The Astros are hoping 2013 will be the year Jason Castro finally lives up to his potential. A first round pick in the 2008 draft, Castro made it to the big leagues in 2010. Perhaps the biggest challenge for Castro has been staying off the disabled list. Penciled in as the Astros starter behind the plate for 2011, Castro suffered a knee injury in Spring Training and missed the entire season.
Castro returned to action after the season, playing in the Arizona Fall League. But the injury bug bit Jason again and he would undergo offseason foot surgery to remove a sesamoid bone. Castro worked hard to rehab the injury and returned in the spring ahead of schedule. Jason was back behind the plate for the Astros on Opening Day 2012 against the Rockies.
Castro got off to a slow start, hitting only .120 in his first eight games. He began losing more and more playing time to Chris Snyder before going on somewhat of a hot streak in June. Castro hit .302 for the month as his playing time started to increase. But Jason’s surgically repaired knee began to swell and he was placed on the disabled list on July 8th.
After missing nearly a month, Jason feasted on minor league pitching during a short rehab assignment. Once he was able to catch back-to-back games Castro was reinstated to the Astros roster. Jason continued to improve, hitting .306 in August and blasting four homers in his last seven games of the season.
Castro finished the season with a .257/.334/.401 slash line in 295 plate appearances. All were considerable improvements over his rookie season of 2010. Castro posted an impressive line drive percentage of 27.5 in 2012. That was an improvement over the 22.2% number he posted as a rookie. That number, which is above average, resulted in an extremely low BABIP of .250. These numbers would all suggest that Castro has had some bad luck in the batter’s box.
Hitting against left-handed pitching is one hurdle that Castro has yet to clear. He will continue to lose playing time until he improves his numbers against lefties.
On defense, Castro needs to improve his ability to block balls in the dirt. The Astros had one of the highest wild pitch rates in the league and Castro was charged with eight passed balls last season. His caught stealing numbers also suffered in 2012, dropping below the league average.
Castro showed continued improvement with the bat last season, especially when he was moved up in the lineup by interim manager Tony DeFrancesco. I’m excited to see if Castro can take his game to the next level in 2013. I think the potential is definitely there.