By: Jackson Kaplan
MOREHEAD CITY---Eduardo Castro arrived in Morehead City for his second summer season with the Marlins as the team looked for a high-energy leader behind the plate.
"Castro is awesome to have back there," says Andrew Burnick, pitcher from the University of Pennsylvania. "He's so agile behind the plate. I know if anyone steals against me as long as I do my job and make sure I'm quick to the plate, I feel very confident that Castro can throw the runner out."
One important aspect of Castro's game that he brings to the table a high amount of energy and enthusiasm. That instant impact can be felt by many of his teammates. "I guess he kind of brings that Latin flair," joked Dominick Cammarata. "Always high energy, always keeping spirits up in the dugout."
The feeling was mutual for Burnick as he also praised Castro for the positive vibes he spreads and how he helps make the game run smoothly. "He brings a lot of fire. He's got a great bat that is starting to come around, he's getting hot," Burnick said, adding, "He's also a great anchor behind the plate."
Eduardo Castro, meanwhile, believes he brings a lot of fire to the club that allows him to connect with teammates. "I feel like I bring great energy over here," Castro says. "I feel comfortable with all the guys over here. I have fun with all of them and it's a great time with them."
After just completing his junior season at Missouri State University, Castro looked to make an instant impact for the Marlins. He spent his first two collegiate baseball seasons at Odessa College in Texas, a junior college program, where he was an offensive machine. During his sophomore season, he hit an impressive .354 with 28 runs batted in. That was only an encore performance from a successful freshman season as Castro worked to make solid strides from one level to the next.
"I had a great time in JUCO and everything, but it's a huge difference going D1,"speaks Castro. But early in his Missouri State career, Castro struggled to consistently produce with the bat. While he hit just .191, Castro provided some notable contributions clubbing two home runs, 18 hits, and five doubles. Even still, he really enjoyed the experience from this past season with the Bears. "We were one win away from the College World Series, but I had a great time with those guys," said Castro, referring to the recent NCAA Super Regionals.
Now currently in his second season with the Marlins, Castro looks to build upon his overall potential.
Upon arriving in Morehead City, Castro was not the everyday catcher. He experimented with some time at third base and DH for a few games and then pursued his permanent role as the man calling the game behind the plate. "He works real well with the pitchers. He's really good at calling a game and kind of getting them to throw the ball where he wants it," said fellow catcher Dominick Cammarata, before noting that, "It doesn't hurt that he has a hose behind the plate too."
That hose of an arm has even caught the eye of head coach Jason Wood, who spoke very highly of his catcher on what he's brought to the Marlins. "Castro is one of the best defensive catchers I have ever coached." Wood notes, before mentioning how the catcher really earns his stripes behind the plate. "Not only that but Castro calls a great game and anytime he is behind the plate as a coach you don't have to worry about anything and that's a blessing." Coach Wood has been impressed with how Castro approaches the game on the offensive side of the ball and the recent results have started to prove how valuable he can be as a two-way player.
"We knew when we got him in here everybody told us about what a good catch-and-throw guy he was, how good of a receiver he was, but what he has been able to do offensively is just a bonus for us," praised coach Wood.
Over the last six games, Castro's bat has started to come around as well. He has swung for an average of .375 with five total hits, two doubles and one home run. Throughout the season, Castro has been noticeably aware of all the runners on the bases and is always making the attempt the pick them off. Burnick certainly appreciates the help behind the plate. "He has also gotten numerous back-picks this year and saved me on a couple of innings. It's just awesome to have such a great catcher back there," said Burnick, noting Castro's rate throwing out 18 of 26 base stealers. "It makes me feel a lot more confident on the mound as well."
Marlins outfielder Blake Graham, who was also Castro's teammate at Missouri State University, loves having Castro around the clubhouse. "He's a great teammate, he works hard. We were teammates last year here (Morehead City) too. He's always a good guy to have around. When I found out he was coming to Missouri State this past season, I was very excited about that."
Graham and Castro played together over the last year and a half and Graham says that they have developed a very close relationship in that short time. "I pick him up every day and drive him to the field. His locker is right next to mine at school (MO State). He is one of my better friends."
He also talked about the important pieces that Castro has brought to the Marlins. "He's a good leader. I think pitchers really respect him," says Graham, who also acknowledged Castro's awareness behind the dish. "He knows how to call a game and he knows when to get on a guy and when to kind of let things play out."
Catchers usually need to take on the leadership role of a defense as they project the play calls and defensive alignments of the infield and outfield. Castro thrives in that position and has established himself as a vocal and fundamental leader on the diamond for the 2015 version of the Morehead City Marlins. The Marlins have currently won six of their last seven games and have noticeably started to come together as a team. During this stretch, the Marlins have improved tremendously on both sides of the ball. Castro's hot bat and great instincts and leadership behind the plate have played a big part in that recent success. He seeks to make even more significant contributions offensively and defensively as the Marlins continue to make their red-hot second half push towards a postseason berth.
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