Brandon Saad: The Blackhawks’ Starlin Castro
Starlin Castro is quickly becoming the face of the Chicago Cubs franchise, sporting good speed and a high batting average to go along with his youth. Castro, now 21, was just 20 years old when he made his Cubs debut on May 7, 2010, in which he broke an MLB record for RBI’s in a debut with 6 as he hit a 3-run home run off Homer Bailey in his first career at-bat and then proceeded to hit a bases-loaded 3-run triple two at-bats later to complete the feat. In 2011, Castro became the youngest player to ever lead the National League in hits, as he recorded 207 hits and had his jersey from the final game of the season sent to the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, his second jersey to be sent there (the first was from his MLB debut).
Unfortunately, Castro comes from an organization that is renowned for losing and not having won a championship since 1908. However, the Chicago Blackhawks are a winning team that won the Stanley Cup in 2010. With players like Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp, Marian Hossa, Duncan Keith, and Brent Seabrook, it would be pretty hard for any young player to even dream of becoming the face of the Hawks. What those young players can do though, is to add another piece to that core built on speed and youth.
At the phenomenally low age of 18, Brandon Saad became one of the youngest Blackhawks ever when he played on the first line with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Sharp in the season opener at Dallas. Saad was just drafted this off-season, but has already made the NHL team. He made no stop at A-level hockey, as the Blackhawks do not have an affiliate in the AAHL, FHL, or SPHL. He also completely skipped AA Toledo and AAA Rockford. Whether he stays in Chicago or eventually does go to the minors has yet to be determined. Castro, on the other hand, is definitely here to stay in Chicago, but he took a slightly different route to get here. Castro was not drafted, as the MLB does not currently hold an International Draft, but he managed to catch the Cubs’ eye and sign at age 16. He then spent 2 seasons playing in the Dominican Summer League and then made it all the way to AA Tennessee the following season. Even then, Castro was no stranger to the spotlight, albeit a smaller one, as he hit an inside-the-park home run in the A+ Florida State League All-Star Game and was named MVP of the game. Castro impressed in Spring Training in 2010, but was ultimately optioned to AA Tennessee. H didn’t stay there long though, and was called up a month later, skipping AAA.
Both Saad and Castro made it to the majors at a very young age, but it did take Castro longer. Is it a benefit to Castro that he took that route? Or will Saad benefit from being thrown under the spotlight right away?
Castro and Saad play completely different sports in completely different atmospheres, but both in one city. Both play the game with speed, and both have bright futures ahead of them. Castro is the face of the Chicago Cubs, perennially batting .300 or higher with decent power and stealing 20+ bases and is the core of the Chicago Cubs. Saad also uses his speed, and is looking to make an impact to be part of the larger core of several star players on the Blackhawks.