Castro Looks Like Real Thing

added 6/27/2010 by Dr. Bill McCurdy

(This column is reprinted, with permission, from the Pecan Park Eagle.)

It may take him a while to take over the identity recognition in the general culture from that other "Jason Castro" fall-out musician from American Idol, but our guy should be able to do just fine building an early good name for himself in the big leagues as a first class catcher.

Born June 18, 1987 in Castro Valley, California, near San Francisco, the 6'3", 210-pound 23-year old jewel in our minor league prospect crown has joined the Astros playing roster.

He's only played the three-game San Francisco Giants series at home at this writing, but he has impressed on all levels for a rookie. His first ten at bats have produced three base hits, including his first major league homer; he bagged his first two gunner kills on attempted steals of second; he received "props" from the great Roy Oswalt for calling a near flawless game in their first work together as an Astros battery; he showed a field presence in responding to the media that simply oozes with intelligence and emotional maturity; and he paraded a physical athleticism is his ordinary movements that all add up as further evidence that we are looking at a real ballplayer out there on the field - one who can catch, throw, and hit the ball with any other of his position and has one of the sweetest lefty swings I've seen in a very long time.

We concede the fact that nothing quick is rarely the whole picture on the long trail of one man's playing career - and that time holds the answers on the final judgment of Jason Castro as a major league catcher. What we can see now, however, is that he seems to have the mental and physical tools for getting there and playing well for a long time.

The Giants series was especially enjoyable due to the presence of Castro's parents in the stands at Minute Maid Park for each of his first three games. The Stanford grad and his Bay Area family got to enjoy breaking into the big time in a series played against the team they all had followed throughout Jason's childhood years.

There was no doubt about the current placement of the Castro family allegiance. It's now with the Astros, of course. When Jason hit his first major league home run in Game Two, both parents leapt to their feet to cheer uproariously. By the time Castro rounded third, heading for home, his mom had gone through laughter, tears, smiles, and shouts - and she was now busily preparing to snap a photo of her kiddo as he touched home plate in the middle of his teammate reception committee.

Only a mother knows how to give full expression to the word "love" for her own child - no matter how old that kid may be.

Props also need to extend to Astros General Manager Ed Wade and his new scouting crew on this one too. Their first major draft pick, Jason Castro, looks like a winner at this point, even if any evaluation of him this early appears as meaningful as polishing the apple that already shines. The signs are good that this one will keep on shining.

Intelligence and ability are a great results combination when they work together and not against each other - and Castro has both working in the right direction from the git-go because of his emotional humility and a performance presence that belies his lack of actual big league experience.

Now we just have to watch how his abilities serve him - and how he adapts to the adjustments that big league pitchers, especially, will make to him over these first couple of years.

My guess is that Castro has the ability to put himself in contention for Rookie of the Year honors, but he may have started too late in 2010 to have a chance to do much other than use up his rookie status in a way that makes him ineligible for the honor in 2011.

That's OK. There are plenty of other honors waiting down the road that this young man is capable of earning on his own over time. As a Houston Astros fan, I'm just happy that Castro is our heir apparent catcher of the future and that, as of the just concluded Giants series, the future is now.

Go get some more of these guys, Ed Wade!