I was at the Nat this past Friday, enjoying the sunshine and baseball. No beer for me though, Friday was about work. Which entailed charting the Canadians starter, 19 year old Dominican right-hander, Miguel Castro. Making his home debut, Castro was nothing short dominant. I know I tend to swoon over prospects I see live, but that was the best C’s pitching performance I’ve charted, which includes Tom Robson‘s 6.1 innings of shutout ball to beat Boise in last year’s Northwest League final. I think I’m in love.
For those that don’t know Castro, he’s a 6’5″ 190 pound beanpole who was signed for $180,000 in 2011. Making his pro debut in the Dominican complex league in 2012, Miguel started to generate some prospect buzz late last season after transitioning state side in August. At 6’5″ and skinny, people are always going to talk about projectability. He was already hitting the low 90s with his fastball though and, unlike many Latin American prospects, had a feel for the strike zone, posting 1.8 BB/9 rate over his three stops.
With both Alberto Tirado and Jairo Labourt struggling in Lansing before being demoted, Castro is the only member of this years Canadians ‘Big 3’ starters to have his prospect status in the ascendancy.
Yesterday’s start will only burnish his reputation. It may not have contained the wow factor that was Roberto Osuna‘s 13 strike out debut, but he was relentlessly efficient. Not something you often see at this level.
Castro threw 69 pitches on the day, 48 of them for strikes. He relied mainly on his fastball, throwing it 52 times with 15 sliders and 2 change ups (C’s pitching coach Jeff Ware had 4 changes on his chart, I won’t quibble). Of those 52 heaters, 41 were for strikes. He hit 98 on the stadium gun a few times while sitting in the 95/96 mph range for the start. There wasn’t much velocity separation between his 2-seamer and 4-seamer and both had some nice arm side run and sink. Ware did mention that this is something they will work on as Castro gets to know his still developing body.
I’m no biomechanical expert, but his delivery looks pretty easy. He does throw across his body a bit as his front foot get planted to the third base side. I’ll try and get some video the next time and ask someone who knows a bit more about these things.
The slider was inconsistent but the good ones were very good. Only 6 of the 15 were strikes (4 swinging). I put stars next to a hand-full of them as they had great depth and serious break. In fact, one of the best was his last, as it fooled both the hitter and umpire, and should have been called strike three.
The poorer ones were slurvy, not getting a ton of depth and hitters were able to pick up on them early. These pitches were generally in the upper 70s velo wise. Speaking to Ware, the slider is still a bit of a work in progress. They want Castro to throw it more over the top, with a tighter spin and a velocity in the 81-84 mph range.
As the fastball was working so well on the day, Castro had little need for the change. Ware told me it wasn’t a bad pitch for him, calling it a ‘modified’ circle change. I look forward to a start where he throws it more often.
Of the four hits Castro gave up on the day, only one was well hit. Seth Spivey‘s first inning double was s cue shot that landed just behind third and spun into foul territory. The next two singles were both jam shot flares the other way, with one broken bat. In fact, Miguel’s fastball was moving so much I counted five broken bats overall.
Castro’s delivery didn’t change much from the stretch and the stuff was still there. In fact, his stuff didn’t deviate much at all, even over the 14 pitches he threw in his final inning. Even that late, he was still mainly clocking in at 94 mph.
Obviously, considering I’ve basically just written a 600 word love letter to him, I was impressed with the C’s Dominican righty. Being so tall and thin there is a ton of projection still left for a kid that can already hit 98 on his fastball. If he carries on controlling it like he did Friday while getting a bit more consistently tighter spin on his slider then we have a seriously good prospect on our hands.
His next start at home should be Monday. I’m away. Am gutted.