SARASOTA, Fla.—Very quietly, Miguel Castro has put together an outstanding spring training. In four innings, Castro has allowed just two hits and struck out six without walking a batter.
The 24-year-old right-hander is one of the more senior Orioles. In 2018, he appeared in 63 games, second only to Mychal Givens.
While some of his numbers weren’t bad (3.96 ERA), one in particular stood out. In 86 1/3 innings, Castro allowed 50 walks, and that’s going to have to improve.
Former manager Buck Showalter liked the idea of Castro starting. He started the penultimate game of the 2017 season, and started once in 2018, in Manny Machado’s final game with the Orioles, the game that preceded the All-Star break.
That talk has been abandoned, and he’s concentrating on pitching in relief.
“I feel fine coming out of the bullpen,” Castro said through a translator. “Being used as a reliever the past few years now has gotten me to the point where I’m already used to that role. I have that mentality with that role, and hopefully I can help the team in that role.”
Castro’s 62 relief appearances were almost equally divided between one inning or fewer and longer ones. On May 10, he pitched 4 2/3 shutout innings, allowing four hits.
Despite that ability, his new manager Brandon Hyde, has hinted at a new role for Castro, situational right-hander. Hyde said Castro’s been what he expected.
“He is, and a little bit more,” Hyde said. “I didn’t know he was sitting at 98 mph.
“With Miguel, it’s all about command and always had a really good arm. It’s about commanding pitches, and he’s done that in every outing so far. He attacked hitters, and he’s thrown some good sliders, but he’s a tough right-on-right candidate.”
Because of his lanky 6-foot-7 frame and his three-quarters throwing motion, Hyde thinks Castro is a natural for matchups against right-handed hitters. It’s possible the Orioles will carry three left-handers, and Paul Fry could be a situational left-hander.
“Just a tough at-bat against right-handers, and he’s proved that this spring,” Hyde said “He’s off to a great start in camp.”
Overall, Castro is satisfied with his first few weeks.
”I’m healthy. I’m ready to help, to compete,” Castro said. “I think spring training has gone well so far, and I’m looking forward for the season to begin.”
Castro has a new manager and pitching coach, Doug Brocail, but that doesn’t seem to concern him.
“The main thing is that we’re still playing the same game, the same sport,” Castro said. “It’s about baseball. It doesn’t change. It’s a new staff. They’re trying to get to know me better. I’m trying to get to know them better. That’s about it, just trying to get to know each other better.”
Brocail’s approach is different than his predecessor, Roger McDowell.
“It’s a different personality,” Castro said. “I guess getting to know him better every day just helps in communicating better and just having more confidence in going out there to do your job.”
Castro had difficulties sticking with Toronto, with whom he originally signed, and Colorado, which traded him to the Orioles in April 2017, but now that he’s starting his third season in Baltimore, he has bigger goals in mind.
“That is my mentality, to be a reliever, established at the big league level, not to be just your average Joe, but to stand out,” Castro said.