ORLANDO CASTRO, LEFT HANDED PITCHER
|Born: March 17, 1992
Height: 5′ 11″
Signed: Int. FA, Pittsburgh Pirates, 2009
How Acquired: Int. FA
WTM’S PIRATE PLAYER PROFILES
|Castro is a small lefty who signed out of Honduras, which is not a hotbed for baseball talent. You always have to be very cautious about small lefties in the lower minors, because a surprising number put up impressive stats despite subpar stuff. Call it “Nelson Pereira Syndrome.” Castro is a finesse pitcher whose stuff has been erratic. In the GCL in 2011, he threw 88-90, topping out at 92, in at least one game. Later in the season, pitching at State College, he was only in the mid- to upper-80s, and the same was true in spring training in 2012. He also throws a slider and curve. He was a flyball pitcher in 2011 and, to a lesser extent, in 2012.
Castro dominated the VSL, although he didn’t fan a lot of hitters.
Opened in extended spring training and went to West Virginia for one game as a fill-in after the Power had a couple of lengthy extra inning games. He then headed to the GCL Bucs for the start of their season. He dominated there, with a .209 opponents’ average and just two walks in five starts. The Pirates moved him up to State College, where he was much more hittable, opponents batting .290 against him. Nevertheless, he moved up again to West Virginia, probably because the Power were limiting the innings of some of their pitchers and a couple were hurt or had been promoted. Castro had gopher ball problems there, allowing four in 15.1 IP. He also struck out fewer than he walked.
Castro opened the season in the West Virginia bullpen. He pitched decently in April, but started getting hammered in May, posting an ERA of 8.16. The Pirates sent him back to extended spring training at the beginning of June; I’m not sure whether he was hurt. He eventually pitched a few times for State College, then went back to West Virginia in mid-August. He pitched well after his return, allowing just eight hits and two walks, and fanning 15, in 13.1 IP. Right-handed batters hit about 60 points higher against him than left-handed batters.
Castro started off the season in the West Virginia rotation and dominated there, with outstanding numbers apart from a somewhat low K rate. The Pirates promoted him to Bradenton in late June and his numbers dropped off significantly across the board. Castro struggled through four starts, with opponents batting .360 against him, before the Pirates moved him to the bullpen. He fared much better in nine relief outings, although he also missed a little time with an injury. On the season, he was nearly unhittable against left-handed batters, holding them to a 200/227/235 line, although that covered only 88 plate appearances. Right-handed hitters did much better against him, especially at Bradenton, where they hit .309.
Castro went back to Bradenton to pitch as a starter and was outstanding there. He walked very few hitters and had a WHIP below 1.00. The Pirates moved him up to Altoona in mid-July. He struggled through two starts and then went on the disabled list for the rest of the year with left shoulder soreness. He eventually had labrum surgery in October. On the season, he had a reverse platoon split, holding right-handed hitters to a .596 OPS while right-handed hitters managed a .723 mark. His K rate at Bradenton was low, which obviously is a concern.
Castro was eligible for the Rule 5 draft for the second time, but wasn’t added to the roster and wasn’t selected. The shoulder surgery, as it turned out, kept him out all season.
Hopefully, Castro will be ready by spring 2016. Even if he’s healthy, as a small, finesse lefty who doesn’t miss a lot of bats, he’ll have to prove himself at every level. The injury also raises the question whether he’ll be durable enough to remain a starter.
|2016: Minor League Contract|
|Signing Bonus: N/A
MiLB Debut: 2010
MLB Debut: N/A
MiLB FA Eligible: 2016
MLB FA Eligible: N/A
Rule 5 Eligible: Eligible
Added to 40-Man: N/A
Options Remaining: 3
MLB Service Time: 0.000
|September 20, 2009: Signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates as an international free agent.|