- Rating: 2.62
- 2023 stats: 1 G, 1 AB, .000/.000/.000, -100 OPS+
- Date of birth: October 28, 1997 (26 years old at the moment of publishing)
- 2023 earnings: $3,871 (via Spotrac)
- 2024 status: On 40-man roster, 1 option remaining.
If this were a Random D-Back piece I would have researched Diego Castillo a bit more, but since hardly anyone reads these player reviews, I will keep myself and my precious time a bit more limited.
Diego Castillo was born in Venezuela, the mother land of catchers, but wasn’t a catcher himself. He signed with the New York Yankees in the 2014 International signing period for the respectable sum of $750,000. Castillo was one of the better signings of his class, being ranked as highly as 16 and as low as 24.
Signed as a shortstop with a good glove, the Yankees’ hope was of course that he could become the kind of shortstop prodigy many teams hope for: good with the glove, good enough with the bat. From the beginning Castillo wasn’t much of a power bat, but his contact skills were highly valued. Some questioned his foot work and wondered whether he would wind up at second base.
As we know by now, his foot work indeed forced teams to move him over to 2nd base, and the doubt about his contact skills would lead to prospect sites eventually putting his floor as a utility kind of player than an everyday one at second base.
Diego Castillo had some fanfare early in his career, especially after a .331/.373/.444 line in the DOSL in 2015. But after crossing over to the USA he would get stuck at Class A for 3 years, before having somewhat of a breakout season in 2021, the year after COVID lockdown, which had him move from AA to AAA.
That 2021 season saw him move franchises, as the Pirates were able to include him in the deal for reliever Clay Holmes. At the end of the season the Pirates decided to add him to the 40-man roster and protect him from a Rule 5 draft, in which he would have been surely taken by some team.
Castillo got the chance to become an everyday player in Pittsburgh in 2022 and was part of the opening day roster. From April to end July Castillo got more than enough chances to set his name in stone, but failed to do so. Except for a 3 hit game at the beginning of the season, he was never really able to do so and the Pirates optioned him ahead of the trade deadline to Indianapolis with a .613 OPS.
He returned for some more at bats mid September until the end of the season, but wasn’t able to show any improvement. That made the Pirates designate him for assignment by the end of December.
Because of his former prospect status and the utility player outlook, the Pirates were certain to lose the player on a waiver claim, but were able to settle for a deal with the Diamondbacks. They actually got quite the interesting player from Hazen for a player that was DFA’d: starting pitcher Scott Randall. Unfortunately the deal hasn’t worked out that well for the Pirates thus far because Randall hit the Full season injured list in the minor leagues before the beginning of the season.
Diego Castillo thus joined the Diamondbacks in the 2023 off-season. In his place Taylor Widener was DFA’d. Castillo had a terrific showing in the Venezuelan Winter Leagues, one that has suffered in quality because of the status quo between the country and the US, with a 1.001 OPS for the Caribes the Anzoategui.
He continued the positive vibe with a decent Spring Training, ending with .270/.325/.459 triple slash, not enough for warranting a spot on the Opening Day roster, of course, getting cut on March 12 and being reassigned to the Reno Aces.
In Reno he has a terrific showing until the end of July, when he is called up to the major leagues, with a .340/.442/.450 batting line and a K-BB of 51/58, getting appearances at 2B, SS and LF.
When the Diamondbacks make the Paul Sewald trade and Josh Rojas and Dominic Canzone head to the Mariners, Castillo is called up to the major league squad from Reno.
The Venezuelan is granted a pinch hit appearance in a game against the San Francisco Giants that goes 10 innings. It is in this 10th inning that Castillo is summoned to get a hit, although in the previous at bat Emmanuel Rivera has already brought Jake McCarthy, the ghost runner, home. Castillo replaces catcher Jose Herrera and sees two sinkers before flying out to right field. After the top of the 10th he is replaced by Carson Kelly and the following day is optioned back to Reno to end the season there.
Maybe this will be the last time we will see him in Sedona Red, so enjoy:
Diego Castillo is on the 40-man roster and might make it through the entire off-season. While we didn’t see much of him in 2023 and the 2022 season in Pittsburgh wasn’t impressive, he did show why he might be an interesting utility player on this roster.
The man has a good arm and some interesting opposite field hitting skills, which surely has some value. Hazen has liked these kind of players the past couple of years (Yonny Hernandez, Ildemaro Vargas, Sergio Alcantará).
Take a look at his 2022 highlights and see for yourself.
But eventually, it is all up to Castillo himself. In 2022 he was a light-hitting Kevin Cron kinda guy: good on the fastball, bad on anything else. Maybe he is able to work on that.
Do you see Diego Castillo being part of the 40-man roster in 2024?
Yes, definitely has some upside as a utility guy.