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Diego Castillo gets set to begin his second season advanced in all areas of his game.

TAMPA, FL -- Eighteen-year old Diego Castillo may be one of the youngest minor league players for the New York Yankees but doesn't play like one and he is quickly making a name for himself as he begins his second professional season.

It's tough to have a better rookie season than Castillo had in 2015.  During his debut season last year he collected 40 RBIs, had 79 hits in 56 games, eight triples, 43 runs, and 106 total bases in just 239 at-bats. In addition, Castillo also ended the 2015 season with an overall .331 batting average, a .373 on base percentage, and a .444 slugging average.

The biggest thing the young shortstop learned after finishing his first season with the Yankees, however, was the importance of having the right attitude while on this team.

“My rookie season was valuable to me because I learned a lot and I was productive, but with this team the number one thing is about respect,” Diego Castillo said though the help of a translator. “And I learned that last year.”

The teenager out of Venezuela is having no problem adjusting to life in the minor leagues either according to Pulaski hitting coach Edwar Gonzalez. Despite being so young, Castillo is actually further ahead than most shortstops right now.

“There’s no difference, his defense is better than most shortstops we have here right now,” Gonzalez said.

A big contributor to Castillo’s impressive defensive skills is his coordination out on the field. According to Gonzalez, one of the toughest things to master at this level for shortstops is syncing your hands and feet together.

“At this level it’s a lot of getting your hands and feet to work together, and he does that well already,” Gonzalez added.

During the off season Castillo did focus on one major area of his game, improving his overall strength and getting bigger. Castillo practiced up in Orlando for some time during the offseason working with other minor league players and some big league players as well, including Tyler Wade and Rob Refsnyder.

"I got together with them, and tried to learn as much as I could,: Castillo said, "but my main focus during the off season and during Spring Training was getting stronger."

It doesn't hurt picking the collective brains of older players and Castillo’s work put into achieving this goal seems to be paying off, said Gonzalez. He has worked a lot on his improving his batting too, and it’s only a matter of time until his whole game comes together.

“He has a great ability, it’s just a matter of him getting even stronger and maturing psychically,' Gonzalez said. "You’ll see a lot more impact on the ball as he gets older, cause he’s already got the hand-eye coordination.  He’s just young."

Castillo already looks like he may be a little closer to this goal, as he has been training very heavily over the offseason, even putting on a little weight.

“I gained a little weight. I feel a lot stronger because of the work I put into the offseason,” Castillo said. “So I feel like I showed up this season ready to go, and stronger than I did last season.”

The team is working on helping to improve Castillo’s game by giving him more experience this upcoming season. Playing more games will not only help improve Castillo’s game but it will also allow him to experience high pressure situations.

“Let him play more games,” Gonzalez said. “That’s how young guys learn, by playing and I think that’s all he really needs.”

Castillo seems to be heading down the right path for the Yankees according to Gonzalez. For the point he is at in his career Castillo is on track to accomplish great things down the road for the organization and in the case of his hitting coach he believes it’s just a matter of time.

“I think right now he’s in a very good position, as well as playing defense and running the bases, so there’s not much else you could ask of him at this stage in his career,” Gonzalez concluded.


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