I actually like Lendy Castillo a fair bit.
Lendy Castillo was signed by the Philadelphia Phillies in 2006… as a shortstop. He actually showed considerable promise on the defensive side, but could not hit to save his life.
2007: 684 OPS
2008: 566 OPS
2009: 453 OPS
After it was apparently there was no way he was going to hack it even as an all-glove shortstop, the Phillies ended up moving Lendy to the pitching staff (he was just 21 when they started – signed at 18). As a pitcher, he showed some promise in his first year, working up to A- (albeit barely). As a 22-year old, he threw 46 innings of 2.54 ball with 9 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9, adequate numbers for a player in just his second year of pitching.
The Phillies left Lendy unprotected in the Rule V that year, and the Cubs selected him. Chicago barely used him even for a Rule V guy, with 13 appearances and 16 innings in the majors. It wasn't very pretty, but it was an awful sample size and I'm not that worried about it. He did, however, walk the opposing team's pitcher on 4 pitches once. That's no good. Castillo also got "hurt," and the Cubs stashed him in the minors for rehab assignments also- it was another 20 SSS innings where he absolutely dominated.
Castillo is a pitching neophyte, and as such he does not feature many pitches. In the majors this year, Castillo sported a fastball, slider, cutter (using very sparingly, maybe one or two per outing) and one change (which was likely just a hanging slider or something – it was thrown for a ball). None of his pitches were effective last year, save the cutter he threw only 25 times all year. The pitches aren't refined at all, and he doesn't fool anyone, yet (no one swing at pitches out of the zone; they always swing at them in the zone; they usually always make contact).
All of this doesn't make a compelling argument as to why he's worth a 40-man roster spot. I'm not sure I can make one, either; however, he has some interesting skills. He can touch 96 with his fastball and 87 with his slider (he averages 92 and 83 with them). His biggest hurdle to success his un-straightening his fastball, which basically is an arrow at this point. I think that will hopefully come with more instruction.
On nearly any other team, I'd say that Lendy Castillo definitely does not deserve a roster spot. On a team like the Cubs (from a standpoint of talent), I almost still can't make the case. He's a project reliever with fairly high upside and a low, low floor. However, I think he's got a fairly high ceiling. He's shown an ability to strike people out at all levels while minimizing his walks, especially for a guy with almost no experience. As he refines his repertoire, it's not too difficult to imagine Castillo developing into an 8th-inning guy, or even a 5th-starter type. That will depend on his tightening that fastball and getting some more movement/better placement. If the Cubs waived Castillo, I don't think he'd clear waivers, so the Cubs are going to have to measure his upside against their current redundancy of fringey pitching on the 40-man roster. I'm not sure where he'll end up when the season begins. In spite of his 2012 troubles, I kinda hope he sticks.
Did You Know?
Lendy was used on no days rest only once last year, on one day once, and two days twice. The other outings? 4, 5, 5, 6, 9, 14, 19, and 94.
The Cubs were 0-13 in games that Lendy appeared.
Lendy appeared in 5 games against the Brewers, and no more than once against any other team.
Lendy Castillo = Stole ill candy