He sits in front of a locker within the Tigers spring clubhouse, donned in jeans, dark gray hoodie, and black goatee. It's a cosmetic package that makes Nick Castellanos appear older than 20.

Athletically, and probably emotionally, he has acquired some crust. He could even crack the roster coming out of spring camp if the Tigers were like the Tigers of 10 years ago, when any kid with a spoonful of talent and a means to sell tickets was welcomed to Detroit.

But this is a different Tigers team. A championship contender. A place where kids, even those as blessed as Castellanos, can be groomed and delivered at peak time. Where they can wait their turn as they learn a position neither Castellanos nor the Tigers ever imagined would be in his future: left field.

"This is my second big league camp, so I'm not feeling my way around," Castellanos was saying last weekend, ahead of a workout at the Tigertown compound. "I'm enjoying the journey to the big leagues."

Castellanos is projected to play in Detroit at some point this season. The timetable is in step with forecasts made in 2010 when a powerhouse right-handed-hitting prospect turned down a Miami scholarship and signed a $3.45 million deal with Detroit.

Less known are other chapters and anecdotes from the Castellanos file.

Begin with how the Tigers came within seconds of losing him at the Aug. 15, 2010, midnight signing deadline. At 11:55 p.m., the Tigers believed they and their penthouse draft pick had hit a wall. In their minds the family's contract demands were excessive, even for an owner as accommodating as Mike Ilitch.