Signing with the Detroit Tigers as an international free agent in 2011, pitcher Anthony Castro has worked his way through almost every level of the Tigers farm system before joining the Toronto Blue Jays this off-season. The 25-year-old would make his MLB debut last season for the Tigers, pitching one inning while giving up one home run, two earned runs, and one strikeout with one walk in the short outing.
In a move to make room for the Rule 5 draft (where they selected outfielder Akil Baddoo from the Twins organization), Castro was designated for assignment (DFA) this winter and was picked up by the Toronto Blue Jays on December 7th. The organization would DFA Castro a month and a half later, but no other team selected the Venezuelan native and he would be taken off the Blue Jays 40-man roster.
As a non-roster invite to the Blue Jays spring camp this season, the right-hander is already performing well in the short sample size. In three games, Castro has pitched to a 2.70 ERA with six strikeouts, one walk, and a 0.60 WHIP in 3.1 innings of work while keeping opponents to a .167 batting average. For his minor league career, he has accumulated a 3.48 ERA with 521 strikeouts and a 1.301 WHIP while appearing in 123 games (108 starts) and pitching 556.2 innings. The prospect pitcher also underwent Tommy John surgery back in 2014/2015 and has remained relatively healthy since then being primarily used as a starter until 2019.
Unfortunately for Castro, making the Blue Jays bullpen will be a bit challenging given a few conditions out of his control that he has to deal with.
The Venezuelan native has two minor league options to his name, meaning the Blue Jays could have him ride the options bus between the alternate training site/AAA all season rather than be a permanent roster fixture. This would be useful if bullpen pitchers become overworked or injured, meaning Castro could come in fresh and then be sent back down without worry of losing him to another team. While this could benefit the Blue Jays, Castro would have to deal with being sent between the two sites/leagues, which isn’t the end of the world but is not as glorious as being in the bullpen full time.
Another condition limiting Castro from making the opening day roster is that he is a non-roster invite because that the Blue Jays designated him for assignment back in January. In order for him to join the active roster, he would need to be added to the 40-man roster meaning someone would have to be DFA’d in his place. This could be a difficult task if other pitchers/players are performing well or are considered too valuable to be designated with the potential of being lost to another team via waivers.
While the road to the Blue Jays roster may be difficult and the sample size is small for Castro’s spring stats, the best thing he can do is keep performing well this spring and force the Blue Jays to find a spot for him on the roster. Management still has over three weeks of spring training games before any final roster decisions need to be made, so Castro has some time to keep adding to his resume before the end of camp.
He is up against some tough competition with the other non-roster invites as well as some of the other Blue Jays prospects performing well during the first week of games, so the best thing Castro can do is to continue to throw quality innings and getting the Blue Jays out of tough situations as he did in his first appearance this spring. In doing so, Castro could find himself being one of the prospects that fights his way onto the opening day roster when the Blue Jays role into New York City on April 1.