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Scouting Analysis: Heath Castle
If you're a left-handed pitcher in any farm system, you are always going to get a fair shot to make a name for yourself. And, despite having a rather dismal professional career, Castle has opened some eyes here in 2005, posting an ERA south of two.
If he continues to put up solid numbers, the southpaw reliever may earn his keep and find himself moving up the minor league ladder rather quickly. Still flying under the radar at this point in his career, Castle has been all that the Yankees could have could have hoped for while pitching with Tampa so far this season.
Mechanical Strengths. Not only does he have a good fastball in the low-90's, but Heath Castle also adds some deception with sound mechanics. By hooking the ball behind his back before raising it to his release point, the hitters have less time to see the ball before the southpaw releases it.
Also, Castle knows how to use leverage. He stands up straight in his delivery and throws down hill. Throwing pretty much over the top, Castle is not the natural killer against lefty hitters. However, he has good leg drive toward the plate, using his thick lower half to his advantage.
Mechanical Flaws. Believe it or not, some of Heath Castle's biggest strengths on the mound are actually some of his most glaring weaknesses. First, when he strides into his power position, his arm never gets into throwing position behind his head. Instead, his arm hooks behind his back. While it does make it difficult for opposing hitters to pick up the ball, it also effects Castle's control as he tends to leave the ball up in the zone.
Also, like many left handed relievers, he tends to spin away from his pitches and throw across his body. It comes down to his arm draft though. By letting his arm drag behind his body, he adds deception but sacrifices velocity.
Repertoire Strengths. For the most part, Heath Castle likes to pound the zone with his good fastball. If he can put it over the plate, he can make quick work of the hitters once he comes back with an off speed pitch. However, he should use his strength, his good moving fastball, to his advantage even more often to compensate for less that dominant off-speed stuff. His breaking ball has come along strong, however.
Repertoire Weaknesses. There's a reason that Heath Castle is now a reliever and no longer a starting pitcher like he was in college. His repertoire is not deep enough to take give him multiple trips through the batting order. But it is deep enough to come in for an inning of work. If his breaking ball develops into an even better pitch, he could develop into the lefty specialist he has the potential to be.
Notes. Perhaps the reason that Heath Castle isn't more highly touted as a future possibility for the Yankees out of the bullpen is that he really doesn't shut down left handed hitters. While he does a solid job, holding southpaws to a .243 batting average, the numbers don't exactly scream "lefty specialist."
However, being that he is equally as tough on right-handed hitters, he becomes much more interesting. Scouts like his live fastball and deceptive delivery and it may project quite well at the big league level. But, he'll need to be more aggressive with his fastball because, right now, his walk totals are too high at this point.
What Scouts Look For. Pitchability is a huge asset for Heath Castle. His stuff is not of the caliber to overmatch hitters but scouts are impressed with his pure pitching savvy. However, that may not be able to carry him all the way through the system. Right now, he does not totally neutralize lefty hitters and scouts will look for him to improve his breaking ball or come inside more with his fastball to make lefties a bit more uneasy in the box against him.
If he can learn to become even more confident in a live fastball, he could project to have an Alan Embree type of fastball, but not quite the outstanding fastball. Either way, he'll need to prove he can torment lefty hitters or continue to prove he can get righties out as well.
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