By Bruno Pizarro
DUNEDIN, Fla. – Maximo Castillo left Venezuela at just 16 to join the Toronto Blue Jays with his family in mind.
The right-handed pitcher from Caracas was signed as a free agent to a minor league contract in September 2015 for $10,000.
He has been following the goal of playing in the big leagues not only for himself but also for those at home.
“My plans for the future are to keep fighting for my dream ... which is a dream for both me and my family, and that's why I'm working,” said Castillo, at the Bobby Mattick Training Complex on Tuesday.
Playing for the Rookie ball Bluefield Blue Jays last year, the 18-year-old had the chance to show his abilities. The team had a great season, going 46-22, due in large part to some strong pitching performances, and Castillo was a big part of that.
The Venezuelan went 6-0 with a 3.80 ERA over 10 starts in the Appalachian League, showing growth in his second professional season.
But things weren’t always so good for the prospect when he was adapting.
“In the beginning, it was quite difficult, since the (political and economic) situation in Venezuela is somewhat difficult. But gradually, I have improved,” said Castillo.
“Fortunately, I have the facility to improve my training with the ball and I believe I have managed to handle the situation.”
He’s been establishing himself as an underrated young arm who could increase his prospect value quickly over the next seasons. Castillo is No. 24 on MLB.com’s Blue Jays prospect list. Determination seems to be the main component in his trajectory.
“We are working for a dream, which is to reach the big leagues. And to get there I believe we need a lot of strength, a lot of work and a lot of dedication,” he said. “I thank God for the talent I have and for knowing how to benefit from it.”