Sunday, March 2, 2014
#467) JUAN CASTILLO
Castillo was summoned from Binghamton to New York on July 26, 1994. Starting pitcher Pete Smith was suffering shoulder stiffness and had been placed on the 15-day disabled list. The scenario set up Juan's major league debut later that night. Castillo was the starting pitcher at Busch Stadium and lasted five innings facing the St. Louis Cardinals. He worked methodically allowing only one hit per inning through the first four frames. The Cards gathered two hits in the fifth, and Todd Zeile would end Juan's night with a three-run home run to right off a high fastball. Castillo earned a no-decision when the Mets rallied to win the game 10-9 in extra innings.
Juan would get one more start before being optioned to Triple-A Norfolk on August 2, 1994. He finished his major league time with a 6.94 ERA in 11.2 innings over those two appearances. Major League Baseball began their most infamous work stoppage on August 12th of that year. The entire season was lost and the World Series cancelled. When things became apparent there was to be no quick resolution teams began to send their players to foreign countries to play winter baseball there. "It's been a little more difficult this year because a lot of Latin-American teams are waiting to see if they can get some of the major league-caliber baseball players to play there because of the strike," said Steve Phillips, the director of minor league operations in 1994. Juan was assigned to pitch in Venezuela along with teammate Edgardo Alfonzo.
Baseball returned once the strike was concluded on April 2, 1995. Starting pitcher, Pete Harnisch had been acquired during that strike in a trade with the Houston Astros on November 28, 1994. The New York Mets sent Juan Castillo as the player to be named later in that deal on April 12th. He would remain in the Astros minor league system until retiring in 1996.
I created Juan Castillo's card in the set from an autographed index card given to me by my friend Jessie Burke in December 2013.