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Diego Castillo isn't having the same success but progress is still being made.

TAMPA, FL -- Last year shortstop Diego Castillo was tearing through the Dominican Summer League, finishing with a .331 batting average. In his first professional season Castillo showed that he had major upside because he was able to create contact in most of his at-bats. He hasn't had quite the same success yet in his first taste of playing in the United States but that doesn't mean progress isn't being made.

This season, the 18 year-old Castillo added some strength and, coupled with his barrel accuracy and his love for the game, he continues to have a high ceiling in his professional baseball career.

Castillo has been working on getting stronger and becoming a better player defensively and offensively. However, the biggest adjustment Castillo felt like he had to make in Extended Spring Training earlier was with his strike zone discipline.

“I think my strikes zone discipline (was my hardest adjustment)," Castillo said through the help of a translator.  "It's really difficult because I want to hit fastballs. I see fast balls everywhere but I'm working on that.  I was ready and understood that my hitting wasn't very good, I was ready every day.

Castillo believes that he was able to take in a lot during his first Extended Spring Training, which not so coincidentally is also his first year in the United States.  He was very humbled at the experience and took this opportunity to really sharpen up on his defensive skills and his body.

“It (Extended Spring Training) was a good," he continued.  "It was a really nice experience because I played with really good players and I had fun, I liked that very much.  I worked on my defense, my hitting, but every day I was working on my body. I worked every day on defense [too], different drills.”

Hitting coach Edward Gonzalez has seen Castillo’s growth first hand, and sees the change that Castillo has continued to make from Dominican Summer League play last year to the GCL this season.

“He's very impressive," Gonzalez said.  "I saw him last year a little bit and to see him this year, his body has grown, he's put a few pounds on, he has always had the ability to control the barrel, he still has that with his strength and that's why you see a little more impact out of him compared to last year.

"And the way he's working, I think you'll see a little more coming out as he grows and if keeps working the way he has been working, I think you're going to see a lot of good things coming out of him”

Castillo knows exactly what he needs to work on to get where he wants to be. He continues to make adjustments all around. He has an incredible work ethic and he won’t be stopping his quest to the majors any time soon.

“I want to be a better hitter, I want to be stronger, I want to learn, I want to play hard every day, no matter what.  If I'm 0-5 or 5-5, I need to keep my energy up,” Castillo said. “I need to work, I need to be in practice every day, but I think to be in the big leagues I need 100 percent more.”

He hasn't had quite the same statistical success this year.  He's hitting just .240 through his first 26 GCL games but neither Castillo nor the Yankees are too concerned with numbers at this point.

If Castillo can remain consistent when it comes to building his strength up and improving from offseason to offseason, he will continue to have a bright future ahead of him.

“Just to continue to work and get stronger faster and the ability that he has is just going to improve by itself because he already has that," Gonzalez adamantly said.  "He has put a lot of work in and like he said he still needs to go out at a hundred percent and get stronger and bigger.

"Because to play this game for as long as you need to play, it's not easy, so he needs to work on his body to be able to last the whole year. This offseason he did a great job getting ready for this season and hopefully he continues to do that every offseason.”

Despite Castillo’s high ceiling, he still continues to have a lot to work on, but with his work ethic and love of the game, it is believed that he will reach and exceed his future goals on the road to the majors someday. Every single step for Castillo in the minors is impacting him positively in the long run and he continues to take everything in one step at a time.

“I'm not perfect, but I think I'm a better player than last year," Castillo concluded. "I am smarter, I played harder than last year. I think I'm better."


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