Castillo was acquired in a trade with the Cubs right before the deadline for Joe Smith and filled a major need in the organization: polished pitching prospects. This is rare for someone his age, 21-years old, but you won’t hear anyone here complain. On the season, he carried a BB/9 under 3 for the first time, which is a huge improvement from the BB/9 of over 4 he had in the previous two seasons in the Cub’s Rookie Ball league, and he only walked 7 batters in 29.2 innings after the trade to Burlington. Overall, he had a 2.43 ERA in 29.2 innings pitched in the Angels org. with only one home run surrendered and a healthy 3.07 FIP.
The stark difference in minor league numbers is as simple as Castillo getting older and filling out his athletic frame. Having lived in Spain at one point in his life, he grew up playing soccer and that athleticism has helped on the diamond as well, helping him repeat his smooth delivery with his loose arm and long extension. The significant uptick in fastball velocity is also an indication of his body maturing: when he first signed, he was sitting in the mid 80’s with his fastball. This past season? He was living in the low 90’s with his heater to go along with his advanced changeup, his best pitch, and his improving breaking ball. For a 21-year old to have good control/command, a much-improved fastball, a + changeup, and progressing breaking pitch, that’s exactly what you want to see. Especially since you gave up three months of Joe Smith to get him. Not a knock on Joe Smith, by any means, it’s just pretty good value all things considered.
Look for Jesus to maybe even start out the year with Inland Empire (A+) where he’ll be handed the challenge of facing more advanced hitters in a hitter friendly league, but his feel for pitching and improvement could very well warrant that and if he holds his own there, then he’ll really place himself on the Angels’ radar as a potential future major leaguer. If he can add one more tick to that fastball, he’s still only 165 pounds, and keep improving that secondary pitch, then Eppler really has found a gem here and I applaud him for that trade. The Angels farm system lacks impact pitching, and while it’s still a glaring organizational need, Castillo at least offers some optimism in that department. He’s worth keeping an eye on.