The Cincinnati Reds acquired right handed pitcher Luis Castillo on Thursday afternoon. Castillo came over from the Marlins as a part of a trade for Dan Straily.

When the season began the Marlins assigned Luis Castillo to Advanced-A Jupiter. In his first two starts he allowed one run over 5.0 innings with a combined 10 strikeouts and two walks. On the 18th against Clearwater the then 23-year-old tossed 6.0 shutout innings with two strikeouts. Things slowed down in the final two starts of April for Castillo. He was charged with five earned runs in 7.2 combined innings with a walk and seven strikeouts. For the month he posted a 2.66 ERA in 23.2 innings. He allowed one home run, walked four and had 19 strikeouts.

Luis Castillo rebounded well from the tough finish in April. In the first two starts of May he allowed two total runs in 10.0 total innings with just one walk and eight strikeouts. On May 16th he took on Tampa Bay and gave up two earned in 6.0 innings. That wound up being his worst start of the month. On the 21st the right hander tossed 5.0 shutout innings with five strikeouts. The month ended with one run over 6.0 innings against Palm Beach. At the end of the month he had posted a 1.67 ERA. Over 27.0 innings he allowed just three walks and had 23 strikeouts. He also didn’t allow a home run.

June began on a rough note of sorts. In 4.0 innings he only allowed one earned run. He didn’t strikeout anyone out and had three walks in the start. A week later he returned to the mound and struck out one in 4.0 innings. That was followed up by another 1-run, 4.0 inning start. On the 23rd he came back and fired 5.0 shutout innings with four strikeouts. The final start of the month was a rough one for Luis Castillo. Against Bradenton he allowed five runs in 4.1 innings with two walks and four strikeouts. For the month he posted a 3.38 ERA in 21.1 innings with five walks and 11 strikeouts. The strikeout rate dipped, significantly, but he didn’t allow a home run and had a good walk rate.

July began with the best start to this point in the season for Luis Castillo. He tossed 6.0 shutout innings with no walks and eight strikeouts against Fort Myers. That was followed up with two straight, 2-run and 5.0 inning starts. On the 20th the right hander took on Daytona and allowed just two hits in 6.0 innings with seven strikeouts. To finish the month he allowed one run over 6.0 innings against Charlotte. In 28.0 innings he had just three walks and 31 strikeouts to go with a 1.61 ERA. The strikeout rate recovered and the walk rate was minuscule.

August was a bit of a weird on for Luis Castillo. He was traded on July 29th to San Diego, but was returned to Miami when Colin Rea wound up needing surgery after just one appearance for the Marlins. That led to him going nearly two weeks between starts. He returned to the mound on August 7th and allowed a run in 5.0 innings with a walk and 2 strikeouts. On the 12th he took on the Cardinals for the second straight start. Castillo threw 7.0 shutout innings with a walk and three strikeouts. In what would be his final start in the Florida State League he allowed a run in 5.2 innings. Six days later he was in Double-A Jacksonville starting against Chattanooga. He tossed 6.0 innings and allowed just one run with a walk and four strikeouts. The right hander struggled against some of his future teammates the next time out against Pensacola. He walked four batters with five strikeouts in just 3.2 innings. The final start of the year saw him allow four runs in 4.1 innings with two walks and three strikeouts. Over the final five weeks he posted a 2.27 ERA in 31.2 innings. He allowed one home run, but had 10 walks and just 19 strikeouts.

In his first full season as a starter, Luis Castillo performed very well. While he was likely benefiting from the pitcher friendly ballparks in the Florida State League, he took home the league honors for Pitcher of the Year. His innings total of 131.2 was a big step up for him and he remained healthy all season long. There were some consistency issues, particularly when it came to his strikeout rate in a given month, but when he was on, he really performed well and when he was a bit off, he still was rather successful.

Team ERA  IP  HR  BB  K
Jupiter 2.07 117.2 95 2 18 91
Jacksonville 3.86 14.0 12 1 7 12

For all 2017 Prospect Ranking Scouting Reports – click here.

Luis Castillo Scouting Report

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Fastball | The pitch works 95-97 MPH, even later into the games. It topped out at 101 MPH during the season and he even hit 100 MPH in his second to last start of the year against Pensacola. The velocity is elite, but the pitch does lack movement and can be a bit straight.

Slider | His main secondary offering, the pitch tends to be average most of the time. When it’s at it’s best it shows itself as above-average to plus. It’s a shorter breaking ball that works in the mid-to-upper 80’s.

Change Up | It can be a solid pitch that shows some fading action in the 84-87 MPH range. It’s a clear third pitch, and he doesn’t use it as often as his others. It is better than I expected based on previous reports versus what I saw show up in his three Double-A starts that I was able to go back and watch.

