- Bruce Levine, Chicago baseball beat reporter
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If you need a reason to come out and watch the Chicago Cubs this season, he's playing shortstop and leading off.
Starlin Castro is starting to look like the baseball version of Derrick Rose at an early stage of his career. Skill, athleticism and the unexpected are all part of Castro's game at the age of 21.
Fellow Dominican -- and in some ways Castro's mentor -- Alfonso Soriano was looked at in the same way back in the 1990s.
"Every day he does something good for us," Soriano said. "It's something different always. When he hits, sometimes in the field, or on the bases, he's always doing something good. He has too much talent."
Soriano, who opened up his home to Castro last season when the shortstop was recalled on May 7th, has been a friend and a mentor since Castro's ascension to the big leagues.
Soriano was honest when asked if Castro has as much talent as he had at the same age.
"Not at 21", Soriano said. "He's better than I was at that age. Too good."
The Cubs shortstop leads the National League with 21 hits and is hitting .389, good for fifth in the league going into the Cubs' weekend series in Colorado.
Although most people want to talk about Castro's offense, his defensive plays on Wednesday were the keys to the Cubs' 9-5 win over the Houston Astros. Although he had three hits that evening, he also added four terrific defensive plays, and a stolen base.
"Hey, the Cubs are 2-0 when he steals a base," manager Mike Quade said. "He's really playing well. I think he had eight hits in the series. Not bad."
Since Quade moved Castro to the leadoff spot, he's 11-for-19 in four games. Although Castro has yet to hit a home run this season, his power stroke is there, according to one National League scout.
"He's getting bigger and stronger all of the time," the scout said. "A lot of baseball people think he'll track in a similar fashion to [Florida Marlins shortstop] Hanley Ramirez. "Ramirez didn't hit home runs until his second or third season in the big leagues. This kid might be the same way."
Cubs hitting instructor Rudy Jaramillo has been working with Castro, trying to help him recognize a ball from a strike.
"Plate coverage is so good, he can foul off any pitch", Jaramillo said. "We're trying to get him to better identify a ball from a strike. One thing we aren't going to do is take away any of his aggressiveness."
It's too early to put the All-Star tag on Castro, but it appears that day is coming fast for the Cubs' shortstop.