Name: Fabio Castillo
Position: Starting Pitcher
DOB: February 19, 1989
Fabio Castillo helped kick-start the Rangers' recent push in the Latin American free agent market when he signed with the club for an approximate $250,000 in the summer of 2005.
Though Castillo is just 19-years-old, he has been on the radars of baseball fans and personnel for a few years. The Dominican pitcher initially burst on to the scene when he traveled to Atlanta and attended Perfect Game USA's National Showcase. It was there that the 16-year-old – who weighed in at 6-foot-3, 195-pounds and has certainly grown larger since – displayed his 93 mph fastball and three offspeed pitches. Castillo earned a rating of 10 – Perfect Game's highest for a pro prospect.
After beating out the Yankees, Mets, Braves and Red Sox for Castillo's services, the Rangers chose to bring him along slowly. The righty made his state-side debut with the rookie AZL Rangers in 2006, striking out four batters and surrendering just one hit in three scoreless innings. But the Rangers sent Castillo back to the Dominican Republic after the game, feeling he was not ready to be away from home for such an extended period.
Castillo finished the '06 campaign with the DSL Rangers before taking a major leap forward the following summer. The prospect skipped the AZL altogether and played his 2007 season with the short-season Spokane Indians. As one of the youngest pitchers in the Northwest League, Castillo impressed scouts with his big body and impressive raw stuff despite posting a 5.92 ERA in 14 starts.
The Rangers moved Castillo up one level in 2008, as he spent the entire season with the Low-A Clinton LumberKings. Playing in his first full season, Castillo spent the year shifting between the bullpen and starting rotation in order to limit his innings and simply because he was being outperformed by the rest of Clinton's crowded rotation. By year's end, he had compiled a 5.28 ERA in 90.1 innings. Over that span, Castillo yielded 88 hits, walked 47, and fanned 78.
Also See: Clinton vs. Beloit Quotebook (June 25, 2008)
Repertoire: Fastball, Curveball, Changeup.
Fastball: Castillo's fastball has been all over the radar [both figuratively and literally] the last couple of seasons. The prospect has reached the mid-90s in the past [as early as 16-years-old], but he sat around 88-92 mph with Spokane in 2007. Still, scouts raved about the late movement Castillo got on his fastball, making it tough for hitters to square up. While the right-hander occasionally worked between 90-93 mph in games last summer, his velocity also dipped into the 83-86 range at times. Even when throwing hard, Castillo had lost much of the late life that allowed his heater to be successful the year before.
The dropoff and inconsistency in velocity is not too surprising considering Castillo's young age and that it was his first full season. Conditioning was an issue for the youngster last summer, and it's something that he will have to improve for the future. Castillo's mechanics were also often out of whack, as his body tended to fly open after the apex of his leg kick. The motion left him relying almost solely on his arm and shoulder to deliver the pitch.
Other Pitches: Many experts – including us – have called Castillo's breaking ball a slider in the past, but the Rangers maintain that it's actually a hard curveball. Castillo's curve is often mistaken for a slider because it has flattened out over the past couple of seasons and sits in the low-to-mid-80s. The offering once showed swing-and-miss potential, but it has done more spinning than breaking of late. His changeup command did take a significant step forward in '08, but he often throws the pitch too hard. Castillo's change is still a work-in-progress. The hurler also featured a low-80s splitter before joining the Rangers' system, but it was taken away shortly after he signed in 2005. There is no word on whether the Rangers will allow him to throw the splitter in the future.
Projection: Although the 2008 campaign wasn't particularly positive for Castillo, it's far too early to give up on him. Castillo still has loads of raw talent, and his big body and potentially dominant fastball make him a solid starting pitching prospect. He may not be as polished as the Rangers had once thought – so it should take a few years to bring him along – but Castillo doesn't turn 20 until late-February. There is plenty of time for him to right the ship.
2009 Outlook: Castillo will probably repeat the Low-A level with Hickory in 2009. One would have to figure the Rangers would rather keep him in a starting role for an entire season now that he's been able to slowly adjust to full-season ball. However, the Rangers may still prefer to limit his workload, which could mean he'll make an occasional move to the bullpen.
|2006||DSL Rangers (DSL)||1-4||26.0||21||12||37||3.46|
|AZL Rangers (RK)||0-0||3.0||1||2||4||0.00|