- Full name Jason Michael Castro
- Born 06/18/1987 in Castro Valley, CA
- Profile Ht.: 6'3" / Wt.: 215 / Bats: L / Throws: R
- School Stanford
- Debut 06/22/2010
Drafted in the 1st round (10th overall) by the Houston Astros in 2008 (signed for $2,070,000).
View Draft ReportA catcher most of his prep career, Castro entered this season thought of as a bat first after his strong summer in the Cape Cod League. He hit just .263 combined in his first two seasons at Stanford, then hit .341 in the Cape (second-best in the league), but he played mostly first base or outfield in deference to Florida State's Buster Posey. This spring, Castro has put it all together, showing he can hit for average and power while being Stanford's primary catcher. At 6-foot-3, he's tall but athletic enough to have good lateral movement and agility, and he's improved as a receiver, where he's considered fringe-average at worst. His arm also grades as average, and he's an above-average hitter, particularly for his position. Offensively, Castro stays inside the ball and has a fundamentally sound, strong swing. One scout likened his offensive package to that of former Athletics supplemental first-rounder Mark Teahen, who also played collegiately in the Bay Area, only with more power. In some years, Castro would be the best catcher on the board, but this he's third behind Posey and Southern California prep phenom Kyle Skipworth. He's not expected to last past the first round.
Organization Prospect Rankings
Castro was the first building block in the Astros' effort to rebuild their farm system after hiring Bobby Heck as scouting director. Mostly a reserve at first base and DH his first two years at Stanford, Castro finished second in the Cape Cod League batting race (.341) in 2007, often playing the outfield in deference to teammate Buster Posey but also displaying his athleticism. He then led Stanford to the College World Series in 2008 as the Cardinal's starting catcher, leading the Pacific-10 Conference with 105 hits. Houston drafted him 10th overall that June and signed him for $2.07 million, the second-largest bonus in franchise history. While some clubs thought Castro was a bit of a reach at No. 10, the Astros took him with the expectation that he'd move quickly through the system and solidify a premium position. So far, so good for Castro, who has established himself as one of the top catching prospects in the game while batting .300/.380/.446 in his first full pro season. After opening 2009 at high Class A Lancaster, he advanced to Double-A Corpus Christi in June, then left the Hooks in August to help Team USA win a gold medal at the World Cup. He also participated in the Futures Game in July, when he homered on a breaking ball from Blue Jays lefty Luis Perez. Castro has a sound approach at the plate, showing good feel for the strike zone with a knack for staying inside the ball. He makes consistent contact and gets on base by working the count and putting the ball in play to all fields. While he's not a power hitter, he has a solid swing and is able to generate loft. He doesn't show a discernible platoon split, hitting well against both lefties and righties. Castro is solid behind the plate in every regard. He has a solid-average arm and makes accurate throws, recording 2.0-second pop times thanks to his athleticism, quick release and footwork. He threw out 45 percent of basestealers last season. He has soft hands and receives the ball well. Castro isn't likely to become a big power threat, projecting to have fringe-average to average power and hit 10-15 homers a season. He runs better than most catchers, but he still has below-average speed. He appeared worn down in the Arizona Fall League after his first full pro season. Astros officials noted that he lost about 15 pounds since the beginning of the year, so he'll need to learn to stay stronger throughout the course of a season while catching in the Texas heat. While Castro doesn't have one overwhelming tool, he's solid in nearly every phase of the game. He profiles as an average to a tick above-average starting catcher in the big leagues, along the lines of a more selective A.J. Pierzynski, who is a similarly built, lefthanded hitting catcher. Castro's future home run power is the biggest variable in his projection. He figures to start 2010 at Triple-A Round Rock but has a chance to reach Houston at some point during the season. He should establish himself as the Astros' catcher by 2011, shoring up a position where the club has seen recent first-round picks (Max Sapp) and No. 1 prospects (J.R. Towles) fizzle.
