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2022 Diamondbacks Reviews, #36: Humberto Castellanos

A waiver claim with potential whose time is quickly ticking away.

Los Angeles Dodgers v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images
  • Rating: 3.44
  • Age: 25 by Opening Day
  • 2022 Stats: 3-2, 5.68 ERA, 1.398 WHIP, 44.1 IP, 71 ERA+
  • 2022 Earnings: $713,700 (via Spotrac)
  • 2023 Status: Pre-Arbitration Eligible

By and large, waiver claims are not weighed down with a particularly high level of expectation and many of those fulfill that lack of enthusiasm or expectation. There are certainly exceptions to that rule , but they are few and far between to say the least. Unfortunately, to this point Humberto Castellanos lies firmly in the “proving the rule” bucket rather than the exceptional with franchise patience, playing time, and opportunities quickly disappearing. As the D-Backs slowly (but surely) right the ship and start moving towards genuine competitiveness, it will be worthwhile to watch how they handle players like Castellanos who possess potential but have failed to execute at the major league level.

Originally plucked out of Mexico as a 17 year old by the Astros, Castellanos steadily advanced through the Houston farm system where he mostly operated as a starter alongside some spot relief work. He impressed enough in 2019 - accumulating a 2.89 ERA and 1.045 WHIP in 74.2 IP across three levels - that he earned a “Spring Training” invite in 2020 and was assigned to the alternate site that same year. However, his cup of coffee once joining the major league roster was less than impressive as he posted an unsightly 6.75 ERA and 1.594 WHIP across just 10.2 IP. Ironically enough, Castellanos made his major league debut on August 4th against none other than the Diamondbacks where he pitched a clean ninth inning to close out a blowout 8-2 win for the Astros. Despite the minuscule sample size, the Astros decided to DFA the then-22 year old to make room on their 40-man roster in the offseason.

The D-Backs entered the picture just a week after Castellanos was DFA’d, clearly hoping to unlock the potential he demonstrated in the minors - especially given his youth at just 22 at the time. As Heath pointed out in Castellanos’ 2021 review, he was converted back into a starter upon joining the franchise in Reno where he posted solid enough results to earn a promotion to the major league club in June. Unfortunately, he failed to make much of a strong impression, but given the overall struggles of the dumpster fire that was the 2021 D-Backs team, his struggles were overwhelmed by the bigger picture of the roster itself. Notably however, he was able to munch on some much-needed innings as he was able to complete at least five innings in five out of his seven starts in 2021 for a team that rarely had such consistency throughout the year.

As a result, the expectations for Castellano’s 2022 were ever so slightly ratcheted up as he was a young strike-thrower (65% in 2021) who had shown potential to hold his own against major league competition. Unfortunately, those slight expectations were dashed as he began the 2022 campaign back in the bullpen before being plugged back into the rotation midway through April where he (mostly) held his own until back-to-back rough outings at the end of May. Sadly, that was the last time we would see Castellanos pitch in the 2022 season as he was placed on the IL immediately after that May 31 start and attempted to rehab a sore elbow for the next two months. That rehab evidently was unsuccessful as Torey Lovullo announced in August that Castellanos would undergo Tommy John surgery, which ended his 2022 season and likely eliminates him as a realistic possibility for much of the 2023 season as well.

So, where does all this leave the D-Backs and Castellanos? Regrettably, Castellanos was again DFA’d in November to make room for Rule 5 eligible players, and he was assigned back to Reno afterward. As far as we can tell for now, Castellanos will continue to rehab after his surgery and aim for a rebound sometime in 2024 at which point the D-Backs will hopefully be competing for a wild card spot if not vying for the division itself. By that point, it’s unclear if Castellanos will still be with the franchise or be moving on to yet another team, but I wish him the best in his recovery and rehabilitation!