Castillo Wraps Up Solid Year

The 24-year-old pitcher is a veteran of the Mets' organization, playing at five levels in four years. Castillo has assumed a wide variety of roles among pitching staffs, but attacks each season with a plan. Inside Pitch spoke with the right-hander about his successes and shortcomings as his first full year with a long season squad comes to an end.

It was July 1 and Jonathan Castillo had made 18 rather average relief appearances 35.2 innings pitched with a 5.91 earned run average. Mired among the readily used and battered Savannah bullpen, the 5-foot-11 reliever spent his time maturing his tools and adapting what he soaked in from his coaches throughout the season.

"All year, I was working on my mechanics trying to improve the way I just go out and pitch,' he said. "I was working with the coaches and we noticed that my mechanics were off. Everyday we've been working because I did struggle through a lot of the first half."

His ill-timed mechanics set off a rash of ineffectiveness and made his repertoire regress. He lost the ability to spot his fastball and his varying arm angles caused his curveball and changeup to flatten out. Hitters soon got the best of him by spraying hits around the park and Castillo's value decreased.

"Because I wasn't throwing first pitch strikes and not developing my curveball as an out pitch, I was allowing a lot of baserunners. I was being too fine around the plate and on the corners," he explained.

For Castillo, he knows his progression simply relies on the old adage of consistency, with every hitter, with every pitch.

"It's all about getting it consistent and I consider that the most important thing for myself and every player. I need to do the same thing pitch after pitch with anything that I throw."

However by mid-July, all which he had tinkered and altered in his mechanics finally cracked. A seemingly normal one inning relief caught the eye of his manager Tim Teufel and that appearance got him started on an impressive streak. In his next appearance he made his first start of 2007, giving up three earned runs in six innings. After another relief appearance, he was back out to start and he shut down the Augusta GreenJackets for seven scoreless innings.

He attributed the sudden turnaround to a rather unorthodox adjustment. To settle on a correct and stable arm angle, Castillo deliberately began to pitch from the stretch, all the time.

"For the first couple months, with no men on base, I would typically pitch out of the full windup. But for the last couple months, I've been doing everything out of the stretch, even with the bases empty, which was a huge change," he detailed.

"It was a shift in my approach to batters and it helped balance my weight and speed up my motion on the mound. It helped my concentration and helped make my delivery and release quicker. The first game I pitched like that, it worked really well."

How well did it work? Including the prior relief appearance, the start versus Augusta, and through four more appearances, Castillo compiled a 19.1 inning scoreless streak. It included another dominating start when he blanked Hickory for six innings on August 4.

"We decided to go hard day after day on my mechanics," he said. "Most importantly, the work has helped me keep my fastball down, and quality pitching comes first from being able to do that."

From that point forward, he has remained in the rotation taking the spot of Matt Durkin or Josh Stinson, both whom were moved to the bullpen as a late season safeguard. He is focused to not waste an opportunity such as this.

"I was a starter a couple seasons ago, so I have a taste of it," he said. "As a product of moves made by the coaches, I have the opportunity to be in the rotation and I'm trying to make the most of it."

The wheels did eventually slow down for Castillo. His scoreless streak was snapped and in his last four starts he has surrendered 12 earned runs in 22.1 innings pitched. While the kinks get ironed out, his repertoire still has its flaws which have prevented him from putting all of his tools together this season. Specifically, his changeup needs to come along. If he is to fulfill his own goals of starting long term, that second off-speed pitch is critical.

"I need to introduce my changeup, especially since I've been starting more. In the first half, I was relieving and most of the time I was just using my fastball and curveball. But now, I need to add in more pitches to stay successful," he explained.

"I like starting a whole lot. I could say that my game suits me better as a starter since I have that feeling that I can be pitching six or seven innings at one hundred percent and control the flow. I think I'd prefer that to coming in for one inning, giving it all and maybe not getting the results I want."

As for his views on 2008, if he can demonstrate marked progress come spring time, chances are he will move up yet another level. Yet, he will most likely stay relegated to his hybrid role due to his unpolished repertoire. Nonetheless, Castillo will still hold the positive attitude which has carried him to this point.

"I'll be shooting for the same thing I did this year. I'd like to gain on the success I've had since this year's All-Star Break. I need to work on the consistency of my changeup and fastball. To be successful, first, I have to master my fastball and then everything else. My goal for next year will be to try and get a starting role somewhere and then work my way to the top," he closed.