Castro was a known commodity before attending Stanford, as he was one of the top high school catchers in Northern California at Castro Valley High. The Red Sox drafted him in the 43rd round in 2005, though he would have gone higher if not for his college commitment. It wasn't until his breakout summer of 2007 in the Cape Cod League when he truly stamped himself as a premium pro prospect, however. Castro hit .263 in his first two college seasons, and then he posted the Cape's second-best average (.341). He would have pulled more catching duty had he not deferred to Buster Posey, the Florida State All-American and eventual Giants 2008 first-rounder, so he also played first base and even center field. By last June, he found himself as the Astros' first-round pick and centerpiece of the organization's push for a farm system turnaround. Drafted 10th overall, he signed for $2.07 million, the second-largest bonus in Astros history. That came after Castro paced Stanford to the College World Series, leading the Cardinal in both average (.376) and total bases (171) while finishing with 14 home runs and 73 RBIs. Castro has all the tools to be a legitimate offensive catcher. He's got a loose swing, yet it has loft and scouts have rated his raw power at 55-60 on the 20-80 scouting scale. His success comes from staying inside the ball and he should be able to hit for average. A lefthanded hitter, most of his power is up the middle, and scouts say as he gets stronger he could develop power the other way. Castro spent most of his first two years at Stanford as a reserve, mostly at first base and DH. Scouts warmed up to him after his Cape performance, then saw him as a first-rounder when he smoothly handled catching duties as a junior. As a pro, he showed good leadership and seemed to enjoy calling games. He has soft hands and blocks balls well. His arm strength and accuracy also are solid, and scouts like his footwork and quick release. While one scout thought he had the best swing on the West Coast, Castro can get too loose at the plate. That could spell trouble, particularly against lefthanders. He showed in Hawaii Winter Baseball he could stay in against them, but advanced lefthanders will try to get Castro to chase. He also sometimes has trouble against sliders from righthanders. In his debut, he would connect with those pitches but roll over to first base. Because he didn't call games in college, he'll have to hone that skill in the minors. Because the Astros left the Carolina League and signed a new high Class A affiliation agreement with Lancaster, they can shepherd Castro into his first full season by keeping him on the West Coast in the California League. He played briefly last season, with additional time in Hawaii. He seems a safe bet to at least be a solid major league catcher, with the potential to be quite a bit more.
Minor League Top Prospects
Castro has been the cornerstone of the Astros' downtrodden farm system ever since they made him the No. 10 overall pick in 2008. He didn't tear up the PCL offensively during his two months in the league, but he showed good defensive tools and Houston moved him up to the majors in late June nonetheless. Few who saw Castro in Triple-A doubted he was ready for the big leagues from a defensive standpoint. An athletic catcher, he sets up nicely behind the plate, where he's adept at framing pitches and blocking balls in the dirt. He has above-average arm strength as well, throwing out 38 percent of basestealers in the PCL and 37 percent in the majors. Castro shouldn't have any trouble being an everyday catcher thanks to his defense, but his offensive upside looks somewhat limited. Though he has a nice lefthanded swing, scouts have doubts about whether he has enough bat speed to catch up to major league fastballs. He'll hit for some power, but it's mostly to his pull side and still a tick below average overall.
There aren't many scouts who think Castro is going to be a star, but there also aren't many who think he'll be less than a solid major league starter. He came to the TL at midseason after opening in the high Class A California League, and then joined Team USA for the World Cup. Castro doesn't have a standout tool, but he's a slightly above-average hitter who should have average power. He has a knack for staying inside the ball as well as good pitch recognition. He's a solid catcher with good defensive skills and the ability to handle a pitching staff. He threw out 28 percent of basestealers in the after nabbing 59 percent in the Cal League. Like most catchers, he's not a good runner. "You're not going to see any sevens or eights (on the 2-to-8 scouting scale)," an American League scout said, "but can you win with this guy? Absolutely."
Somewhat of a surprise as the No. 10 overall pick in the 2008 draft, Castro homered in the Futures Game and reached Double-A in his first full pro season. He's not in the same class as Wieters or Posey, but he projects as a solid all-around backstop. Castro's strengths as a hitter are his contact ability, situational hitting and strike-zone judgment. He uses the whole field and should develop average power. He's a below-average runner but not bad for a catcher. He doesn't possess a howitzer arm, but Castro led the Cal League by throwing out 59 percent of basestealers, thanks to his footwork and quick release. His receiving skills are fundamentally sound.
Castro immediately made the Astros look good for drafting him 10th overall out of Stanford, shining in all facets of the game at the College World Series in June. He arrived at Tri-City in mid-July and impressed managers and scouts with his complete tool package, though his numbers were nothing special. Castro stands out most for his mature offensive approach, quick hands and ability to square balls up consistently and easily. He showed slightly above-average raw power, though he tended to cut off his swing, causing him to roll over pitches and hit a lot of hard grounders to first base. He has a well-proportioned catcher's frame and is a very good defender behind the plate, with advanced receiving skills and footwork and a plus arm, which helped him throw out 40 percent of basestealers in the NY-P. Castro easily profiles as a solid everyday catcher in the big leagues.
Top 100 Rankings
Best Tools List
- Rated Best Defensive Catcher in the Houston Astros in 2010
- Rated Best Hitter for Average in the Houston Astros in 2010
- Rated Best Defensive Catcher in the Houston Astros in 2009