Tigers Prospect Anthony Castro on Venezuela

Anthony Castro is emerging as one of the top pitching prospects in the Detroit Tigers organization. Two years removed from Tommy John surgery and armed with plus stuff, the 22-year-old right-hander is 9-4 with a 2.70 ERA in 18 starts for the Low-A West Michigan Whitecaps.

Following his last outing, a coach for the opposing team was highly complimentary of Castro’s cutter, which is actually a mid-90s four-seam fastball that has natural cutting action. As the native of Caracas, Venezuela, explained, “It just comes out that way. That’s crazy.”

It’s not crazy to believe he’s ready to prove himself at the next level. As the aforementioned coach told me, “I’m not sure why the kid is still in the Midwest League.”

Castro has taken his family out of their homeland, and for perfectly understandable reasons: with the situation in Venezuela growing increasingly worse, the youngster feared for their safety and well-being.

“I’ve moved my parents to the Dominican Republic,” a somber Castro told me. “That was a few months ago. The situation in my country is really bad. I don’t make a lot of money, but when I first signed to play pro baseball [in 2011], I knew that I didn’t need to spend all the money. I saved some of it, and I’ve been saving money this whole season. Now we are living down there; I rent a house down there.

“It is really hard to leave your country, and sometimes when I talk to my mom she says she misses her house. I say, ‘Mom, but we are safe now. That is the principal thing. That is what we need to care about, that we are safe and healthy, and have food.’ In Venezuela right now — I have to be honest — it is nothing comparable to 10 years ago. It is something really sad.”

Baseball is also being compromised in the crisis-ridden country. While nowhere near as important as the real-life hardships being endured by millions of people, the sport is nonetheless a Venezuelan staple. When I asked Castro about it, he answered with a solemn shake of the head.

“It is sad for baseball, too,” he told me. “I don’t want to say the government, but… I think it is their fault. Yes. We had a Venezuelan summer league — I played two years there — and there is no Venezuelan Summer League anymore. All of my teammates and my coaches moved to the Dominican Republic. Now we have a big team there. And now the Detroit Tigers, the GCL Tigers, have two teams in Florida, because of what happened with the government down there. We are also not going to have winter baseball in my country. Yes, it is really bad.”

Castro is glad that several Venezuelan-born big-league players have been speaking out about the political turmoil, but he’s not sure that it does much good. As he put it, “What is happening right now in Venezuela is a war zone. What a couple of famous players are saying can’t do very much. My country… I hope that everything can get better in the next few years, because I worry that it’s going to happen like Cuba. They have like 60 years of doing the same. They can’t change, they can’t vote for another president. I think we are very, very close to that. It is sad.”





David Laurila grew up in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and now writes about baseball from his home in Cambridge, Mass. He authored the Prospectus Q&A series at Baseball Prospectus from December 2006-May 2011 before being claimed off waivers by FanGraphs. He can be followed on Twitter @DavidLaurilaQA.

newest oldest most voted
jdbolick
Member

I can’t imagine the difficulty of trying to work in a different country when your native one is experiencing such turmoil. I wish the best for the people of Venezuela.

edgcar
Member
edgcar

His situation got improved once his family is living outside of Venezuela. There’s nothing like living there and experiencing everything first hand. For an expatriate, the worst scenario is actually having family still living back home. The constant worry and uncertainty takes a toll.