Dodger Prospect #14- RHP Jesus Castillo

The word "Precocious" was on everyones lips when they spoke of Jesus Castillo after he was drafted in the middle of the pack (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.

6-1 178 BR TR
Born- May 31, 1984 in Nogales, Mexico
Obtained- Signed as a free agent January 31, 2003

As a Mexican native who attended high school in the United States, his home town was Nogales, just over the Arizona-Sonora border. But 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 miniscule .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 late in the season. It looked like he had overcome the arm problem and Bill Shelley named him the 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, 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 an overall 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 were asking. Well, he showed them, recording a 7-4, 3.24 record with Jacksonville. He wasn't yet up to pre-injury form, allowing 123 hits in 114 innings and a .280 average, but his season was a strong one and he was rewarded by being placed on the Dodgers 40-man roster.

Chances are he will be elevated to the Albuquerque roster for the 2009 season and with the Dodgers vowing to go "young", could have a shot at the 2010 staff if he keeps on improving.

Jesus Castillo

year	team     w-l   era   g   gs   in    h  bb  so   ave
2004	SDom	 4-1   1.90  11  10   43   29   9  34  .191
2005	Colm	 1-2   2.96   6   5   24   18   7  28  .205
2006	Ogden	 2-5   2.88  14  14   72   65  25  55  .241
2007	InE	 6-9   4.78  28  22  130  144  40  97  .278
2008	Jax      7-4   3.24  23  23  114  123  33  76  .280  
 Totals         14-15  3.73  71  64  340  350 105 256  .251