Castro passes first test with a good night behind, and at, the plate.

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A lot of emphasis is placed on what happens during Spring Training, because with five months of nothingness leading up to report day, it’s the only thing available to us to make observations and judgments.

There’s always anticipation to see who makes the coveted Opening Day roster, but while only 25 players can make that first team, inevitably, as the season progresses, many, many players who are cut during the spring show up in the big leagues at some point.

Three months ago, J.R. Towles beat out Jason Castro for the front-line catching job. But today, Towles is with the Double-A team and Castro is an Astro. As far as debuts go, Castro gets an A-plus.

Castro singled in his very first Major League at-bat and threw out two would-be base stealers, but it’s not just his basic stats that were impressive. It’s how he handled himself amid the hoopla that is unavoidable when a former No. 1 Draft picks shows up in the big leagues for the first time.

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The Astros called up three from Round Rock, but taking nothing away from Chris Johnson and Jason Bourgeois, the lion’s share of the media attention was directed toward Castro, the Stanford-educated catcher whom the Astros are hoping can fill a void that has remained empty since the departure of the defensively-savvy Brad Ausmus.

Castro handled the media crush with the ease of a veteran. He spoke with an even tone, answered the questions concisely and calmly and seemed completely comfortable with the attention. He also appeared to be focused when he took the field, and while I’m sure he had quite the adrenaline rush going, he didn’t lose focus.

No one knows how Castro will fare over the long haul and we have to be careful not to put too much emphasis on one game. But singling off one of the best pitchers in the game and throwing two lasers to second base is a pretty good way to start a career.

Images from Tuesday at Minute Maid Park:

Jason Bourgeois will serve as a backup outfielder, in the same capacity as Cory Sullivan. Bourgeois was Round Rock’s most consistent hitter this year.

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The good thing about the young prospects being in big league camp during Spring Training is the familiarity they have with the Major League coaching staff. Castro was reunited with bullpen coach Jamie Quirk, who worked with the catchers all spring.

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Before Tuesday’s game, manager Brad Mills told Pedro Feliz that Chris Johnson, seen below, will take over the main starting duties at third base.

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Hunter Pence chats with Michael Bourn around the cage during batting practice.

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A familiar sight: Pence signing autographs.

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Bourn and Berkman during BP.

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3 Comments

We were ALL impressed with our new catcher! He worked
very well with Roy tonight, and it looked like Roy liked
the way Castro worked as well. I wonder how Feliz took
the news that Chris Johnson would be the new third
baseman? I for one am THRILLED to see young, hungry
guys playing on this team! Thanks for the pictures!! :) :)
Becky

This is the most exciting week since opening day. Finally they got ‘it’. Finally the front office realized that some things need to change, starting with our prospects. Now i have three reasons to turn my TV on, three reasons why I paid $200 for MLB extra inning, three reasons to believe that they have finally started the rebuilding process. ’twas about time! No more Feliz signing! No more Cash signing!, no more Sullivan signing! Let our prospects play, get big league experience, and give us a real shot in a few years.

Assuming for a moment that Oswalt and/or Berkman are traded this year, is there a first baseman worth trading for, even who is currently in the minors, who can replace Puma? If so, presto we have an all new infield and 2 pretty good young outfileders.
In 2 years we can contend as we build a new pitching staff.

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