Alberto Jose Callaspo
- Bats Both, Throws Right
- Height 5' 10", Weight 175 lb.
Alberto Callaspo was signed as a free agent by scouts Carlos Porte and Amador Arias out of Venezuela for the Anaheim Angels in 2001. He began his professional career with the 2001 DSL Angels, hitting .356, third in the league, and tying Ricardo Santiago for the league lead with 98 hits. He slugged .447, stole 14 bases and scored 55 times. Callaspo made the league's All-Star team at shortstop. Promoted to the Provo Angels in 2002 and moved to second base, Alberto batted .338/.374/.488 with 10 triples and 70 runs in 70 games. He led the Pioneer League in runs, triples and hits (101), was fourth in average and led second basemen in put-outs (134), assists (207), double plays (93) and fielding percentage (.972). He made the league All-Star team.
Callaspo was sent to the Cedar Rapids Kernels for 2003 and continued to hit, at .327/.377/.428 with 20 steals in 26 tries, 38 doubles and 86 runs. He drew 42 walks while striking out just 28 times in 514 AB. Baseball America rated him the 7th-best prospect among second basemen and Midwest League managers picked him as the 11-best prospect in the league. He led the MWL in average, runs and hits (168). He made the All-Star team at second base. In three years, he had made the All-Star team and led the league in hits every season.
Alberto was with the Arkansas Travelers in 2004 and hit .284/.338/.376 with disappointing results on the bases (only 15 for 29 in steals). Moved back to short, he led Texas League shortstops with 200 put-outs and got the most at-bats in the league (550). Managers picked him as the 10th-best prospect in the league and Baseball America rated him as the #10 shortstop prospect.
In 2005, Callaspo returned to the Travelers and hit .297/.346/.406 as the second baseman. Making it to AAA at age 22, he hit .316/.345/.448 for the Salt Lake Stingers. He made the Texas League All-Star team at second base. On March 1, 2006, he was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks for Jason Bulger and was assigned to the Tucson Sidewinders. He hit .336 with 12 triples, 5 homers, and 61 RBI in 104 games with the club. In August of 2006, Callaspo was called up by the Diamondbacks, and he made his big league debut on August 6th. He finished 7th in the US-based minors in average. Baseball America rated him as possessing the best strike-zone judgment and being the best defensive second baseman in the Pacific Coast League. He won the PCL batting title; James Loney hit .380 but this drops to .336 when one adds enough plate appearances for him to qualify. He made the PCL All-Star team at second base. Callaspo was 10 for 42 with the 2006 Diamondbacks.
In 2007, Callaspo struggled, only batting .215/.265/.271 in 56 games for the Diamondbacks, though he hit .341/.406/.491 in 59 games for Tucson. He also had off-the-field issues. He was arrested and charged with misdemeanor assault during a disagreement with his wife and suspended by Arizona for a period.
In the Venezuelan Winter League, Callaspo hit .331/.394/.422 to finish fourth in average behind Jose Castillo, Gregor Blanco and Eliezer Alfonzo. Callaspo batted .346/.414/.385 for the Tigres de Aragua in the 2008 Caribbean Series. He was one of the few MLB-experienced players who did not leave the team after the Venezuelan season ended.
He was traded to the Kansas City Royals for Billy Buckner on December 14, 2007. In July of 2010, his original organization traded Will Smith and Sean O'Sullivan to the Royals to re-acquire him. On July 30, 2013, the Angels traded him to the Oakland Athletics in return for Grant Green. In spite of all the moves, and his propensity to change positions as well, Callaspo managed to have at least 500 plate appearances in five consecutive seasons, from 2009 to 2013. 2009 was his most productive season, as he collected 173 hits and batted an even .300 as the Royals' starting second baseman. He had hit .305 in part-time play in 2008, but was unable to maintain his batting average at such a high level over the next few years, topping out at .288 with the Angels in 2011. Following his trade to the A's, he became a sort of super utility player, and in 2014 played 127 games divided between second base, DH, first base and third base. However, he hit only .223 that year, in spite of spending much of his time in positions where a good bat is a must. Part of the problem is that his weight had gone up in recent years, and that he was showing the ill effects. After going 1 for 6 in the 2013 Division Series against the Detroit Tigers, he did not start the 2014 Wild Card Game against the Kansas City Royals, but was successful in a pinch-hit appearance in the 12th inning, singling against Jason Frasor to drive in Josh Reddick from third base with the go-ahead run. He would have been the game's hero, except that the A's were unable to hold the lead in the bottom of the inning, giving up two runs as the Royals came out on top, 9-8, eliminating Oakland from the postseason.
On December 9, 2014, Callaspo signed a free agent contract with the Atlanta Braves for one year and $3 million, pending a physical exam. He was considered a potential starter at second base. he played only 37 games for the Braves in 2015, however, seeing most of his action at third base and hitting .206, before he was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers on May 27th. He originally blocked the trade, as was his right as a player having signed as a free agent during the off-season. He changed his mind after thinking about it for a day, though, and headed to Los Angeles along with pitchers Juan Jaime, Eric Stults and Ian Thomas while 3B Juan Uribe and P Chris Withrow went the other way. In Los Angeles, he was looked at as a back-up infielder, as the purpose of the trade was to give more playing time to Justin Turner and rookie Alex Guerrero at third base.
Callaspo is a bit of a throwback, as a switch-hitter whose main strength is making contact and rarely striking out. He is by no means a slap hitter however, as he has hit 10 homers in a season four times, and as many as 41 doubles in a season - although that was a one-year aberration, since he has more often hit around 20 doubles. He also has less speed than would be expected, with a career high of 8 stolen bases, and not hitting any triple from 2011 to 2014.
Main sources: 2002-2007 Baseball Almanacs