Jason Michael Castro
- Bats Left, Throws Right
- Height 6' 3", Weight 210 lb.
- School Stanford University
- High School Castro Valley High School
- Debut June 22, 2010
Catcher Jason Castro made his major league debut at age 23.
Castro hit .400/.486/.611 in high school. He was drafted in the 43rd round of the 2005 amateur draft by the Boston Red Sox. Opting to attend Stanford instead, he hit .283/.363/.396 as a freshman and fielded .993, mostly at first base. He made All-Alaska Baseball League with the Anchorage Bucs. He had a sophomore slump to .167/.287/.225 in 2007.
Jason really lifted his stock in the summer of 2007 with the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox, helping them take the Cape Cod Baseball League title. He hit .341/.434/.488 with 22 walks and 31 runs in 39 games despite bouncing between 1B, OF and catcher. He was second in the league in both runs and average (trailing Conor Gillaspie). He made All-League.
As a junior, Castro shook off his sophomore weos to hit .379/.431/.617 with 64 runs and 69 RBI. He led the Pacific-10 Conference with 105 hits and was 7th in average. He made All-Conference at catcher, one of three backstops picked (Petey Paramore was another). He made the 2008 College World Series All-Tournament Team.
He was selected in the 1st round of the 2008 amateur draft by the Houston Astros; he was the 10th overall pick and third catcher after Buster Posey and Kyle Skipworth; no other catchers were taken in the first 75. He was selected right after Aaron Crow and right before Justin Smoak. Jason was signed by scout Joe Graham and scouting director Bobby Heck for a $2,070,000 bonus.
He made his pro debut that summer with the Tri-City Valley Cats of the New York-Penn League, hitting .275 with an OPB of .381 and .384 slugging percentage. Baseball America rated him the league's top prospect, followed by David Cooper. That winter, he batted .333 for the North Shore Honu, making the Hawaii Winter Baseball All-Star team. He tied for 5th in the league in average, .005 behind Posey's #4, and made the All-Star team at catcher (Posey was picked as a utility man).
The youngest player invited to Astros spring training that year, he split 2009 between the Lancaster Jethawks and Corpus Christi Hooks and hit .300 with 10 home runs and 73 RBI between the two stops. He threw out 45% of attempted base-stealers. Baseball America rated him the California League's third-best prospect after Posey and Christian Friedrich and at #6 in the Texas League behind Mat Latos, Smoak, Chris Carter, Jhoulys Chacin and Brett Wallace. He did not have the best year of an Astros minor league catcher, though - that honor went to .341-hitting Koby Clemens.
Castro backed up Tyler Flowers at catcher for the USA in the 2009 Futures Game. He had the USA's big hit in a 7-5 loss. Coming up in the 5th with Scott Sizemore and Daryl Jones aboard, he went yard off Luis Pérez. He later flew out against Juan Carlos Sulbaran. Defensively, he allowed one steal to Luis Durango but later threw out Durango. In the 2009 Baseball World Cup, Jason had one of the worst performances for Team USA, going 3 for 23 (all singles) with five walks. He also made a defensive gaffe on Lino Connell bunt that helped hand the USA its lone loss, 9-7, to Venezuela, in the opener. By the Gold Medal game, he was riding the pine as Lucas May was the catcher. He hit only .143 in 42 at-bats for the Peoria Saguaros of the Arizona Fall League that year, second among the league's two Castros, well back of Starlin Castro's .376.
He again was the youngest player in Houston's spring training camp. began 2010 with the AAA Round Rock Express, for whom he hit .265/.365/.355 in 57 games before being called up by the Astros in June.
Castro made his big league debut on June 22nd, 2010 going 1 for 4 in a game against the San Francisco Giants with a single off Tim Lincecum. He was immediately installed as the team's regular catcher. He was only hitting .182/.289/.303 after 11 games and only improved to .205 in 67 games by the end of the season. He then missed the entire 2011 season after having surgery on his right knee in spring training. He then got more bad news the following December, having to undergo another round of surgery, this time to remove a bone in his left foot, the result of an injury suffered in the Arizona Fall League a few weeks earlier. He was scheduled to miss the start of spring training in 2012 as a result but was ready for the start of the season. He spent the entire year with the Astros, except for missing a month from mid-July to mid-August with a resurgence of his knee problem. He played 87 games, hitting .257/.334/.401 with 6 homers and 29 RBI as the team's primary catcher.
Castro had never hit a home run off a lefthanded pitcher in the major leagues until he did so on consecutive days on June 15-16, 2013. The victims were John Danks and Matt Thornton of the Chicago White Sox, and both homers were key to Astros wins. He made the American League All-Star team as the Astros' sole representative, although his statistics at the time made the honor fully deserved. In 120 games that year, he hit .276 with 35 doubles, 18 homers and 56 RBIs. He seemed to be headed for stardom at that point, but while he continued to do well defensively, his offensive numbers took a dive after that early peak.
In 2014, he fell to .222 with 14 homers and 56 RBIs in a career-high 126 games, his OPS+ going from 130 to 84. He then settled at that level over the next two seasons. In 2015, while the Astros improved dramatically and reached the postseason for the first time since moving top the American League, he hit only .211 in 104 games, with 11 homers and 31 RBIs. He went 0 for 2 with a walk in the Wild Card Game against the New York Yankees, and only 1 for 14 as the Astros were eliminated by the Kansas City Royals in the Division Series. In 2016, he continued to share playing time behind the plate with Evan Gattis and hit only .210 with 11 homers and 32 RBIs in 113 games. After the season, the Astros acquired veteran catcher Brian McCann in a trade with the Yankees, indicating that they would not make an effort to re-sign Castro, who was now a free agent. On [November 22]]nd, Jason signed a three-year contract with the Minnesota Twins for $24.5 million. There, he would get a chance to compete for the starting job on another rebuilding team.
- AL All-Star (2013)
- 2009 Futures Game
- Stanford bio
- CEB coverage of the 2009 Baseball World Cup
- 2007-2010 Baseball Almanacs
- Cape Cod League