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Prospect Castillo to start Friday against Nats

Reds dip into Double-A pitching; Bailey to start Saturday
MLB.com @m_sheldon

ST. PETERSBURG -- To fill one of their open rotation spots on Friday vs. the Nationals, the Reds are bypassing starting pitchers at Triple-A Louisville they've seen before in the big leagues.

The starter will be right-handed prospect Luis Castillo, 24, who will get his first Major League promotion when he arrives from Double-A Pensacola. Castillo was acquired in January in a four-player trade that sent Dan Straily to the Marlins. Castillo is the club's No. 5 prospect, according to MLBPipeline.com.

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ST. PETERSBURG -- To fill one of their open rotation spots on Friday vs. the Nationals, the Reds are bypassing starting pitchers at Triple-A Louisville they've seen before in the big leagues.

The starter will be right-handed prospect Luis Castillo, 24, who will get his first Major League promotion when he arrives from Double-A Pensacola. Castillo was acquired in January in a four-player trade that sent Dan Straily to the Marlins. Castillo is the club's No. 5 prospect, according to MLBPipeline.com.

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"He's throwing good stuff, he's throwing strikes. That's really what we need," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "That doesn't mean that's how it's going to translate here, it can be even better in the big leagues than he's been in Double-A with a big league defense behind him on a big league field. What's jumping off the page is not just the ERA, which is nice, but it's the fact that he's commanding the strike zone. He's throwing three pitches over."

After the Reds' 8-3 loss to the Rays, Price said Homer Bailey is slated to pitch on Saturday and make his 2017 debut. Bailey has been on the disabled list all season after he had bone spurs surgically removed from his elbow. Scott Feldman is scheduled to start Sunday.

In his 14 starts for Pensacola, Castillo is 4-4 with a 2.58 ERA and 1.01 WHIP over 80 1/3 innings. The big stat that jumps out -- 13 walks compared to 81 strikeouts.

"He's competing in the strike zone. Tyler Mahle the same [thing], but he's not on the roster," Price said. "He's another guy that beyond the 1.50 ERA, you look at the walks-to-innings-pitched number and it's outstanding. We'll defend. We can really defend as a team. You've got to get the ball in play and let the guys play behind you."

Candidates at Louisville like Robert Stephenson and Cody Reed have been prone to walks. Stephenson has a 0.69 ERA in three starts since he was sent down, but has 10 walks and 11 strikeouts in 13 innings. Reed has a 2.36 ERA in nine starts but has 28 walks with 51 strikeouts in 49 2/3 innings.

There was also Sal Romano at Louisville, but he issued five walks and five runs over one inning in his last start while throwing 51 pitches.

Was the organization sending a message to its Louisville pitchers? Sort of but not entirely.

"Maybe to a certain degree," Price said. "We sent Cody and Robert down to Triple-A to really focus on repeating their delivery. I think this isn't so much a direct message to those guys. It is really wanting them to settle in there and let them get on a really nice roll -- it doesn't mean if you throw two or three good ballgames and that means you're ready to come back.

"I think we really want them to cement their deliveries, nail their deliveries and have a string of outings where they're really on top of their game and they're just way better than the league, the command shows up and our staff and our scouts that see them and say 'this guy's locked in, he's commanding the ball the way that we expect him to be effective as a big league pitcher.' When we get those reports, they'll be a stronger consideration to come up and pitch for us again."

Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Cincinnati Reds, Luis Castillo