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Rodolfo Castro Learns To Tame His Aggression

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When a player repeats a level and puts up big numbers, it introduces skepticism. Is the player performing well because he has grown accustomed to the level? Or is the success a sign of an adjustment that worked?

The Pirates aggressively pushed middle infielder Rodolfo Castro to low Class A last year at the age of 19, but he hit just .231/.278/.395 in 105 games. He returned to the level this year and his performance had turned a complete 180 degrees.

Through 43 games at Greensboro, Castro had hit .272/.318/.589 with 13 home runs and 11 doubles. His .316 isolated slugging percentage was by far a career high.

Castro, who signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2015, said that he hasn’t made any adjustments to his swing. He attributes his success to work that began last season when he transitioned away from being a free swinger and started planning for specific games and matchups.

Wyatt Toregas, who was Castro’s manager in 2018, discussed the work Castro has put in.

"It's the first time in his career where I had to show him heat maps,” Toregas said. "I'm like, 'Look, they have this. They know what you hit well. They know what you chase at.' I had to show him a stat pack. 'Look, right here it says a lot of strikeouts, not a lot of walks. They know you're swinging.' "

Castro, who plays second base and shortstop, embraced this. He started showing better power results at the end of the 2018 season. While Castro was still striking out a lot this year, the reports this year indicate that he is laying off more pitches that he used to chase and doing a better job of putting the barrel to the ball.

"Last year he swung a lot,” Toregas said. "He's aggressive. He's a young kid who wants to hit. I think this year he's turned into more of a hitter.”

BURIED TREASURE

— The Pirates are finding ways to limit Cody Bolton’s innings this year at high Class A Bradenton by pushing back his starts periodically. He threw just 44.1 innings last year because his season was shortened due to forearm soreness. This year he had already racked up 49 innings.

— Shortstop Oneil Cruz is currently out with a fractured foot, but has started working out at the Pirates' Florida complex in Bradenton. His rehab is currently on pace to put him back into games around mid-June, assuming no setbacks. Cruz finished last season at low Class A.

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