Castro earns first save hours after being given closer duties
Blue Jays rookie right-hander continues quick career trajectory
NEW YORK -- Right-hander Miguel Castro continued his improbable journey through baseball Thursday night by recording the first save of his career.
Castro pitched a clean ninth inning to close out Toronto's 6-3 victory over the Yankees. It's a role he might have to get used to after it was revealed earlier in the day that the Blue Jays had taken the full-time closer's job away from Brett Cecil.
The 20-year-old Castro has been on quite the trajectory for the past couple of months. He arrived at Spring Training as a longshot to crack the big league roster and now finds himself as the closer for a team with aspirations for the postseason.
"I didn't feel any different, I was on the mound and all I had to do was locate my pitches," Castro said through interpreter Luis Rivera. "I hope to continue to do the things I was doing before and I look forward to doing it."
Castro had never even pitched above Class A prior to this year but that hasn't stopped the Blue Jays from moving him along at lightning-quick speed. The love affair between the two is understandable, considering Toronto's glaring need for help in the bullpen and Castro's overpowering skills.
The Dominican native possesses upper-90s velocity on his fastball and also has a devastating high-80s changeup that has similar downward action to that of a splitter. In three innings this season, Castro has yet to allow a hit while striking out two and walking one.
Manager John Gibbons talked a lot this spring about how he didn't think there was anything that fazed Castro on the mound. He referred to it as a "slow heartbeat," but what has impressed him the most is the consistent command of his pitches.
"He's a strike thrower," Gibbons said. "Those guys who come in late, throw strikes, have great arms, they're going to be pretty good."
There will be some who suggest the Blue Jays are putting too much pressure on Castro at this stage of his career, but Gibbons believes the hard thrower won't be negatively affected by the latest promotion. That certainly appeared to be the case Thursday.
"The whole idea coming into the season, he was great in Spring Training, but you still wanted to see when the season starts," Gibbons said. "He's had two appearances, he's looked really good. You want to see how he handles it."