Name: Fabio Castillo
Position: Starting Pitcher
DOB: February 19, 1989
Fabio Castillo has been on the radar of big league organizations for a long time, even before he signed with the Rangers in the summer of 2005.
At 16 years of age, Castillo traveled to Atlanta from his native Dominican Republic to participate in Perfect Game USA's National Showcase. At the camp, Castillo checked in at 6-foot-3, 195-pounds and threw 93 mph fastballs to go along with an excellent low-80s slider. Perfect Game ranked Castillo as an elite prospect as a 16-year-old.
When it came time for Castillo to sign with a club, the Rangers found themselves in competition with the Yankees, Mets, Braves and Red Sox. The Rangers ended up signing the right-hander for a bonus in the neighborhood of $250,000.
Castillo spent most of the 2006 season pitching in the Dominican Summer League, but the Rangers did bring him to the states for one appearance in the rookie-level Arizona League. The right-hander gave the Rangers a glimpse of his potential by tossing three scoreless innings, allowing one hit and fanning four.
The Rangers chose to let Castillo skip the Arizona League altogether in 2007 and sent him to short-season Spokane after holding him in extended spring training. Castillo's Northwest League numbers were far from dominant, but he was one of the youngest players in the league at 18. The hurler was able to hold his own by showing impressive stuff and a good feel for pitching in the advanced league.
Also See: Sizing up the right-handed pitching prospects (October 16, 2007)
Repertoire: Fastball, Slider, Changeup.
Castillo doesn't possess the upper-90s fastball that some of the Rangers' other recent Latin American signings have, but he does have the most advanced overall repertoire. The hurler's fastball sits in the low-90s and has plus movement. He does have the ability to dial it up into the 94-95 mph range when needed. Castillo's ability to work down in the zone, plus his fastball's movement, kept him from being hit hard last year. He allowed just four home runs in 62 innings. Castillo's slider, which works in the 83-86 mph range, is his strikeout pitch. His changeup is little more than a show-me offering right now and he is working to improve it.
Projection: Castillo projects to have two plus pitches in the Majors, leaving his changeup to be the primary pitch in question. With his durable body and hard fastball-slider combination, Castillo currently profiles as a mid-rotation starter, though he is obviously a long way off from the Majors. If he is able to develop his changeup into a plus pitch within the next few years, he could be a front-line starter. If he is unable to develop a changeup at all, Castillo could be a nice late-innings bullpen arm. To make a long story short, Castillo has a good arm with promising stuff and a high ceiling. But whether or not the 19-year-old reaches that ceiling is certainly in question.
2008 Outlook: The righty will likely spend the entire season with Single-A Clinton. At 19 years of age, he is one of the younger pitchers in the league and there is no reason for the Rangers to be rushing him along. The club had him begin the season by working out of the bullpen in an effort to limit his innings pitched and he has recently moved back into the starting rotation. Castillo will probably finish the season as a starting pitcher working with a relatively strict pitch count.
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