Celestino was ranked No. 15 on MLB Pipeline’s Top 30 international prospects list for the 2015-16 signing period and the Astros snatched him up for $2.5 million right on July 2. He was in his fourth summer of pro ball in 2018, in the short-season New York-Penn League, when the Twins acquired him in the Ryan Pressly deal close to the Trade Deadline. His full-season debut in 2019 started slowly, but he turned it on in the second half with a .938 OPS leading to not only a late promotion to the Florida State League, but a spot on the Twins’ 40-man roster.
After hitting just .219 in April and May combined in 2019, Celestino really started getting rolling in mid-June and put up huge numbers in July and August as proof. The right-handed hitter made adjustments to his load, his stride and lower half at the plate, which led to these gains, and there’s still untapped potential with his bat. He’s even starting to show more power than he had previously and has more strength he could grow into. He runs well enough to steal some bases as well.
All this means that his bat is starting to catch up to his glove. He’s long been one of the best defenders in the system, with fantastic range, excellent instincts and a strong arm. That always gave him the chance to be a big league regular, but if the offensive gains are for real, he has the chance to have more impact than anticipated.
Scouting grades: Hit: 55 | Power: 40 | Run: 55 | Arm: 55 | Field: 60 | Overall: 45
The Astros were aggressive on the international market during the 2015-16 signing period, handing out five bonuses of six figures or more. Celestino was the prize acquisition and got a $2.5 million bonus to sign out of the Dominican Republic after starring for a number of youth teams in international competition. He had made it to the short-season New York-Penn League in 2018 and was thriving there when he was sent to the Twins as part of the Ryan Pressly deal.
Celestino finished the rest of the summer in the Appalachian League and the coaching staff in Elizabethton felt he was one of the best defenders they've seen at that level. He has tremendous instincts in center field with an above-average arm, allowing him to play a plus center field despite not being a burner speed-wise. The bigger question is whether his bat can catch up to his glove. He has shown plenty of ability to make contact, but it's a more line-drive to the gaps oriented approach right now. Some of that is because of his swing path and some of that stems from his need to add strength.
Just 20 for all of the 2019 season, there's plenty of time for Celestino to grow into some power, and he has the bat speed to get there. If that part of his game develops, he could be a dynamic regular playing up the middle.
Celestino performed well for Dominican teams at a variety of international tournaments, including the 2011 Cal Ripken World Series as a 12-year-old, the 2013 Pan American 15-and-under championships and the 2015 National High School Invitationals. His combination of tools and polish earned him a $2.5 million bonus from the Astros in 2015. He made his U.S. debut at age 17 in 2016 and held his own as one of the youngest regulars in the Rookie-level Appalachian League last year. He was making another strong step up to the New York-Penn League in 2018 when he was sent to the Twins in the Ryan Pressly deal.
Celestino has done nothing to dispel the Albert Almora comparisons that started when he was an amateur. They're both skilled center fielders with strong arms and instincts that stand out more than their pure speed, and their hitting ability is more promising than their power potential. The biggest difference between the two is that Celestino is less physical, and he still needs to prove he can make enough impact at that plate to become an everyday player in the big leagues.
A rare player who bats right-handed but throws left-handed, Celestino has a handsy stroke that sprays line drives to all fields. He has the bat speed to reach double digits in home runs, though he'll need to continue to add strength, incorporate his lower half into his swing and hit more balls in the air to get there. He has solid speed and the savvy to steal bases.
Scouting grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 40 | Run: 50 | Arm: 55 | Field: 60 | Overall: 45
Though he's still a teenager, Celestino has a long track record at performing at international events such as the 2011 Cal Ripken World Series (when he was 12), the 2013 Pan American 15-and-under championships and the 2015 National High School Invitational. His combination of tools and aptitude led the Astros to sign him for $2.5 million out of the Dominican Republic in '15. He came to the United States at the end of his 2016 pro debut, when he was the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League's youngest regular (age 17) in the final month.
Scouts constantly liken Celestino to the Cubs' Albert Almora, and the comparison works on multiple levels. They stand out most as skilled defenders in center field whose instincts help them play well above their average speed, and their hitting ability is more impressive than their power potential. They may not have lofty ceilings, but they have high floors and should become solid contributors in the big leagues.
A rare lefty thrower who hits right-handed, Celestino has an advanced feel for hitting and walked (25) more than he struck out (23) in his introduction to pro ball in the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League. He has a quick bat and could grow into average power as he matures physically. He shows some savvy on the basepaths and owns a strong, accurate arm.
Scouting grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 45 | Run: 50 | Arm: 50 | Field: 60 | Overall: 45
One of the more advanced players in the 2015 international class, Celestino has a long track record of performing, both at international events such as the 2011 Cal Ripken World Series (he was 12) and the 2013 15-and-under Pan American championships and during game action in the Dominican Republic. Impressed by his aptitude, the Astros signed him for $2.5 million last June.
He impresses scouts with his ability in center field, drawing comparisons to the Cubs' Albert Almora because he's a quality defender despite just average speed. Celestino has tremendous instincts, reading balls off the bat and taking direct routes to chase down balls from gap to gap. His average arm strength plays up too because he gets rid of the ball quickly and makes accurate throws.
A rare lefthanded thrower who hits right-handed, Celestino has a quick bat and feel for hitting. While his swing can get long at times and there was less scouting consensus about his bat than his glove, Houston believes that he'll make consistent contact and could have average power once he matures physically.
Scouting grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 40 | Run: 50 | Arm: 50 | Field: 60
Celestino's favorite player is Angels center fielder Mike Trout, and he tries to pattern his overall game after the 2014 American League Most Valuable Player.
Known for his athletic ability and instincts in the outfield, Celestino is projected to start in center field and likely stay there as he develops because of his speed, arm and his ability to get good jumps in the outfield. He's lean but is expected to fill out as he matures. Scouts like his makeup and expect him to reach his potential once he signs with a team and receives daily instruction.
One of the most polished players in the class, Celestino is known as a "gamer" because he has a track record of success in tournaments in the Dominican Republic. He's gained a reputation as one of the better game players in the class, despite varying opinions on his some of his tools.
Celestino signed a $2.5 million deal with the Astros.