Houston Astros’ 30 Players in 30 Days: Jason Castro
The Houston Astros drafted Jason Castro with the 10th overall pick in the 2008 MLB Draft. Castro would debut with the team on June 22, 2010, with a hit in four at-bats. In 2011, Castro tore his ACL in Spring Training and missed the entire season. Castro returned in 2012, but his breakout season came in 2013 when he slashed .276/.350/.485 with 18 home runs, made the All-Star team and posted a 4.4 WAR. 2014 was a disappointment offensively for Castro as his numbers dropped across the board, but he had a stronghold on the catching position coming into 2015 because of his defensive work and improved pitch-framing.
The left-handed hitting Castro began 2015 on a low note offensively. In April, he only had one multi-hit game and slashed .203/.304/.339. Castro put together a stronger May, as he hit .250 thanks to his BAbip rising to .319 from .217 in April.
The offense for Castro came to a screeching halt in June. His only hits through his first seven games came via home run. Castro only had ten hits in 58 at-bats, a .219 OBP, and his strikeout totals skyrocketed in June. Part of the blame may have been a right knee contusion he was dealing with after being hit by a Ubaldo Jimenez fastball on June 2.
As July came around, he was splitting time almost evenly with Hank Conger and was in danger of losing his handle on the starting job altogether. Castro started 14 games in the month and Conger started the other 11. In July, Conger slashed .258/.368/.516 and Castro slashed .234/.321/.426. But as Conger was proving that he may be the stronger offensive choice behind the plate, he was also showing his inability to throw runners out, and Castro salvaged his month in the last two games.
On July 30, the Astros and Los Angeles Angels were scoreless in the bottom of the ninth inning at Minute Maid Park. After a Luis Valbuena strikeout, Jed Lowrie walked, and Colby Rasmus flew out. With two outs, Marwin Gonzalez singled and advanced Lowrie to second base. Castro stepped to the plate and, on a 1-2 count, blasted a walk-off home run into deep right field. Castro would follow up with another three-run home run the next night to left field.
The hot streak would continue, at least for his next two games, as he collected two hits in each of those games including a grand slam on Aug. 3 against the Texas Rangers. From the 4th of August through the 22nd, Castro would only manage four hits over 13 games and 42 plate appearances. He finished August on a high note, scattering six hits over four games until he was derailed by injury once more.
On Aug. 29, Castro hit a one-out double in the fifth inning, but limped into second base and came out of the game with a right quad strain. The Astros decided to place Jason Castro on the 15-day disabled list and recalled Max Stassi.
More from Climbing Tal's Hill
- Just how much better is the Houston Astros playoff rotation than the rest?
- Houston Astros: A Lineup Change to Spark Offense
- Astros prospect Hunter Brown throws 6 shutout innings in debut
- Always faithful Astros World Series champion Josh Reddick defends the title
- Michael Conforto declines Astros’ 2-year, $30 million offer
Castro would return on Sept. 17 but struggled to get anything going until the end of the season as he hit .146 with only one RBI, 19 Ks, and no extra base hits in 41 at-bats. The struggles carried into the postseason, but the team had no choice but to start him because of his defensive ability over Conger. In 18 postseason plate appearances, Castro had one hit – a two-RBI single into centerfield – and eight strikeouts.
On the 2015 season, Castro would finish with a career-low batting average (.211), on-base percentage (.283), struck out at a career-high 30% of his plate appearances and posted his lowest home run (11) and RBI (31) totals since 2012.
For most of the season, Castro was a hole in the Astros’ lineup, but his game management garnered high praise throughout the organization and league, and he was one of the best backstops in the game. A finalist for a Gold Glove award, Castro only made one error in 103 games and threw out a career-high 36% of runners attempting to steal on him (fifth best in the AL among catchers that played at least 80 games).
More Houston Astros Season Recaps:
- Vince Velasquez
- Tony Sipp
- Jonathan Villar
- Preston Tucker
- Mike Fiers
- Hank Conger
- Chad Qualls
- Jon Singleton
- Joe Thatcher
- Marwin Gonzalez
- Josh Fields
- Jake Marisnick
- Pat Neshek
- Jed Lowrie
- Luis Valbuena
- Scott Feldman
- Evan Gattis
- Will Harris
- Luke Gregerson
- Chris Carter
What to expect in 2016
Castro is the longest tenured player on the Houston Astros. 2016 will be his sixth season with the team, but this year may be his last. He will be a free agent after the upcoming season, and the team will have to decide on his future in the organization.
It’s not encouraging that a player entering his prime is hitting worse at 28 years old than he did only a few years ago. Don’t expect Castro to return to his 2013 form when he hit .276 and had a .351 BAbip, but it’s hard to imagine that he will hit as poorly as he did in 2015.
Castro continues to make progress behind the plate, though, and it’s his prowess playing the position that makes him an asset to the pitching staff and organization.