Over the offseason, Camden Chat published an article about each member of the Orioles 40-man roster. During the 2022 season, we will update on new arrivals after they make it to the roster.
How he arrived: Waiver claim from Cleveland Guardians, 9/3/22
Who left: Phoenix Sanders designated for assignment, 9/3/22
The Orioles have assembled a solid bullpen this year out of players who arrived in the organization by waiver claim. Some of these guys have been better than others, but as a group the Orioles are where they are thanks to this bunch: Bryan Baker, Joey Krehbiel, Jorge López, and Cionel Pérez. Though the O’s are no longer at the top of the waiver wire priority list, Mike Elias has not stopped trying to mine this vein for some kind of useful piece.
The latest arrival is Anthony Castro, a 27-year-old righty reliever from Venezuela who brings 38 games of big league experience into the organization. Castro is the eighth pitcher claimed by the O’s since the 2022 campaign began. One of these, Austin Voth, has carved out a role for himself. The others have mostly been one-or-two-and-done relief depth guys. The O’s elite talent pipeline has not yet generated a steady supply of internal reliever options, so they keep looking elsewhere. Finding relievers from other teams may well be the philosophe.
A very simple demonstration of this kind of “wave while walking through the revolving door without actually stopping and getting out” tenure is the guy Castro replaced on the 40-man roster, Phoenix Sanders. He was claimed, sent to the minors, and waived within two weeks. Unless, like me, you lodged Sanders in your memory because his first name is Phoenix, you probably forgot about him.
Castro’s contact with the MLB level up until now has not been very successful. His 38 games have left him with a 6.00 ERA. That’s been fueled largely by his having a 7.43 ERA in 12 games this season. Not every pitcher is going to turn into Voth, but Voth going from a 5.70 career ERA pitcher, and 10.13 this season before joining the Orioles, to what we’ve seen from him, shows that the Orioles can pull off the revival, sometimes. Most will not be revied, but you don’t know until you try.
There are some strengths for Castro amidst the challenges. For his career, he’s working with a ground ball rate of 48.2%. Ground balls are good! He’s also shown the capability to be a strikeout pitcher. Last year with the Blue Jays, Castro struck out 32 batters in 24.2 innings, and he had a K/BB ratio of 4. The Orioles perhaps think they can work with that, along with Castro’s 73rd percentile fastball velocity and 86th percentile fastball spin rate.
If there was more good news in Castro’s performance, I would share it. There isn’t. His smaller 2022 sample slipped substantially, with his strikeout rate falling by more than a third and his walk rate more than doubling. The command problem was matched even at the Triple-A level, where Castro walked 20 batters in 29.2 innings this season. Castro’s also been bitten by the home run bug. He gave up five home runs in his limited MLB action this season.
Given all of that, it seems more likely that Castro is seen as more of a medium-term development project at best, not a short-term option. Ship him to Norfolk, maybe tweak his pitch mix, maybe change up a couple of other small things, and see what starts happening.
Most of the O’s pitcher waiver claims this season have been relievers who’ve been asked to cover gaps when a fresh arm was needed at the MLB level. Beau Sulser, Louis Head, Logan Allen. You don’t need to buy one of their jerseys unless you’re one of those people who enjoys the weird irony of wearing an ultra-obscure jersey. Castro seems likely to fit into this group, if he doesn’t end up in the Sanders group of being waived again before he even pitches at the MLB level for the team once.
According to the Roster Resource depth charts, Castro is on his final minor league option year this season. That means that if he’s still hanging around on the 40-man roster at the end of spring training next year, he’ll have to either make the MLB team or be passed through waivers.
Still to come: Jake Reed