PHOENIX -- Brewers prospect Victor Castaneda is off to a good start in the Arizona Fall League and his performance during the next month could help shape the course of his career.
That strong start earned him the Arizona Fall League Pitcher of the Week Award for the first week of play.
“I feel like I had a good week and God willing, I can keep demonstrating my talent,” said Castaneda, 21, who signed with the Brewers out of Mexico in 2017 for $40,000. “I just want to finish this league as strong as I can. My goal here is to make it to the All-Star Game.”
In his first appearance of Arizona Fall League play Saturday, Castaneda struck out six and walked one batter while not allowing a hit in four innings against the Scottsdale Scorpions. He struck out the side in the third.
“Winning the Pitcher of the Week is outstanding,” Brewers farm director Tom Flanagan said. “I know there are a lot of good arms out there and that’s a tough environment for pitching. To claim one of those, especially in week one, is about as well as we could have hoped for him starting out. It’s definitely well-deserved.”
During the regular season, Castaneda went 4-2 with a 4.50 ERA in 44 innings for Class A Wisconsin in the Midwest League. He struck out 53 and walked 14 while pitching primarily out of the bullpen. The Timber Rattlers stretched him out at end of the season to prepare him for a starter role in the AFL.
“He had a breakout year for us,” Flanagan said. “He was a guy coming into the year that had shown some good flashes of things, but this year, his velocity bumped up a little bit in the bullpen for us and he showed us some things.”
Castaneda’s best pitch is his splitter, but his fastball has also improved. His changeup has developed into an important part of his arsenal. He still has work to do, thus why the club sent him to Arizona.
“What we are looking to do in the Fall League for him is try to learn a little bit more about what his ultimate role will be. Is he a 'pen guy or can he pull it off in the rotation?” Flanagan said. “He has the makings of four pitches. The biggest one he has to work on is his slider, and it will be the pitch he’s going to need if he can pull off being a starter.”
The young prospect will have plenty of help developing the pitch this fall. Wisconsin pitching coach Jim Henderson is also the pitching coach for the Desert Dogs.
“This is a big moment for him to get some higher competition in and see how he matches up against these guys,” Henderson said. “If we can just develop a few more pitches, as well as stretch him out a bit and maintain that velocity [that will be beneficial]. He’s doing a good job of working out and getting stronger as well.”
Castaneda’s next test will come Saturday when he takes the mound at Peoria.
“We’ll give it a shot for six weeks in the Fall League and have a little bit more information,” Flanagan said. “It’s not like we have to make a final decision. He’s still 21, but it’s good to have more information on him coming into next spring as we figure out which direction that we want to go for 2020 and beyond.”