The Arizona Fall League announced its All-Star teams on Tuesday, and the Detroit Tigers did place one player on the squad. Starting pitcher Anthony Castro will represent the Tigers on Saturday, October 12 as the East and West teams match up in what amounts to a smaller scale MLB Futures game.
Castro is currently the 19th ranked prospect on our midseason re-ranking of the Tigers farm system. The 24-year-old righthander put together a strong 2019 campaign despite difficult circumstances as he bounced back and forth between the rotation and the bullpen for the Double-A Erie SeaWolves. Ultimately, Castro made 18 starts out of his 27 total appearances and threw 102 1⁄3 innings of work.
Castro is coming off a season in which he successfully made the jump to the Double-A level. Along the way, he refined his slider into a more consistently devastating offering than we’ve seen in years past. That development saw his strikeout rate spike to 26.5 percent as compared to the 20.2 percent mark he posted in High-A back in 2018. Castro once again did a nice job limiting home runs and hard contact overall, but continued to surrender too many walks, leading many to the conclusion that a long-expected transition to a full-time relief role is nigh.
So far, Castro’s results in the Arizona Fall League have felt very typical. He’s made four short starts totaling 11 2⁄3 innings of work. Other than a two-run homer by top catching prospect Joey Bart, Castro hasn’t allowed much in the way of hard contact. He’s also punched out 12 hitters to keep his rate slightly above a batter per inning. But, Castro has also allowed seven walks and struggled a bit with runners on base. He currently holds a 5.40 ERA.
The stuff remains impressive. The control continues to need more work.
Of course, Castro isn’t the only Tigers prospect plying their trade in the Arizona sunshine, nor even the most notable. Isaac Paredes would hold that distinction as the Tigers top ranked prospect in the Arizona Fall League. BYB’s fourth ranked prospect in the farm system, Paredes has had no issues doing what he does best out west.
The power hasn’t waxed as one would hope, as Paredes has just one home run and four total extra base hits, but he’s continued to get on base with no issues. Through 54 plate appearances, he holds a walk rate of 15 percent, which is excellent, and a big reason why Paredes currently sports a fantastic .361 on base percentage (OBP) in the AFL. On the other hand, he currently holds a strikeout rate of 24 percent, which is rather high for a player who struck out just 11.1 percent of the time with the Double-A Erie SeaWolves this season. In such a small sample of games none of this means much other than to illustrate the 20-year-old’s precocious knack for laying off bad pitches.
Center fielders Derek Hill and Jose Azocar haven’t done quite as well as their more illustrious teammate. Hill has an inside the park home run and four extra base hits total in just eight games played, but has struck out almost a third of the time thus far. Azocar’s strikeout to walk numbers are much better than Hill’s, but he has just one extra base hit in seven games played. Nothing unusual here, but neither player has made a statement to differentiate himself from the other as the Tigers consider who to protect on their 40-man roster heading into 2020.
Hard throwing righthander Wladimir Pinto is off to a nice start through four appearances. He’s got five strikeouts to one walk in five innings of work. He holds a 1.80 ERA. The key for Pinto making a major league debut in relief next season is refining his control, so seeing those walks stay low is really the only notable number.
Reliever Alex Lange has done a nice job racking up strikeouts, with 10 punchouts to just one walk in 6 2⁄3 innings against more advanced competition than he’s used to facing. A three-run outing on October 4 has held down his overall numbers, and Lange currently holds a 5.40 ERA.
Will Vest has held his own in relief as well. Vest has a pair of saves and six strikeouts to two walks in 6 1⁄3 innings of work. Right-hander Billy Lescher has only faced one hitter so far. However, he did strike that hitter out.