The Dodgers have signed free agent pitcher Fabio Castillo to a minor league contract. The 27-year-old right-hander began his professional baseball career 11 years ago, when he was signed by the Texas Rangers as a 16-year-old.
At that time, the native of Samaná, Dominican Republic had also been on the watch list for the Yankees, Mets, Braves, and Red Sox. The Rangers signed him for a bonus in the neighborhood of $250,000.
Castillo had gained national attention in 2005 when he attended a talent showcase for Perfect Game USA. He consistently hit 93 mph with his fastball and – at age 16 – and was rated a 10, the highest possible rating for a pro prospect. At the time of his signing by Texas he was considered to have the highest ceiling of any Rangers’ prospects.
Castillo has a four-pitch repertoire which includes a fastball, slider, change-up and splitter. The fastball has remained his dominant pitch but 11 years later it still has a glitch. His fastball, now in the high 90’s, has never really developed into a control pitch. His career K/BB ratio is barely 2/1.
Overall, during his tenure in the minor leagues with 17 teams, Fabio Castillo compiled an ERA of 4.50 ERA in 684 innings pitched while playing for 5 different organizations including the Rangers, Reds, Giants, Orioles, and Padres.
Castillo finished his 2016 minor league campaign compiling a 3-7 record with Triple-A El Paso and a 3-4 record with Double-A San Antonio Missions. He had a combined 4.87 ERA along with 66 strikeouts and 33 walks. He made 13 starts after having pitched strictly in relief during the previous two seasons.
On June 17 Castillo was released by the Triple-A El Paso Chihuahuas so he could sign on with the Hanwha Eagles of the Korean Baseball Organization. His 158 KPH (98 MPH) fastball attracted attention by the Eagles, who offered him a deal estimated at $250,000 USD.
With the Eagles he went 7-4 with an ERA of 6.43 along with 60 strikeouts and 40 walks. Following his Korean season the 6’1”/235-pound Castillo returned home and was subsequently signed by the Dodgers to a minor league contract.
Castillo had pitched with Vaqueros de la Laguna of the Mexican League in 2015 and posted a 3.55 ERA in 30 outings in relief. On several occasions during his career he has found success as a relief pitcher, especially at the AA level. It will be interesting to see if he can harness his fastball which could be a lethal weapon and secondly to see if the Dodgers use him as a starter or in a relief role.