Jesus Castillo has been a starter. He's been a reliever. He's been a D-back, a Cub and now an Angel. Currently in his seventh Minor League season, he's finally a Pitcher of the Week.
The Angels' No. 11 prospect won his first career Pitcher of the Week award by capturing the Southern League honor after throwing seven no-hit innings last Wednesday for Double-A Mobile. He was the only Pitcher of the Week winner for April 23-29 not to yield a hit over that stretch.
It wasn't the stereotypical no-no attempt, however. Castillo ended with four strikeouts and a walk but didn't punch any Mississippi batter out until the sixth inning, forcing him to rely on contact through the early innings. But because he didn't have strikeouts running up his pitch count, the 22-year-old right-hander needed only 70 pitches (51 of which were strikes) to get through his seven frames before he was taken out with a zero still in the hit column. BayBears reliever Conor Lillis-White carried the no-no into the ninth before giving up a double to Tyler Marlette in the eventual 2-1 win.
• View the Offensive Player of the Week winners »
"I knew I had [a no-hitter] going," Castillo told MiLB.com's Michael Avallone on Wednesday. "Some of the fans and my teammates mentioned it to me earlier in the day. But I tried not to let that distract me. I wanted to keep my mind on the game. It's the same no matter what the situation, so I didn't try to do anything different."
The gem was the latest strong start in what's been a hot and cold 2018 for Castillo so far. The Venezuela native has allowed one earned run or fewer in three of his four starts, but a seven-run showing over three innings on April 11 has his season ERA sitting at 4.12 after last week. As was the case Wednesday against Mississippi, Castillo has struggled to get strikeouts in bunches; he's fanned only 10 in 19 2/3 innings and ranks 31st out of 33 qualified Southern League pitchers with a 13 percent K rate. However, he's generated a lot of weak contact with a .188 average-against that ranks fifth in the circuit and a 54.4 percent groundball rate that sits fourth. That all feeds into a 0.97 WHIP, second-best in the Southern League.
Video: Mobile's Castillo fires seven no-hit frames
It's Castillo's sinking fastball, which usually sits around 90 mph, that often stands out in scouting reports for its movement. He also sports a curveball and changeup that have both been given average 50 grades by MLB.com, but stands out for his ability to throw consistent strikes, as he did Wednesday. The 6-foot-2 hurler believes he's unlocked something in his mechanics that can help get the most out of his offerings and, potentially, keep more outings like Wednesday's coming in the future.
"I kept telling myself to stay closed on my front side," Castillo said. "It's something that we've been working on the last few weeks, and today was a good sign. Keeping my front closed helps my control and keeps my pitches going where I want them to. Well, most of the time, at least."
Below is the complete list of Minor League Pitchers of the Week for April 23-29:
||2-0, 0.69 ERA, 2 G, 2 GS, 13 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 14 K
||1-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 G, 1 GS, 8 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 HBP, 0 BB, 16 K
||1-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 G, 1 GS, 8 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K
||1-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 G, 1 GS, 7 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 HBP, 0 BB, 4 K
||1-0, 1.38 ERA, 2 G, 2 GS, 13 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, 12 K
||1-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 G, 1 GS, 6 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 8 K
||1-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 G, 1 GS, 6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 9 K
||2-0, 1.29 ERA, 2 G, 2 GS, 14 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 13 K
||0-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 G, 1 GS, 5 2/3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 HBP, 0 BB, 8 K
||1-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 G, 1 GS, 6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 7 K