(WSCR) One of the few enjoyable things for Cubs fans this season has been watching Starlin Castro develop as a player. The Cubs’ 21-year-old shortstop has the third best batting average in the National League.

“I think Castro is going to be just a wonderful player,” Steve Stone said on the Mully and Hanley Show. “And at this point he wants to learn as much as he possibly can. If that continues, he will continue to get better. What I saw from him in the Arizona Fall League, as a 19-year-old, I just absolutely loved. He wasn’t missing pitches. And at that point, he wasn’t doing as well as I thought he would do becuase he was putting a lot of pitcher’s pitches in play.”

Much like Castro this season, back then he had such great hand-eye coordination that he could make contact with pitches that other hitters would miss. The downside of his tremendous plate cover then, as well as now, is that he’d put a pitcher’s pitches into play for an easy out.

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“Now, he’s gotten a little more selective,” Stone said. “I know he’s not going to be a guy that walks a whole lot. … But if you make a mistake, right now he hits it very hard and he hits line drives. As he gets older, bear in mind he’s 21-years-old, he’s going to get stronger, he’s going to get a little bigger.

“As he gets older he’s going to understand what pitchers are trying to do with him. And those line drives that go in the gap right now, are going to start going out of the ballpark.”

Although Stone doesn’t think Castro will be as big as Don Baylor, he does see potential for him to develop power in the same way. And that’s not the only comparison Stone uses to describe how Castro’s power could develop.

“Ryne Sandberg was a line drive hitter when he came into the league,” Stone said. “You know, he was a two-hitter. He hit behind the runner, he’d hit triples down the line in right field. And then all of a sudden got a pretty good idea about what pitchers were going to do with him and started hitting home runs.

“I don’t say that Castro is going to hit 40 [home runs]. Whether he goes into the Hall of Fame or not is a test of time, but he’s going to be terrific, and I think it’s going to be as a third baseman. I think he’ll do a reverse Cal Ripken.”

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