San Bernardino, California —— Entering play on Saturday night, Arizona Diamondbacks middle infield prospect Henry Castillo is slashing .223/.263/.306/.568 over 65 games with the High-A Visalia Rawhide in 2017, with 12 doubles, two home runs, 13 walks, and 84 strikeouts across 242 at-bats. I observed the 22-year-old Dominican a few dozen times in both 2016 and 2017, most recently in a June 5 road game at Inland Empire; below is Baseball Census‘ full Henry Castillo scouting report, including several videos.
Henry Castillo Scouting Report — Video
Our first video of Arizona Diamondbacks infield prospect Henry Castillo comes from a June 5, 2017 outing for Visalia against the Inland Empire 66ers, where he hit from both sides of the plate in day game action:
And our second Henry Castillo video comes from various points of his 2016 season, also spent with the High-A Visalia Rawhide:
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Henry Castillo Scouting Report — Notes
A year ago, Henry Castillo was a 21-year-old playing up a level in the Cal League and putting together a decent season considering his lack of high level experience (.258/.311/.417/.728 with 38 doubles and 12 home runs in 127 games for Visalia). Now, a year later, he’s a 22-year-old back in the Cal League—more age-appropriate for the level—and mystifyingly, he has completely lost his way. Castillo’s statistical struggles are obvious to see (through nearly 300 plate appearances this year, his OPS is just .568), and his stock has dropped considerably in a years’ time; the Arizona Diamondbacks #18 prospect entering play a year ago, he’s now fallen completely off the list (in a relatively weak farm system) and he has some work to do to get back on track.
A switch hitter, there’s some matchup immunity in Castillo’s game, but he struggles mightily to track pitches, work deep counts, and get on base via the walk (always low, his walk rate in 2017 is a mere 5.0% with just 13 free passes in 259 plate appearances). That’s really limiting him as an offensive threat right now, and combined with a total power outage relative to what had been growing last year, the second baseman has been limited to a station-to-station singles hitter who has scored only 18 runs in 65 games. There may be a mechanical issue behind this; Castillo has quite a bit of head movement between stance and stride, and the weight transfer that goes along with it makes his timing very inconsistent. He’s significantly better with it from the left side of the plate than the right, but both sides are heavily timing-dependent for him to find success, and his timing and pitch tracking have been off this summer. Add his below-average bat speed, and yeah — it’s been a tough year.
Defensively, Henry Castillo predominantly plays second base and third base, and those two positions are undoubtedly his best fits moving forward. His range is below average and he can get flat-footed in the field, even though his arm strength is above-average, and so he’s not ideal for a premium position like shortstop. He’ll need to prove that he can hit enough to play third, though, and so a utility infielder role or second base job may best be in his future.
Henry Castillo Scouting Report — Projection
Admittedly it’s kind of tough to see Henry Castillo like this. He didn’t have a world-beating summer or anything in 2016, but he was capable and competitive against a league more than a year his senior. Back in the Cal League for a second go-round now, he looks completely lost at the plate. There’s good news, of course; the second baseman is still only 22 years old (young for the Cal League), and the Arizona Diamondbacks don’t exactly have a deep system around Castillo that’ll leave him in the dust. But repeating a level and then doing markedly worse in the second year isn’t a good sign, either, and Castillo is struggling to take competitive at-bats and work deep counts right now well beyond just a tough slump or a less-than-stellar first half. If he can right the ship late this year and into 2018, he can get back on track thanks to his versatility both at the plate and in the field, but he’ll need to revert back to what he was doing in 2016 and then some to get back on the prospect radar.
Long term, Henry Castillo has a utility infielder ceiling, but that’s been blurred considerably with a very tough year in Visalia. Still young, the Arizona Diamondbacks have themselves a development project here who nevertheless has a good pedigree (Castillo already got time with Águilas in the Dominican Winter League in both of the last two offseasons). There’s a lot of work to be done, though—a disappointing restart for a guy who flashed line drive gap power from both sides of the plate just a season ago. If he significantly improves patience and pitch recognition at the plate, Henry Castillo could turn himself into a mediocre bench role guy in the big leagues, but there are miles to go between that end goal and the position in which he now finds himself.