Was Jose Castillo ever a prospect?

Jose Castillo joined the Pirates in 2004 at the age of 23. He was young, promising, and seemed poised to become a fixture at second base for many years. In 2004, he hit .256/.298/.368. He followed that up with lines of .268/.307/.416 in 2005, .253/.299/.382 in 2006, and .244/.270/.335 in 2007. Throughout these unproductive years, Castillo held on to the labels “young” and “talented.” Many felt that he had loads of potential, and was primed to break through at any point.
Why? Maybe it was the beauty of his laser throws on tough double play pivots. Or perhaps it was the splendor of his majestic home runs slamming into the leftfield rotunda at PNC Park. Whatever the reason, fans, media and baseball insiders were enamored with Castillo’s play. However, he never performed well in professional baseball. Not with the Pirates, not even in their minor league system.
In five minor league seasons, he posted yearly OPS’s of .703, .826, .647, .823 and .729. Those are not impressive numbers, especially considering that one of his best seasons (2002) came when he repeated High-A ball. His career minor league line is a mediocre .283/.336/.422. Yet, most likely due to his exciting tools and short bursts of brilliance, Castillo has been considered a prospect for much of his career.
Castillo is a classic example of a player that is judged by how he looks as opposed to how he performs. As fans, we see the strong arm and awesome power, and that is what sticks in our memories. We do not notice the terrible plate discipline and the erratic fielding. However, after four years in Pittsburgh, these flaws are obvious to everyone. Castillo has now spent nine years in the Pirates’ organization, without a single productive season. His highest Major League on-base percentage was only .307, in 2004. His career high OPS+ of 87 also came in that season. Finally, despite his reputation for being a good fielder, Baseball Prospectus has never rated Castillo as being above average defensively.
It has taken many years, but it is at last evident that Castillo is not a very good baseball player. Now 26 years old, he will likely find himself in a new home in 2007.

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3 Responses to “Was Jose Castillo ever a prospect?”

  1. Cory Humes Says:

    It seems like Pittsburgh would be the worst possible place for a player like Castillo. I don’t know, maybe it’s just me — but I think Jose had a prospect fire burning, and the Pirates extinguished it.
    His B-R most comparable players list is kind of fun to look at — a few interesting names pop up. Mike Sweeney, for one; Todd Zeile, for another — even Joe Garagiola.
    The best though, by far, is Warren Morris. Had to see that coming…

  2. Matt Bandi Says:

    I miss Warren Morris, though I’m not sure why.

  3. Randy Linville Says:

    And Warren Morris’ most similar player at age 26 is Carlos Garcia. No Tony Womack or Jose Lind on those lists. If either of them showed up on the similarity scores, that’d be scary.
    I remember when Garcia made the All-Star team in 1994, I was ticked because my fav 80s Bucco Johnny Ray had been passed over so many times. Garcia was hitting just .267 (I looked it up) at the AS break in 1994. That would’ve been an off year for Ray.


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