The Cincinnati Reds acquired right handed pitcher Luis Castillo on Thursday afternoon. Castillo came over from the Marlins as a part of a trade for Dan Straily.
When the season began the Marlins assigned Luis Castillo to Advanced-A Jupiter. In his first two starts he allowed one run over 5.0 innings with a combined 10 strikeouts and two walks. On the 18th against Clearwater the then 23-year-old tossed 6.0 shutout innings with two strikeouts. Things slowed down in the final two starts of April for Castillo. He was charged with five earned runs in 7.2 combined innings with a walk and seven strikeouts. For the month he posted a 2.66 ERA in 23.2 innings. He allowed one home run, walked four and had 19 strikeouts.
Luis Castillo rebounded well from the tough finish in April. In the first two starts of May he allowed two total runs in 10.0 total innings with just one walk and eight strikeouts. On May 16th he took on Tampa Bay and gave up two earned in 6.0 innings. That wound up being his worst start of the month. On the 21st the right hander tossed 5.0 shutout innings with five strikeouts. The month ended with one run over 6.0 innings against Palm Beach. At the end of the month he had posted a 1.67 ERA. Over 27.0 innings he allowed just three walks and had 23 strikeouts. He also didn’t allow a home run.
June began on a rough note of sorts. In 4.0 innings he only allowed one earned run. He didn’t strikeout anyone out and had three walks in the start. A week later he returned to the mound and struck out one in 4.0 innings. That was followed up by another 1-run, 4.0 inning start. On the 23rd he came back and fired 5.0 shutout innings with four strikeouts. The final start of the month was a rough one for Luis Castillo. Against Bradenton he allowed five runs in 4.1 innings with two walks and four strikeouts. For the month he posted a 3.38 ERA in 21.1 innings with five walks and 11 strikeouts. The strikeout rate dipped, significantly, but he didn’t allow a home run and had a good walk rate.
July began with the best start to this point in the season for Luis Castillo. He tossed 6.0 shutout innings with no walks and eight strikeouts against Fort Myers. That was followed up with two straight, 2-run and 5.0 inning starts. On the 20th the right hander took on Daytona and allowed just two hits in 6.0 innings with seven strikeouts. To finish the month he allowed one run over 6.0 innings against Charlotte. In 28.0 innings he had just three walks and 31 strikeouts to go with a 1.61 ERA. The strikeout rate recovered and the walk rate was minuscule.
August was a bit of a weird on for Luis Castillo. He was traded on July 29th to San Diego, but was returned to Miami when Colin Rea wound up needing surgery after just one appearance for the Marlins. That led to him going nearly two weeks between starts. He returned to the mound on August 7th and allowed a run in 5.0 innings with a walk and 2 strikeouts. On the 12th he took on the Cardinals for the second straight start. Castillo threw 7.0 shutout innings with a walk and three strikeouts. In what would be his final start in the Florida State League he allowed a run in 5.2 innings. Six days later he was in Double-A Jacksonville starting against Chattanooga. He tossed 6.0 innings and allowed just one run with a walk and four strikeouts. The right hander struggled against some of his future teammates the next time out against Pensacola. He walked four batters with five strikeouts in just 3.2 innings. The final start of the year saw him allow four runs in 4.1 innings with two walks and three strikeouts. Over the final five weeks he posted a 2.27 ERA in 31.2 innings. He allowed one home run, but had 10 walks and just 19 strikeouts.
In his first full season as a starter, Luis Castillo performed very well. While he was likely benefiting from the pitcher friendly ballparks in the Florida State League, he took home the league honors for Pitcher of the Year. His innings total of 131.2 was a big step up for him and he remained healthy all season long. There were some consistency issues, particularly when it came to his strikeout rate in a given month, but when he was on, he really performed well and when he was a bit off, he still was rather successful.
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Luis Castillo Scouting Report
Fastball | The pitch works 95-97 MPH, even later into the games. It topped out at 101 MPH during the season and he even hit 100 MPH in his second to last start of the year against Pensacola. The velocity is elite, but the pitch does lack movement and can be a bit straight.
Slider | His main secondary offering, the pitch tends to be average most of the time. When it’s at it’s best it shows itself as above-average to plus. It’s a shorter breaking ball that works in the mid-to-upper 80’s.
Change Up | It can be a solid pitch that shows some fading action in the 84-87 MPH range. It’s a clear third pitch, and he doesn’t use it as often as his others. It is better than I expected based on previous reports versus what I saw show up in his three Double-A starts that I was able to go back and watch.
Luis Castillo is a tad older than most pitching prospects who only have three starts above A-ball. His career started late, not pitching as a professional until he was 19-years-old. His first two years were spent in the Dominican Summer League, where he was older than most players. He’s moved rather quickly since coming to the United States in 2014, jumping straight to Low-A and reaching Double-A this past year.
2016 was just his first year starting full time. That transition meant a very limited pitch count. He only had three starts all season in which he threw 85 pitches and never topped 91 pitches in a game. Fifteen of his starts were under 80 pitches. The good control helped him rack up a decent amount of innings despite being on such a limited pitch count, but if he’s going to remain a starter, he’s going to need to up his pitch count and rather soon.
If everything works out, Castillo looks like he could be a #2 starting pitcher with two well above-average to plus pitches and a solid enough change up to go along with good control. There’s a ways to go before he gets to that point. Being able to handle a full load of innings for a starter is still a big step he will have to show he’s capable of, and his slider and change up will both need to find more consistency to reach that.
The fallback plan would be to ship him back to the bullpen where you could let a triple digit fastball and good slider work with good control to pitch out of the back of the bullpen. That’s not nearly as valuable as the starting version, but it’s still plenty valuable.
There’s a good floor with Luis Castillo as a hard throwing reliever, but there’s plenty of ceiling there as well. The risk comes with just how far he has to come as a starter at this point. He will be 24-years-old for the 2017 season and he’s likely to begin in Double-A and essentially still building up stamina to be able to throw 6+ innings on a regular basis.