Padres Prospect Interview: Simon Castro

San Antonio, TX: Going into the 2010 season, Simon Castro was's number one ranked prospect, and so far, he has not disappointed.

The Padres took the slightly unusual move of skipping him from Low-A Fort Wayne to Double-A San Antonio in 2010. Through mid-June, the 6-foot-5 Dominican right-hander had allowed only 22 earned runs in 70.1 innings pitched for a 2.82 ERA in 12 starts. Castro, 22, features a hard two-seam fastball with good movement, a four-seamer that he can bring up to the mid-90s, a very good slider and a developing changeup. While everyone loves the physical tools that he brings to the table, what separates Castro from most pitchers is his unrelenting work ethic and desire to improve both on and off the field.

For example, when the Padres first signed him he spoke no English and no he serves as a translator for many of the team's Latin American players.

It is a big jump going from Fort Wayne to San Antonio. What has been the biggest challenge for you so far?

Simon Castro: The easiest answer is the hitters, they are a lot better. But I am also learning a lot, and, hopefully, it is making me into a better pitcher to get to the next level.

The biggest difference must be that you can't automatically throw the fastball when you get into hitter's counts.

Simon Castro: That is right because hitters up here know what they are doing. When you get behind in the count you have to make good pitches, the biggest thing is to really locate it or they are going to hit it real good.

What has been your biggest improvement from last year?

Simon Castro: I think my fastball command is much better, especially on the corners. I'm also using my changeup more and feel better about throwing it in hitter's counts.

You keep talking about becoming more of a pitcher than a thrower. It seems like even though you like getting the strikeouts its more important for you to go deeper into the games.

Simon Castro: Its much different now than last year. I am looking for more ground balls and trying to get outs in less than three pitches. Now, I'm looking for double plays and one-pitch one out, but I still like the strikeout too.

How do you like hitting?

Simon Castro: [laughs] Oh yeah. I've had a couple of at-bats so its kind of fun.

You haven't hit in a competitive game since you were in the Dominican and now you have to face Double-A pitching? That must be quite an adjustment.

Simon Castro: [laughs] Yeah, its kind of different the ball is moving a little faster than I remember.

We kind of talked about this in spring training about how hitters don't like this park for the wind. So you finally think that this is a fair park?

Simon Castro: [laughs] Yes, I like this park very much. So far this is the best park for pitching that I have played in and I'm pretty happy to be here.

Who is the most underrated player on the team?

Simon Castro: I think everyone here is very focused on what they are doing and paying attention to the game. Everyone is trying their best so its really hard to pick just one guy.

That is a great political answer.

Simon Castro: [laughs] Hey, my English is getting better all the time.

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