DENVER -- Back in Spring Training, Giants manager Gabe Kapler had high praise for pitching prospect Kervin Castro, who stood out for the pace and poise he showed on the mound.
"That is a future Major League pitcher," Kapler said following one of Castro’s Cactus League outings in March.
Kapler’s prediction came true on Monday, when the Giants called up the 22-year-old Castro ahead of their series opener against the Rockies at Coors Field. Castro, who is now the youngest player on the Giants’ active roster, will add a fresh arm to San Francisco’s weary bullpen, which sent nine relievers to the mound in Sunday’s 6-4 win over the Dodgers.
To clear a spot for Castro on the 28-man roster, the Giants optioned fellow right-hander Jay Jackson to Triple-A Sacramento. Castro is poised to make his Major League debut and could serve as a multi-inning relief option behind Kevin Gausman, who was slated to start opposite Rockies lefty Kyle Freeland on Monday.
A converted catcher, Castro signed with the Giants for $100,000 out of his native Venezuela in July 2015. He missed two professional seasons due to Tommy John surgery and the coronavirus pandemic, but he earned a spot on the Giants’ 40-man roster in November following an impressive showing at instructional league last fall.
Castro hadn’t pitched above the Low-A level prior to this year, but he opened the 2021 season at Triple-A Sacramento and posted a 2.86 ERA with 60 strikeouts and 22 walks over 44 innings. He pairs a mid-to-upper 90s fastball with a power curveball and is known for his ability to work quickly on the mound.
“What I think is interesting is that he’s among the league leaders in various categories if you filter by number of innings, but he’s a real outlier from an age standpoint,” Kapler said Monday. “Most of the dudes on that list are 25, 26, sometimes 27. Kervin is 22. What that tells me is that he’s really held his own and performed well and situations don’t seem huge for him. He’s able to manage that having not spent a lot of time at the upper levels.”
With Johnny Cueto (right elbow strain) and Alex Wood (COVID-19) on the injured list, the Giants were forced to use two bullpen games against the Dodgers this past weekend, leaving most of the club’s regular relievers taxed. Tyler Rogers, who has pitched in four of the last five days, and Jake McGee, who has pitched in three of the last four days, were likely unavailable Monday, and Zack Littell, José Álvarez and José Quintana have each pitched on back-to-back days as well.
Logan Webb and Anthony DeSclafani are scheduled to face the Rockies on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively, but Kapler said he wasn’t prepared to announce any pitching plans for the Giants’ upcoming series against the Cubs this weekend. Left-hander Scott Kazmir, who made three appearances for San Francisco before being designated for assignment earlier this year, could be an option out of the rotation or the bullpen down the stretch, according to Kapler. Kazmir, 37, rejoined the River Cats after helping Team USA win a silver medal at the Tokyo Olympics last month and gave up three runs (two earned) over four innings in his most recent outing on Thursday.