Brawl Ends With Pitcher's Arrest

A brawl in the first inning of Thursday night's low Class A game between the Dayton Dragons, a Reds affiliate, and the Peoria Chiefs, a Cubs affiliate, ended with the arrest of Peoria righthander Julio Castillo.

Castillo, 20, was arrested and charged with felonious assault after firing a baseball into the stands behind the Dayton dugout just as the brawl began. The ball struck a fan, who had to be removed on a stretcher and taken to a hospital. The fan has since been released. Castillo was held overnight in a Montgomery County jail, with bond set at $50,000.

"This is in no way, shape or form the way our players are supposed to act," Cubs farm director Oneri Fleita said.

Three Peoria hitters were hit by pitches during Wednesday night's series opener, and the situation didn't take long to escalate on Thursday. Dayton starter Kyle Lotzkar plunked Peoria's Nate Samson, the second hitter of the game. In the bottom of the first inning, Castillo hit Zach Cozart, Dayton's second hitter, in the head. Cozart had to be removed from the game.

After a Neftali Soto strikeout, Dayton pushed across four runs on three consecutive hits. Then Dayton shortstop Angel Cabrera, who hit a walk-off home run to beat Peoria on Wednesday, was hit by a pitch.

When the next hitter, Keltavious Jones, hit a grounder to short, Cabrera went in hard to second, taking out second baseman Nate Samson and breaking up a possible double play. When Castillo buzzed Brandon Menchaca with a pitch in the next at-bat, Dayton manager Donnie Scott began complaining to home plate umpire Tyler Wilson. The argument escalated when interim Peoria manager Carmelo Martinez interjected. Ryne Sandberg, Peoria's regular manager, was absent to attend the Hall of Fame ceremonies in Cooperstown, N.Y. The two managers began shoving, the benches emptied and the brawl ensued.

As the players were beginning to leave their dugouts, Castillo, who had ventured from the mound to the third base line still holding the baseball, fired it at the Dayton players leaving their dugout. But the throw sailed into the stands, hitting the fan.

Castillo, both managers, and 14 other players were ejected by the umpires, although those ejections were reversed when the teams' parent organizations protested that they didn't want pitchers to be forced to play in the outfield, which would have been the case.

Castillo was signed by the Cubs out of the Dominican Republic in 2004. Control has been an issue for Castillo throughout his brief pro career. In his U.S. debut in 2005, Castillo walked 12 in 21 innings in the Arizona League. He returned the AZL in 2006 and put together a K-BB ratio of 13-17 in 33 innings, with an 8.73 ERA.

In 2007, Castillo started the season with Peoria but put up a 7.27 ERA while walking 15 in seven appearances for the Chiefs. He later made seven appearances for short-season Boise but again had control issues, giving up 24 hits and handing out 15 free passes in 23 innings pitched.

Castillo didn't join the Chiefs this year until late June, but was pitching relatively well until Thursday. He hadn't allowed a run in his previous two starts, and had walked only eight in 22 innings.

Fleita said that makeup has not been a concern with Castillo before.

The two teams are still awaiting disciplinary action from Midwest League president George Spelius. The timing of the incident is especially difficult for Peoria, which is scheduled to play a game at Wrigley Field on Tuesday, an event that was expected to be a celebration of Sandberg's return.