For the last two weeks, I’ve considered writing about Orlando Castro after each of his starts. However, two things usually happened. First, there would be someone else that would have a big night, warranting a write up. Second, I would say to myself “I’ll get Castro next time”. Castro has been excellent this year with the GCL Pirates, allowing two earned runs in 25 innings, with a 22:2 K/BB ratio. It seems like every time he takes the mound, he throws a gem.
The Pittsburgh Pirates signed Castro out of Honduras in 2009, their first signing out of the country. He started his career in 2010 in the Venezuelan Summer League, putting up a 1.17 ERA in 54 innings, with a 5.7 K/9 and a 2.3 BB/9 ratio. Castro was brought to the United States for instructional leagues after the 2010 season, and his career stayed in the US from that point. He pitched three shutout innings for West Virginia earlier in the year, allowing two hits and one walk, with no strikeouts. Since that point, he has been dominant in the GCL rotation.
Wilbur Miller saw Castro a few weeks ago, and had this to say about his performance:
Castro had an impressive outing, allowing no hits through the first four innings. The Braves finally got to him in the fifth on a hit batsman and two weak hits. Listed at 5’11″, Castro had surprising success with his fastball, which generally ran from 88-90, although he hit 92 at least once. He located it well to both sides of the plate and had enough movement to induce quite a few swings and misses, adding up to seven whiffs in five innings. He threw a few sliders and one curve that I saw.
Castro is a left handed pitcher, and turned 19 in March. The fact that he’s throwing 88-90, and touching 92 with good command is very encouraging, especially for a guy who comes from a country that isn’t known for producing many top baseball players. Castro also throws an above-average curve and changeup, which combined with his fastball, leads to his dominance of the lower levels. He might make it up to State College by the end of the year, and an aggressive push could see him in West Virginia by next year. He’s too far off to project, and like most prospects, his value will be determined by his fastball command, and the velocity that comes with it. I can’t see Castro becoming an impact player, but I don’t think he can be ruled out as a potential starter in the majors one day with the right adjustments and progression.