Albenis Castillo -- A Man Falsely Accused

You say you're sometimes confused about the Castillos in the Dodger system. Well, you're not alone. Even the statisticians have had their problems getting them straight. Consider the case of Albenis Castillo. For years he's been getting credit for things he never did and, conversely, in the department of dubious distinction, being hung with a rap he wasn't guilty of.

Check his stats for 2002. According to the official record book, he pitched in two games for South Georgia in the South Atlantic League -- eight innings -- without giving up a run. Nice, but he didn't do it. No, actually that was one Marcos Castillo, now departed but then on a rehab assignment in that league. Albenis had spent the summer in the Dominican League.

Last year he finally did make it to the South Atlantic loop where, if you can believe the records, he not only pitched but played five games at first and 15 at third. My, my, how versatile. Did he really? A teammate who was asked, replied incredulous,"Have you ever seen him try to hit? He might be the worst hitter in the organization."

No, again, for in this case it was Luis Castillo who was playing those spots in the field. Albenis, thankfully, has been in leagues where the D.H. operates and has never been asked to swing a bat for real. But he is being called upon to pitch more and more and that he's doing rather well.

This member of the vast Castillo clan is from Panama where he was spotted by Gustavo Zapata, who checks out that country for the Dodgers, and Doug Carpenter, who was then the overseeing scout for Central America. "He's got a good arm and I think an upside," said Doug at the time, adding a disclaimer, "but he's awfully raw and it will take time."

Doug knew his man. Albenis began his career in the Venezuelan Summer League in 2001 when the Dodgers were providing players for a team there. He had a 3-2 record but a very uninspiring 8.51 ERA. Still, there was that good arm so he was sent to the Dominican League in 2002 where the results weren't much better, if any -- 2-5, 4.82. You can see why he wasn't called upon for any duty in the South Atlantic League that year despite what the record books say.

In 2003, though, he began putting it all together. Coming across the sea to the Gulf Coast League, he improved to 2-1, 2.72. That got him up to the SAL for real in 2004 but a 1-1, 5.21 mark bumped him down to Ogden where he was little better at 2-2, 5.01.

All this time he was learning how to pitch, something he's been demonstrating at an increasingly proficient rate for Columbus. He began the year as a set-up man but has gradually moved into the closer's role. Name a pitch and he seems to have it -- a two and a four-seam fast ball, a slider, and a curve.

He picked up his fourth save the other night. He currently sports a 2.48 ERA and despite the fact that it's his fifth year in the organization, this righthander is still only 21 years old.

He's finally making a name for himself-a long one. That's Albenis Enrique Gonzalez Castillo, standing on his own record at last and doing it rather nicely, for sure.

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