All aboard! The express train is coming through, driven by none other than Wade and Heck's first draft selection Jason Castro.
For all those looking for previous American Idol contestant Jason Castro you're on the wrong train.
Now that that's been taken care of.
As you know Jason Castro was selected in the first round of 2008 draft with the ninth overall selection. A selection which Wade was lambasted for, because he passed on the hot hitting first baseman Justin Smoak. I was one of those up in arms over the selection, because Smoak was clearly the better prospect and he's from South Carolina where I take evening classes. As we would soon find out Wade and Heck don't care about the consensus pick. They are not afraid to draft the players they want, even if it means over drafting them.
Castro was put aboard the express train by Wade, signing shortly after being drafted he was quickly off to play in lower A ball. Posting good numbers in Tri-City he was promoted to high A ball. After 56 games in Lancaster he was promoted to AA Corpus Christi where he finished out the season. His move through the farm system signifies a new direction and a change in philosophy.
Castro entered Spring Training with an outside shot of making the major league roster, but boy did he sure give Towles a run for his money. Humberto Quintero was already designated as the backup catcher for the Astros, leaving Towles and Castro to duke it out over who would win the Opening Day job. Castro chased Towles with a .313/.378/.344 line. Pretty darn good for a guy who had only played as high as AA the previous year. The Astros had Castro on the express lane to the majors. However they wisely decided to give Towles another shot at the starting catcher position, sending Castro down to AAA to further polish his catching and hitting.
In late June Castro was called up along with Jason Bourgeois and Chris Johnson. It was an attempt by Ed Wade to shake up a roster that was far from competing. In his very first game on June 22nd Castro got his first hit, two games later on the 24th he got his first homerun. He finished June with a .231/.355/.385 line. Defensively he was tested early by teams. He passed the test with flying colors throwing out 4 of 7 would be base stealers.
Highlight: Castro's first career homerun
Not such a kind month to Castro, posting a .164/.233/.218 line in 19 games. His batting average on balls in play (BABiP) was a ridiculously low .182. yikes! The plus side is that he did start 19 games and was being given a majority of the starts to prove he can handle the job. He continued to assert his authority on the base paths gunning down 3 of 7 would be base stealers.
Highlight: Jason Castro with a three-run shot
Another tough month for Castro, he continued to float around the .200 line for much of the month. Progress was made though as he posted a .219/.296/.313 in 22 games for the month. His BABiP for the month was .286, which is better but still indicates Castro was unlucky. He did show a little more extra base power with 5 extra base hits (XBH) the previous two months he had 3 total.
Castro has gotten off to a great start so far in September with a .333/.412/.812 line to go with a .357 BABiP. Having a good final month would go along way to help not only build confidence, but also give us some fire power to fend off the people who want to send him down to the minors. Catcher is a tough position for a young player to come in and produce offensively right off the bat. On top of those expectations he also needs to learn the entire pitching staff, as well as the weaknesses for opposing hitters.
Highlight: Castro with a sliding catch
Castro has done exactly what the Astros have asked him to do, which is learn the pitching staff and get comfortable behind the plate. Anything offensively he does this year will be a bonus. There's been some discussion in the game threads about Castro's Stanford swing, which if my understanding is correct, has a big hole in it. May help explain some of the struggles he's had, but it could also be the fact that this guy was drafted just two years ago.
His defense has been as good as advertised, even with the recent issue of passed balls coming into play. Something like that though should be able to be ironed out. With his defensive ability I'm less worried about passed balls. His work behind the plate has gotten good reviews by both the pitchers and the coaching staff. For the year he's gunned down 13 of 34 base runners attempting to steal a base, good for a 38% caught stealing.
For a guy drafted just two years ago that's awesome and shows a lot of maturity. It also means he'll be given plenty of time to show what he can do. Castro represents a couple things for the Astros, a change in the way the Astros challenge young players, and the new wave of talent that will be following him through the farm system.