed a two-year contract. Castellanos is ticketed for more seasoning at Triple-A but has the spring to make an impression on his new club.

"He'll see more time at second," Mattingly said. "We need to find out if he can play it."