Luis Castillo is a tad older than most pitching prospects who only have three starts above A-ball. His career started late, not pitching as a professional until he was 19-years-old. His first two years were spent in the Dominican Summer League, where he was older than most players. He’s moved rather quickly since coming to the United States in 2014, jumping straight to Low-A and reaching Double-A this past year.

2016 was just his first year starting full time. That transition meant a very limited pitch count. He only had three starts all season in which he threw 85 pitches and never topped 91 pitches in a game. Fifteen of his starts were under 80 pitches. The good control helped him rack up a decent amount of innings despite being on such a limited pitch count, but if he’s going to remain a starter, he’s going to need to up his pitch count and rather soon.

If everything works out, Castillo looks like he could be a #2 starting pitcher with two well above-average to plus pitches and a solid enough change up to go along with good control. There’s a ways to go before he gets to that point. Being able to handle a full load of innings for a starter is still a big step he will have to show he’s capable of, and his slider and change up will both need to find more consistency to reach that.

The fallback plan would be to ship him back to the bullpen where you could let a triple digit fastball and good slider work with good control to pitch out of the back of the bullpen. That’s not nearly as valuable as the starting version, but it’s still plenty valuable.

There’s a good floor with Luis Castillo as a hard throwing reliever, but there’s plenty of ceiling there as well. The risk comes with just how far he has to come as a starter at this point. He will be 24-years-old for the 2017 season and he’s likely to begin in Double-A and essentially still building up stamina to be able to throw 6+ innings on a regular basis.

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22 Responses

  1. The Duke

    I have Castillo a touch higher, but in the same general range. My top 30 goes:

    1. Nick Senzel, 3B
    2. Jesse Winker, LF
    3. Robert Stephenson, RHP
    4. Amir Garrett, LHP
    5. Taylor Trammell, OF
    6. Vladimir Gutierrez, RHP
    7. Luis Castillo, RHP
    8. Aristides Aquino, RF
    9. Sal Romano, RHP
    10. Tony Santillian, RHP
    11. Chris Okey, C
    12. Phillip Ervin, OF
    13. Tyler Stephenson, C
    14. Shed Long, 2B
    15. Tyler Mahle, RHP
    16. Rookie Davis, RHP
    17. TJ Friedl, CF
    18. Blake Trahan, SS
    19. Nick Travieso, RHP
    20. Jackson Stephens, RHP
    21. Scott Moss, LHP
    22. Ian Kahaloa, RHP
    23. Alex Blandino, Inf
    24. Jimmy Herget, RHP
    25. Alfredo Rodriguez, SS
    26. Calten Daal, SS
    27. Keuey Mella, RHP
    28. Austin Brice, RHP
    29. Jose Lopez, RHP
    30. Wennington Romero, RHP

    • Doug Gray

      When I sat down yesterday evening I had him at #6, behind Romano. Couldn’t justify ranking him ahead of Romano at all – but could get ranking him ahead of everyone else.

      But I talked with a few people who saw him this year, and watched his three Double-A starts and pushed him to #9. I thought about it for a while and just couldn’t put him ahead of Vladimir Gutierrez. Both guys have plenty to prove, but I just liked Gutierrez a tad bit more.

      • The Duke

        I’m not quite as high on Romano as you are, but 6-9 are all pretty close to me. Between Romano, Gutierrez, Castillo, and Aquino, Romano has the lowest ceiling of the bunch and a similar floor to Castillo imo. Romano may be a better bet to be an innings eater though. Like I said, all of that group is very close.

      • Doug Gray

        I’m not sure that Romano has a lower ceiling than anyone but Aquino from that list. I’d also argue he’s got the highest floor of anyone on that list.

      • Norwood Nate

        Yesterday on the other thread when his ranking came up I initially thought he’d be right around Travieso. If I recall correctly Travieso was at #10 on Doug’s initial list. I wasn’t sure if he’d surpass Santillan on Doug’s list, but I don’t have Santillan ranked as high in my personal order. This spot seems about right.

      • Doug Gray

        Realistically, for me, anywhere between #6-9 works for me. If I try, I can make an argument that works out for any of those rankings. To be higher or lower than that it gets pretty tough for me to make that argument.

      • Norwood Nate

        I agree with that thought process. Those guys all have a lot of talent but still a good amount to prove as well.

    • Greenfield Red

      Nice list Duke. What I like about your list is who is not on it: Rainey, Hanson, Whie, hendris, LaValley, Wotell among others. That speaks pretty well of the farm system. I think the Reds need to do a lot more, but this is a good sign.

