The Cubs acquired two intriguing arms in Erick Leal and Jesus Castillo from the Arizona Diamondbacks for outfielder Tony Campana and added pitching depth to the system. While both pitchers are just 17 years old and have only pitched in the Dominican Summer League, Leal and Castillo have big upsides and project as big leaguers.
Erick Leal pitched in 14 games, 12 starts, last season and turns 18 on March 17. Leal threw strikes and struck out 70 batters in 70 innings while walking only 11 and surrendering 58 hits (0.99 WHIP). The Diamondbacks signed Leal for $75,000 after the 2011 season and the 6-foot-3, 180-pound right hander made quite an impression last year.
According to Baseball America, Leal changed his delivery from almost straight over the top to a lower slot and got more life on his fastball. Leal sat in the 85-88 mph range when he signed and the change in his delivery added a couple of miles per hour to his fastball, which sat last year around 88-89 mph. His best pitch is a mid-to-high 70s breaking ball. Baseball America indicated his breaking ball is advanced for his age and has a chance to be a plus-pitch. Leal also developed a change-up last year which gives him the possibility of having three average or better pitches if his velocity continues to increase. Leal throws plenty of strikes and moves the ball around the zone. Baseball America pointed out that he did gain weight too quickly last year and he will have to stay on top of his conditioning.
Jed Hoyer said Monday that Leal would likely begin the season in the minor leagues.
Jesus Castillo received a $250,000 signing bonus from Arizona on his 16th birthday in 2011. Castillo did not put up the numbers that Leal did in the Dominican Summer League but he still has projectable stuff. Castillo has a loose, cool rhythm and throws free and easy. Castillo’s fastball ranges from 82-89 mph and sat consistently in the mid-80s last season. Baseball America reported that his fastball now sits in the low-90s. Castillo has a good changeup that is considered his second-best pitch and while his breaking ball is a work in progress, the spin is there. Castillo has a smooth delivery, gets really good extension and almost jumps off the mound … the 6-foot-2, 165-pound right-hander does not turn 18 until August 27.
- Complete Scouting Reports from Baseball-America on Erick Leal and Jesus Castillo
- Scouting Reports from AZ Central
While both pitchers are years away from the big leagues, the Cubs appear to have received value in return for Tony Campana.