Rockies Righthander Brayan Castillo Breaks Out At Instructional League
Brayan Castillo salvaged something from his 2021 season in September and built on that success in instructional league.
The 21-year-old Dominican righthander had an appendectomy in spring training. Stomach issues resulted in an intense infection and more surgery. He was hospitalized for a few weeks and didn’t touch a ball until some point in extended spring training.
After pitching in the Dominican Summer League in 2018 and 2019 and being idle in 2020 when the pandemic caused the minor league season to be canceled, the 6-foot-1, 183-pound Castillo finally made his 2021 debut on Aug. 2 in the Arizona Complex League.
He recorded at 5.11 ERA in eight games (five starts), totaling 24.2 innings. However, in three September outings, Castillo struck out 11 in 10.2 innings to go with a 1.69 ERA.
Then came a “phenomenal” instructional league according to Rockies player development director Chris Forbes where, “We kind of saw a glimpse of what he has a chance to be. He was great.”
At instructs, Castillo showed a fastball that was 93-97 mph. He flashed a plus slider that was 83-89 and had more depth than tilt. He used a high-80s changeup infrequently, but that could develop into an average pitch.
“His fastball’s got finish to it,” Forbes said. “He was able to get to both halves (of the plate). He shows the ability to kind of climb the ladder. He mixes his breaking ball well.”
Had Castillo been healthy and pitched more last season, Forbes said he would have gone from the ACL to Low-A Fresno, where “stopgap guys” were sent to fill some openings created by promotions to High-A Spokane. Castillo is scheduled to begin the 2022 season at Fresno.
Castillo, who signed as an international free agent in 2017, has no trouble pitching inside and, indeed, seems to enjoy it.
“He’s aggressive,” Forbes said. “But he shows very little emotion on the mound right now, which is fantastic. He definitely looked like had some conviction in what he was doing there in (instructional league).”
— The Rockies named Sterling Monfort director of professional scouting. He had previously been on the amateur side as the assistant director of scouting operations. Monfort will fill the role held by Jon Weil, who was assistant general manager of player personnel and oversaw professional scouting, before he and the club had a mutual parting in June.
— Andy Gonzalez was named assistant hitting coach, elevating him to the big league staff in what will be his eighth season in the Rockies’ organization. He spent the past three seasons as the Rockies’ camps and fundamentals coordinator. He also was the player development supervisor at Rookie-level Grand Junction from 2017-19, the short-season Boise manager in 2016 and Boise hitting coach in 2015.
Other newcomers to the big league coaching staff include bullpen coach Reid Cornelius, who was the Marlins’ rehab coach last year; and assistant hitting coach P.J. Pilittere, who was an assistant hitting coach with the Yankees the past four years. Additionally, Darryl Scott, the Rockies’ bullpen coach the past two seasons, will be the pitching coach. He replaces Steve Foster, who will perform a role similar to Mark Wiley, who was director of pitching and retired. Foster’s new position will provide him occasional time to see his daughter Lauren play shortstop for Wisconsin's softball team.