Amazin Clubhouse Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\nIt was July 1 and Jonathan Castillo had made 18 rather average relief appearances 35.2 innings pitched with a 5.91 earned run average. Mired among the readily used and battered Savannah bullpen, the 5-foot-11 reliever spent his time maturing his tools and adapting what he soaked in from his coaches throughout the season.
\r\n
\r\n\"All year, I was working on my mechanics trying to improve the way I just go out and pitch,' he said. \"I was working with the coaches and we noticed that my mechanics were off. Everyday we've been working because I did struggle through a lot of the first half.\"
\r\n
\r\nHis ill-timed mechanics set off a rash of ineffectiveness and made his repertoire regress. He lost the ability to spot his fastball and his varying arm angles caused his curveball and changeup to flatten out. Hitters soon got the best of him by spraying hits around the park and Castillo's value decreased.
\r\n
\r\n\"Because I wasn't throwing first pitch strikes and not developing my curveball as an out pitch, I was allowing a lot of baserunners. I was being too fine around the plate and on the corners,\" he explained.
\r\n
\r\nFor Castillo, he knows his progression simply relies on the old adage of consistency, with every hitter, with every pitch.
\r\n
\r\n\"It's all about getting it consistent and I consider that the most important thing for myself and every player. I need to do the same thing pitch after pitch with anything that I throw.\"
\r\n
\r\nHowever by mid-July, all which he had tinkered and altered in his mechanics finally cracked. A seemingly normal one inning relief caught the eye of his manager Tim Teufel and that appearance got him started on an impressive streak. In his next appearance he made his first start of 2007, giving up three earned runs in six innings. After another relief appearance, he was back out to start and he shut down the Augusta GreenJackets for seven scoreless innings.
\r\n
\r\nHe attributed the sudden turnaround to a rather unorthodox adjustment. To settle on a correct and stable arm angle, Castillo deliberately began to pitch from the stretch, all the time.
\r\n
\r\n\"For the first couple months, with no men on base, I would typically pitch out of the full windup. But for the last couple months, I've been doing everything out of the stretch, even with the bases empty, which was a huge change,\" he detailed.
\r\n
\r\n\"It was a shift in my approach to batters and it helped balance my weight and speed up my motion on the mound. It helped my concentration and helped make my delivery and release quicker. The first game I pitched like that, it worked really well.\"
\r\n
\r\nHow well did it work? Including the prior relief appearance, the start versus Augusta, and through four more appearances, Castillo compiled a 19.1 inning scoreless streak. It included another dominating start when he blanked Hickory for six innings on August 4.
\r\n
\r\n\"We decided to go hard day after day on my mechanics,\" he said. \"Most importantly, the work has helped me keep my fastball down, and quality pitching comes first from being able to do that.\"
\r\n
\r\nFrom that point forward, he has remained in the rotation taking the spot of Matt Durkin or Josh Stinson, both whom were moved to the bullpen as a late season safeguard. He is focused to not waste an opportunity such as this.
\r\n
\r\n\"I was a starter a couple seasons ago, so I have a taste of it,\" he said. \"As a product of moves made by the coaches, I have the opportunity to be in the rotation and I'm trying to make the most of it.\"
\r\n
\r\nThe wheels did eventually slow down for Castillo. His scoreless streak was snapped and in his last four starts he has surrendered 12 earned runs in 22.1 innings pitched. While the kinks get ironed out, his repertoire still has its flaws which have prevented him from putting all of his tools together this season. Specifically, his changeup needs to come along. If he is to fulfill his own goals of starting long term, that second off-speed pitch is critical.
\r\n
\r\n\"I need to introduce my changeup, especially since I've been starting more. In the first half, I was relieving and most of the time I was just using my fastball and curveball. But now, I need to add in more pitches to stay successful,\" he explained.
\r\n
\r\n\"I like starting a whole lot. I could say that my game suits me better as a starter since I have that feeling that I can be pitching six or seven innings at one hundred percent and control the flow. I think I'd prefer that to coming in for one inning, giving it all and maybe not getting the results I want.\"
\r\n
\r\nAs for his views on 2008, if he can demonstrate marked progress come spring time, chances are he will move up yet another level. Yet, he will most likely stay relegated to his hybrid role due to his unpolished repertoire. Nonetheless, Castillo will still hold the positive attitude which has carried him to this point.
\r\n
\r\n\"I'll be shooting for the same thing I did this year. I'd like to gain on the success I've had since this year's All-Star Break. I need to work on the consistency of my changeup and fastball. To be successful, first, I have to master my fastball and then everything else. My goal for next year will be to try and get a starting role somewhere and then work my way to the top,\" he closed.
\r\n
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