And his first impression of the states was a positive one.
"I have had a good impression of the United State since I came here," Simon Castro said through an interpreter. "Everyone I have talked to has liked it and I have to."
It helped that he retired the side in order his first time out, tossing strikes and whiffing one.
He spent the 2006 season in the Dominican Summer League (DSL), striking out 58 in 46.2 innings.
Touted as one of the most promising young prospects to come out of the Padres' Dominican contingent, Castro was pretty pleased with his performance in the DSL.
"I had my highs and lows but did pretty well overall," he said.
More importantly, he knows how far he has come since he was first signed by Felix Francisco and Randy Smith.
"Since I signed I have thrown a lot better," Castro admitted. "My velocity is up and I am throwing a lot more strikes. I am consistent now and will keep on working."
His main goal when he came to the US revolved around throwing strikes. Just 31 percent of his first pitches were called for strikes over his 6.1 innings this fall. So, while the first outing stateside was one to remember, the rest are easy to forget. He walked 13 and allowed 13 hits – not quite what he had in mind in front of the coaches in Arizona.
He was looking to clean up his mechanics and not open up too early in his delivery – and the obvious, throwing strikes.
Despite his struggles, Castro remained defiant to the pressure of pitching in front of such a large group of the Padres' brass.
"I didn't feel the pressure like most people do," he said. "I felt good – no pressure."
Besides the fastball, the right-hander is working on his slider and changeup so he can continue to be a starter when 2007 rolls around.
He remains a longer range prospect but his fastball, his poise, and his attitude are already earning him praise.