Castro continues to build case with stellar outing

Young right-hander tosses 2 2/3 scoreless innings in win over Yankees

Castro continues to build case with stellar outing

TAMPA, Fla. -- Miguel Castro faced his biggest test of the spring on Tuesday night and just like all of the ones that came before, he passed with flying colors.

Castro tossed an effortless 2 2/3 innings against a Yankees lineup that featured Brett Gardner, Alex Rodriguez, Carlos Beltran and Mark Teixeira. The hard-throwing righty didn't allow a baserunner, struck out two and threw 21 of his 34 pitches for strikes.

It was another dominating performance in what has become an almost perfect debut to his rookie Grapefruit League season. Castro hasn't even pitched above Class A before, but the Dominican native looks like he belongs and appears to have the inside track at a big league job this spring.

"He has a great arm, he looks like a seasoned vet out there, under control, very relaxed," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said after the outing. "You look at what kind of arm he's got, you know it's there. ... The better the hitter, it can only help him. It's only Spring Training, but it's a little more experience against the better hitters."

Castro threw almost exclusively fastballs in his previous four outings this spring, but the extended relief appearance against New York gave him an opportunity to use everything. Castro threw several really effective changeups and also used a couple of sliders that weren't as impressive, but showed signs of promise.

The radar gun on YES Network had Castro sitting 96-97 mph with his fastball and he topped out at 99. The changeup ranged from 83-87 mph and had late downward action in the zone that kept hitters off balance and swinging over the top of it. The only hard contact was a line drive by Didi Gregorius that was hit directly at shortstop Jose Reyes.

Castro has been so effective that Alex Anthopoulos was asked if there was any way that he could be left off the team at the end of camp. Toronto's GM didn't take the bait, but despite what he might say publicly, there's not much doubt left that it's Castro's job to lose.

"We just want to continue to watch him," Anthopoulos said. "Especially as we get deeper into Spring Training. I've been through enough Spring Trainings now that you can't ignore what you see early because it's what you see and it's what you talk about.

"But you can make some mistakes, in my opinion, where a guy's not performing as well down the stretch, but you continue to cling to what you saw early. Most times you should look for the other way around."

Castro started strong, and if Tuesday night was any indication, he's going to finish strong too. Fittingly, Gibbons said: "Maybe he can be our [Dellin] Betances this year."

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.