Player Report: Yeiper Castillo at the Caribbean Series
As big leaguers begin to report to Mesa, Ariz., for the start of Spring Training, we at Vine Line had our eyes on a new farmhand who took the mound for Venezuela in the Caribbean Series. Signed in December, right-hander Yeiper Castillo is a former Red Sox prospect picked out of free agency. He also marks yet another acquisition of a player who underwent arm surgery—on his shoulder in 2011. It’s a minor move, so to speak, but we were eager to take an extended glimpse of him Tuesday on ESPN Deportes.
Castillo went 4.2 innings, allowing two runs on three hits, a walk and eight strikeouts against Puerto Rico. He threw five pitches from a three-quarters arm slot: a 90-91 mph fastball with natural run, an 87-90 mph sinker, a low-80s change, a mid-80s slider and a 78-81 mph curve. Both his change-up and sinker were able to get swings and misses as they ran low and away from lefties, and his 12-to-6 curve did too when located low on two-strike counts. His slider looked like his weakest pitch, though he did use it throughout the game.
Though Castillo threw a lot of strikes (50 of 75 pitches), his command was inconsistent. He sequenced his pitches and had a game plan to work low and away from hitters. When he did, he successfully kept hitters off balance or hitting the ball on the ground. But he also had a habit of missing up over the plate, with one 3-2 fastball being yanked for a home run and others not being taken advantage of because of his change of speeds.
Castillo stands a fairly thick 6-foot-3, though he doesn’t have power stuff. He threw 137 innings in his first season back from the shoulder injury, and he’s picked up another 45 (with an ERA under 3.00) in winter ball. He’ll be 24 this season, and he could be an interesting depth arm if he can improve his command post-surgery.