- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 19, 2014

PEORIA, Ariz. (AP) - Alex Castellanos had been removed from a spring training game last week and was watching the final innings on a clubhouse TV when San Diego teammate Yasmani Grandal came to bat.

“What was he like at Miami?” a Padres staff member asked Castellanos. “You were his roommate, right?”

Castellanos quietly explained that while he grew up in Miami, he was never Grandal’s roommate. He’s not even an ex-Hurricane.

Castellanos‘ road to the big leagues was much rockier.

He was once cut by Miami - Miami Dade - that is. He wound up at a Division II school in North Carolina, then nearly quit following the death of his brother, Osmany.

He eventually became the first Belmont Abbey product to play in the majors since 1933.

“Every day I play for my brother,” Castellanos said. “He always knew I could make it.”

It’s why the 27-year-old has maintained his resolve after an offseason that saw him traded (by the Dodgers), cut twice (by the Red Sox and Rangers) and claimed off waivers by the Padres on March 7.

“I think there’s a part of him that wants to be an everyday big leaguer so he won’t let his brother down,” said Kermit Smith, his college coach. “And that’s the only the thing that will mean success to him.”

This spring he’s played second, third, all outfield positions and has been used as a pinch runner. He played second, third and center in the same game earlier this month.

“He looks comfortable wherever you put him,” Padres manager Bud Black said.

Castellanos was scrawny, undersized and a mediocre student growing up and wasn’t recruited. He went to Miami Dade, a junior college, but his grades were poor and he didn’t make the team.

He was playing in an amateur summer league when Smith, then the coach at Belmont Abbey, went to one of his games to watch a pitcher. Castellanos was batting ninth.

Smith later called his assistant coach, Chris Anderson, who asked if they had found their needed arm.

“No,” Smith told him, “but I just found the Division II Babe Ruth.”

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