Dodger Prospect #40- RHP Jesus Castillo

While Bill Shelley is on medical leave, we continue our series, taking a look at his top Dodger prospects as we count down to the very best. Today- Prospect #41, OF Anthony Raglani.

"Precocious" was the predominant word used for Jesus Castillo despite being drafted well down the line (27th) in 2003. He was a draft and follow, the Dodgers signing him after he had spent a year at Pima Junior College in Arizona. But that was just the start of his travels.

A Mexican native who attended high school in the United States, his home town was Nogales, just over the Arizona-Sonora border. And since he was in the U.S. on a student visa, he needed a work visa to stay and play professional baseball.

The Dodgers did he only thing they could, sending him to the Dominican Summer League to start his career. The club found out just how good he was when he went 4-1, 1.90 over 10 starts in the Dominican.

Now with a work visa, he skipped over the Gulf Coast League and elbowed his way onto the Columbus starting staff. After six games, five starts, he had a 2.96 earned run average and had allowed opponents a skimpy .205 average. But elbow problems shut him down at that point and he underwent Tommy John surgery.

He moved to Ogden in 2006 and started 14 games later in the season. It looked like he had overcome the arm problem and Bill Shelley named him LADugout prospect number 21 and it looked like he was going to be a name to be remembered.

But 2007 was a tough one for him. He started the season at Inland Empire strongly and, excluding his first start that lasted only two innings, was tough over his next nine starts, striking out 7.7 per nine innings and recording an average Game Score of 60 and an ERA of just over two runs per game. He stopped Rancho Cucamonga on two hits over seven innings and didn't allow an earned run on May 29.

But from that high point, the second half of his season was pretty much downhill. Over his final 12 starts his earned run average jumped to 7.67 and his strikeouts dropped off almost two per nine innings.

He started 22 times and relieved in six more, earning a save in each one, but recording a 6-9 record and a 4.78 ERA. For the first time, he allowed more hits than innings pitched and opponents hit .278 against him.

The season wasn't a disaster, but was certainly not up to his usual standards. He was 10th overall in earned run average, sixth in innings pitched, 10th in hits allowed per nine innings and sixth in walks per nine innings, but well over his normal average.

Did he wear out in his first full minor league season? That's the question the Dodgers are asking. He'll probably return to Inland Empire, a tough pitcher's league, in 2008 and the question will be answered on the field.

His complete record:
Jesus Castillo	   br  tr  6-1  193
 b-May 31, 1984
Obtained- Selected in the 27th round in 2003
year	team    w-l  era   g   gs   in    h   bb  so  ave
2004	SDom	4-1  1.90  11  10  42.2  29   9  34  .191
2005	Col	1-2  2.96   6   5  24.1  18   7  28  .205
2006	Ogden	2-5  2.88  14  14  72.0  65  25  55  .241
2007	InE	6-9  4.78  28  22 130.0 144  40  97  .278