Padres Prospect Interview: Simon Castro

FORT WAYNE, IN: Of all the lower level pitching prospects, the one that gets the San Diego Padres development staff the most excited is Simon Castro, 21, the big right-hander out of the Dominican Republic.

"The guy that I am pleased with the most is Simon Castro. He has eliminated walks from his game, his velocity is up and he's on his way to being a potentially dominant pitcher," said Grady Fuson, the Padres vice president of scouting and development.

At 6-foot-5 and a solid 225 lbs., the long-limbed Castro is a load. He has a strong sinking fastball that sits in the low-90s, but his development of the changeup is what has moved him to the next level.

What has separated him from others is his mental approach to the game. Despite not knowing a word of English when he signed with the organization at 16, he is not not only comfortable enough to give interviews in the language but also serves as a translator and teacher for his Spanish-speaking teammates.

You have improved quite a bit since you first signed with the Padres. What has been the aspect of your game that you have improved upon the most?

Simon Castro: In the beginning, I didn't have good location and command of my pitches, but I started to listen to my pitching coaches as much as I could and tried to work hard at what they taught me.

Your fastball command has been great but everyone talks about the development of your changeup. How has being able to throw the changeup more effectively improved you as a pitcher?

Simon Castro: The changeup is a great pitch and a tough one to hit. It is so important for every pitcher, but especially me. Right now, I can throw the pitch when I am down in the count in fastball counts and it really throws the batter off.

Your fastball comes in around 92 to 94 mph and you throw a four-seamer or two-seamer?

Simon Castro: I throw both, but my two-seamer is better it has more life and is more difficult to hit.

Is it more difficult to control?

Simon Castro: Sometimes, but I really practice it a lot so I feel pretty good when throwing it.

You throw a fastball, change and slider. What is the most difficult thing about throwing your slider?

Simon Castro: I have pretty good control of my slider, but sometimes I try to do a little too much with it. The slider is a nice pitch for me to help me with my three pitch sequence, to change what the batter is expecting.

Everyone in the organization is impressed with your talent, but what impresses them the most is how advanced mentally you are. You signed with the organization at 16 without speaking a word of English and now you are doing interviews. Has that helped your development?

Simon Castro: Yes, it is like I said, it helps me when I'm trying to learn. It is really the only way that I could learn to get better from listening to all the coaches that we have here. I can improve much more quickly which I think I have.

Each year it appears that as you go to a more difficult league, your performance also improves. Do you see yourself improving not only physically but mentally?

Simon Castro: Yes, I think because baseball is more of a mental sport. If you are strong in the mind, you won't be afraid to throw any pitch.

Which pitch do you need to improve on the most to get to the next level?

Simon Castro: I need to improve on my fastball command, so I can put it on either corner whenever I want. Also, I want to improve my changeup so I can control it better.

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