The 2011 season has been all about new experiences for Venezuelan right-hander Jeiler Castillo. Castillo is in his first season as a member of the Oakland A's organization after spending five years with the Houston Astros.
Before the 2011 season, Castillo had spent all of his career (save three innings of work) either in the Venezuelan Summer League or the Rookie-level Appalachian League. This year Castillo made the jump to full-season ball for the first time, pitching for the Low-A Burlington Bees at the start of the season.
After eight innings of work during which he walked nine batters, Castillo landed on the DL with a right ankle sprain. Once he was healthy, he was reassigned to the short-season Vermont Lake Monsters, for whom he has pitched since Opening Day of the New York-Penn League season.
Command continued to be an issue for Castillo early on with the Lake Monsters, but over his last 26.2 innings, he has walked only six after walking five over his first two appearances (spanning one inning of work).
Donald Moore spoke with Castillo during a recent Lake Monsters' road-trip through Troy, New York.
Donald Moore: How is everything going so far this year?
Jeiler Castillo: This year has been pretty good for me. I'm working everyday you know on my stuff and mechanics. I had bad luck five [outings] ago, but now I'm pitching really good, so I have to keep it going. I'm working hard everyday, so far it's pretty good.
DM: What is your greatest strength?
JC: My fastball and I'm confident in my slider. I try to throw my pitches down in the location for ground balls. So I'm working on that everyday.
DM: Any pregame routine?
JC: Well, no.
DM: Any hobbies off the field?
JC: I like talking with my friends and my teammates. So they are pretty good with me. Now on this team, there are three Latin guys you know, so I like talking to them and with the American guys, make friends. I have a lot of friendships. So far it's good.
DM: Favorite team growing up?
JC: The Atlanta Braves.
DM: Favorite player?
JC: Ryan Howard.
DM: If there is one person who taught you the most about baseball, who would that be?
JC: I don't know, I'm not sure right now.
DM: Craziest thing you ever saw on a baseball field?
JC: I've seen a lot of stuff, but my clubbie from my old team took a golf cart and drove around the field between the game. That was very crazy.
DM: In five years from now, where do you see yourself?
JC: In the major leagues.
DM: Thank you Jeiler.