One year ago, Toronto Blue Jays rookie Miguel Castro was in the news, having made the jump from A-ball to the Jays bullpen and opening the season in the closer role. That didn't last and he still holds official rookie status entering 2016, this time with his new team, the Colorado Rockies. He's in the majors again to open the season. Will he stick this time?
From the 2016 Baseball Prospect Book:
Miguel Castro, RHP, Colorado Rockies
Bats: R Throws: R HT: 6-5 WT: 190 DOB: December 24, 1994
2014: Grade C; 2015: Grade B-
Miguel Castro jumped from A-ball to the major leagues last spring, opening the season in the Toronto bullpen as the closer. He didn’t hold the job for long and was sent down to the minors eventually, but he wasn’t bad considering the circumstances. He was traded to the Rockies in the Troy Tulowitzki deal. Castro can hit 99 MPH and averages a stinging 96, mixing it with a slider and change-up. The secondary pitches aren’t as good as the heat and his overall sense of command and control needs work. He was clearly rushed last year and his status entering 2016 is unclear. There’s talk he may return to starting, but ultimately my guess is that he is best-suited to the pen. Either way he would benefit from a full season in the high minors. Grade B-.
Castro performed well in spring training 2016, throwing nine innings, allowing six hits and three runs, fanning nine with no walks allowed and picking up a pair of saves. He opens the year in a middle relief role behind closer Jake McGee. The lack of save opportunities (at least for now) reduces Castro's fantasy value, but in real baseball terms he's quite intriguing and in the long run he could still close games.
Castro's fastball is down a hair compared to 2015: he's maxed out at 97 this year rather than 99. However, that is still quite fast, he's making more extensive use of an improved slider, and his command seems considerably improved compared to a year ago. At least, his command looked better in spring training but the results from his first two regular season games (no runs, three strikeouts, but a pair of walks in 1.1 innings) add a bit of doubt.
My thinking pre-season was that Castro needed more time in Triple-A to finish developing his secondary pitches and command. He showed those improvements in March so it made sense to bring him north. Obviously we need a larger sample from the regular season to draw any broad conclusions, but my guess is that Castro has made real progress, if perhaps not as much as the 9/0 K/BB in the spring implies.
I suspect Castro will spend most of the season in the majors, but the complications of pitching in Colorado make him a a less attractive investment than he might otherwise be.