July 10, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Chicago White Sox relief pitcher Simon Castro (55) pitches in the eighth inning against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Detroit won 8-5. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Exit Interviews: Simon Castro


As much as I love wallowing in sorrow and loooove making sardonic jokes about crappy baseball, we’re done with stewing in 2013. At least we’re done stewing in a way that doesn’t look forward for the new year.

These “exit interviews” will be going over the entire 40-man roster and looking to see how each player does or does not fit into the White Sox future.

The term “exit interview” is usually used when an employee is leaving the company. I took that into consideration…and kept it.

In a single, silent blow, the White Sox snuffed out three Exit Interviews before they were born.

In fairness, this is probably what I would have recommended, but damn them from stealing Troncoso from me. Oh well.

Simon Castro – Right-handed relief prospect 

Age by 2014 Opening Day: 25, but he’ll turn 26 on April 9. He’s not old, but many are younger.

Contract: Less than a year of service time.

Relevant stats: MLB: 4 games, 6.2 IP, 5 H, 2.70 ERA, HR, 6 K, 3 BB, 2.0 K/BB, 167 ERA+

Triple-A: 27 games, 12 starts, 92.2 IP, 98 H, 5.83 ERA, 14 HR, 82 K, 33 BB, 2.48 K/BB

Interpretation: It’s apparent from just a few glances why he was formerly a top prospect, and someone should be able to squeeze a decent middle reliever out of this mound of talent and man at the least, but he’s somehow screwing that up too.

Emblematic split: Post All-Star break in Triple-A Charlotte, Castro allowed seven home runs, 25 hits and 19 earned runs in 17.2 innings. The White Sox opted to not to recall him during the second half.

Pre-season expectations: Back in the Spring (Oh, the innocence of Spring!), Castro was still being used as a starter, which fudged up our ideas about him.

Me in March:

Approaching ‘forgotten man’ status at the beginning of the spring, Simon Castro wrapped up what was probably the most electrifying stretch of White Sox pitching of the exhibition season on Monday, striking out five batters in two innings of work. The hard, sinking plane of his fastball coming out of his 6’5″ frame is a lot to deal with when he’s commanding it.

This ranks among the most interesting things Castro has done since joining the organization. There’s no clear path to him grabbing any spot starts any time soon, which is good, since it would best to see if he can hold his own in Triple-A for once before thinking about him again.

Nick, almost a year ago now:

“[Nestor] Molina and Castro’s future as starters in the organization seems precarious.  That’s not a total loss, nor shock, because each player came to town with warnings that their future was in the bullpen, but its a clue to the volatility of all of this.”

Quote of the year: “We’re just trying to take it day by day. I’m not focusing on what happened last year. I’m just focusing on what’s going to happen this year. I’m just going to focus on an everyday basis now.”

English is Simon’s second language, obviously, so there’s only so much fun to be had in him implying he mentally took off entire days in 2012.

Simon’s story: What a delicious mix of creamy, sweet success, and crunchy, peanut buttery failure this season was for Castro. He called attention back to himself with a strong Spring Training, then responded with 12 mediocre starts in Triple-A (4.95 ERA in 67.1 innings) where he showed no bankable skill for missing bats, pounding the strike zone, or even keeping the ball on the ground. Since it was his fourth year hitting his head at the level, the White Sox decided to cash out and see what kind of reliever they had.

After just four appearances in his new role, Castro got the call-up to the big club. While his ERA was a mirage and his control looked like it present a constant battle over the rest of the year, it was apparent that his fastball could be a weapon at the major league level and a doomed season seemed to offer a fine opportunity for him to take his lumps free of consequences. Yet after four appearances at the big league level, it was Castro who fell victim to the roster crunch of activating Jake Peavy, not Ramon Troncoso or other filler.

When play resumed from the All-Star break, Castro went about systematically obliterating any reason for the White Sox to call him back up. While his control stayed in check, his command lapses led to frequent shellings. At no point in the second half did Castro string so many as two scoreless appearances in a row and he allowed as many long balls as he allowed in the first half in a fourth of the innings. “His fastball is good” is not a comment anyone sticks around to listen to when there’s a 9.68 ERA second half to gawk at.

Assessment: Castro is out of options next Spring, instantly making him a contender to grab a back-end spot for the major league bullpen. It’s not the most egregious misplacement of values, since Castro has never been that far away from being an effective right-handed specialist, even if his delivery inconsistencies demand that he’ll work in exceptionally short bursts. A good Spring should be plenty to put Castro back in the fold.

Of course, every year that goes by with Castro struggling to consistently retire Triple-A tilts the reasonable expectations for him downward. ‘Future closer’ shifts to ‘setup man’ shifts to ‘generic bullpen arm.’ Pray that he does not shift it again.

All of which represents a disappointing trajectory for the jewel of the return in the Carlos Quentin trade. Especially considering the sterling reputation of the White Sox pitching development staff, getting two forgettable bullpen arms (or in Pedro Hernandez‘s case, a particularly awful starter) in exchange for a hitter who could have shifted the 2012 AL Central race was a regrettable step for the organization.

 

Follow James Fegan on Twitter @JRFegan

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Tags: Chicago White Sox Ramon Troncoso Simon Castro