Acquired: Minor League Free Agent, December 2013
Player Profile and Career Summary
There are journeymen ballplayers and then there's Angel Castro, where you find that it's much less a journey than it is a long, hard struggle to silence everyone who said you wouldn't make it. Originally drafted in the 13th round of the 2006 draft out of Western Oklahoma State Junior College (now Western Oklahoma State University, Andrelton Simmons' former school) Castro has bounced around the minor leagues, independent baseball, the Mexican League, and even decided to spend a summer in Japan, you know, for the heck of it.
Coming off his stellar season in Japan in 2012 (no word on whether he learned the shuuto or feasted on heaping bowls of ramen) Castro signed a minor league contract with the Dodgers, started 19 games for the PCL's Albequerque Isotopes, and put up a respectable 3.48 FIP in 116 innings.
So you're wondering: Why bring in a 31 year old guy who's pitched in nearly every league on the planet? Let's start with this: Castro throws a 96 mph fastball and has a K-rate of 18%+ in three stops above AA. In addition, he gets a ton of ground balls: 53.4% if his balls in play at Albequerque last year were on the ground.
Castro also has the ability to be dominant at times, and two of those times occurred last season against the Memphis Redbirds:
4/29/2013: 7 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 5 K's
5/29/2013: 6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 6 K's
There's a non-zero chance that Castro is the 2013 "He kills us, we should sign that guy" guy and with open spots available on the 40-man roster and a Memphis rotation short on pitchers to start 2013 that's just what John Mozeliak has done.
It's hard to see Castro as much more than organizational filler -- it's hard to see any 31 year old minor league free agent as much more than that. For an organization that collects power sinkers, though, this is a guy that would seem to be a good gamble, an especially when your AAA pitching staff struggled considerably last year. Castro could be fairly dominant in small stints out of the bullpen (more so than Victor Marte, who he essentially replaced on the roster) and that could factor in this year if any injuries occur to someone in the MLB pen or Jason Motte takes longer than expected to return from injury.
None to other teams. As with Joey Butler, Castro isn't the type of guy you trade for since you could probably sign him in 4 months anyway. To the Cardinals, though, he's a guy that allows them to keep Gonzales and Petrick at AA for as long as they need as well as a power arm to potentially add to the major league pen if needed or to take a spot start or two if necessary.
Starting games in Memphis until some of the starters at Springfield prove worthy enough to move up, then probably setting up in the bullpen if Eric Fornataro struggles. Possible M.A.S.H. unit for the big league pen, along with Keith Butler, since he has options available and has the rubber arm to swing up for a few innings and then rejoin Memphis.