  2. Fish

    Interesting. In thinking about him, santillan does seem like a comp although his lowish strikeout numbers as a starter were a little concerning.

    I’m just happy the reds got some high upside players instead of the mediocre close to the majors guys they’ve prioritized in past trades.

    • Doug Gray

      Santillan’s got the better arm of the two, but it was the ability to throw strikes that keeps Castillo ahead of him right this second.

      I do like that they targeted two high upside guys in the trade, even if White is so far away and hasn’t exactly performed yet. With that said, the main guy still falls into that “close” thing that they’ve been going with in their trades.

      • Bill

        While Castillo and Brice are close to ML ready, it doesn’t seem to be the driving factor in this trade. Given who the Marlins have in their system, these guys seem like pretty good players to have acquired. I doubt Miami would have made Braxton Garrett available, so I’m not seeing anyone else I would have preferred. I hope the new FO goes after the BPA in trades over ML ready.

  3. redleggingfordayz

    It just makes me very excited that we can rank a guy 9th in the Reds system when he throws 100 MPH. He was #2 in a laughably bad Marlins farm, but I am really happy to see the Reds getting some high upside potential in Castillo. If he doesn’t work out as a starter, you at minimum (barring injury) get a really good lock-down guy at the back end of the bullpen. Let us all welcome in the reign of DW.

  4. Krozley

    MLB.com’s rankings are always a bit weird, but they have the three prospects at 8, 23, and 30.

    • Doug Gray

      I’m more interested to see where the guys rank when they actually update the rankings. MLB does this weird thing where if a guy is traded, they will rank that guy accordingly within the previous set rankings, but if opinions on a guy change, they don’t move them. Aquino is ranked 22nd. Romano ranked 19th. On no planet would someone say “Yeah, we’ll take Rookie Davis or Alex Blandion over either of those guys”. When the rankings are updated in the next few weeks we will have a better idea of where they rank on that particular list. Of course, as you say, their rankings are always a bit weird.

  5. Matthew O'Neal

    He sounds like he could turn out as a poor man’s Aroldis Chapman. Little slower on the gun, less of a premium slider. But he can dial it up, and has a chance to start, with the other option being a end of the game presence. Initially, I like the guy.

    • Gregmlb

      I think he fits the mold of a Closer if he can those Ks up a little. Reds look like they might be targeting high upside Relief arms. Can’t wait to see the State of the Farm for the Relief Pitchers because I think that could be a real strength in the next 2-3 years.

  6. Mjc

    Doug, good coverage of the trade.i think the reds are back end of top 10 system. In terms of depth where do you rank there system. They have to be top 5 or better what do you think?

  7. Colt Holt

    So, for anyone looking for some good laughs (and perspective), I went through the thread from the Latos trade a couple years back. There was a lot of varying opinions on the return. Hindsight tells us that it was one of the best moves they have made in 5 years.

    The other funny reference point I saw was a call to hand off the out field jobs to Winker and Yorman right then. Time always creates some fun perspective.

  8. Arnold Ziffle

    DG, nice new rankings. Castillo is a get, no doubt. But I like the Austin Brice part of this deal. I think he can emerge as one of the new Nasty Boys. Speaking of the bullpen.

    DG, what do you think of the newly DFA’d Blake Parker for the Reds bullpen? The Angels DFA’d him when they picked up Juan Graterol. Graterol is getting passed around like a bag of chips. But back to Parker. He’s 31, RH, but misses a lot of bats, not many BB’s and HR’s, has had fabulous AAA numbers, but has had his ups and downs at the ML level. Looks like it could be a positive pickup if he is available and no one above the Reds selects him.

    • Doug Gray

      I think you’re much higher on Brice than I am. I think he’s a big leaguer, but I don’t see him as a back end of the bullpen type of guy.

      As for Parker – the one thing that worries me is how he’d fit in GABP. For the most part of his career, he’s been a big fly ball pitcher. Good minor league numbers, but not so strong MLB numbers. His stuff seems mediocre. Put all of that together in GABP and that seems like a guy who could really struggle.

  9. Cam.

    I think it’s encouraging that he was able to hold consistently good walk rates throughout the year when he was more than likely getting pretty tired by the end of the season seeing as he was new to starting.

    Although he’s a little older, I think he’s at an advantage of being in this system where he’s not needed to move super quickly. He’s got time to become more consistent with offspeed and continue to build up his workload.

    As Doug said, best case of a #2-3 starter with a floor of a power reliever. I happy with that (and Brice and White) for Dan Straily, who seems like a pretty good dude and I appreciate what he was able to do in 2016, but was probably headed for some regression.