Young reliever Miguel Castro's upside evident in Orioles debut Wednesday

Jon Meoli
Contact ReporterThe Baltimore Sun

Hard-throwing right-hander Miguel Castro might be more of a long-term bullpen fixture for the Orioles than an immediate one, and the reasons were evident when the 22-year-old made his debut with the club Wednesday night.

Castro recorded a scoreless eighth inning in the 5-4 loss to the Detroit Tigers, and needed 24 pitches to do it, but was “as advertised,” according to manager Buck Showalter.

“I’ve seen him before,” Showalter said. “He pitched against us. We’ve seen him. … Our guys were very accurate about their description. I liked his composure in that situation.”

Castro, who was designated for assignment by the Colorado Rockies in March and acquired by the Orioles in April, made his big league debut in 2015 and was a big part of that year’s trade that sent shortstop Troy Tulowitzki to the Toronto Blue Jays.

But he’s struggled in his major league career so far and views the Orioles as a chance to recover with so much baseball ahead of him.

“I see it as experiences that you have to learn and grow from it,” Castro said through club interpreter Ramon Alarcon. “Get better every day. I’m thankful for the opportunity, and I just want to get better every day.”

In his Orioles debut, he showed the three-pitch mix that made the Blue Jays try him as a closer at age 20: a mid-90s fastball, a good slider  and a changeup.

His fastball topped out at 96.5 mph, according to Statcast, and averaged a shade over 95 mph. His slider recorded his only swinging strike, which secured him a well-earned strikeout in a 12-pitch at-bat by Tigers shortstop Jose Iglesias.

“I just tried to concentrate on making good pitches,” Castro said. “If I make quality pitches, I think I’ll get the result I want.”

Because his travels cut short his spring training, he had spent most of April and early May building up his innings in Sarasota, Fla. He’d had only one appearance for Double-A Bowie before he was summoned out of necessity.

Whether it’s here for now or in the minors this season, the Orioles could have an asset that doesn’t really exist in their system, save for a handful of pitchers, for years to come.

Catcher Welington Castillo, who encountered him before in the National League West when he was with the Arizona Diamondbacks, had plenty of praise for the young pitcher.

“That’s a guy that has great stuff,” Castillo said. “I saw him pitch before. He’s got an electric fastball, a really good change and a slider. This is a guy who’s going to go right at them. He’s one of those guys [who says], ‘Hey, you’re going to hit me, or I’m going to get you out.’ That’s the type of stuff that he has. His mound presence, too. I like him.”

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