2013 Vancouver Canadians pitcher Chase De Jong was called up to the Seattle Mariners Monday.

cs_alumni_updateThe transaction column contained good news for one former Vancouver Canadian but bad news for two others. The good news saw righthander Chase De Jong getting called up to the Seattle Mariners just before their season opener in Houston Monday as fellow pitcher Dillon Overton went on paternity leave. The Long Beach Press Telegram got this reaction from the 2013 C’s hurler when he heard he was going to Seattle.

“I’m just so honored that the Mariners trust me with this assignment and I can finally say that I’m a big leaguer,” De Jong said. “This is a dream come true and such a blessing for me and my family.”

Even though De Jong’s stay may be a short one, here’s hoping he will get to pitch before he goes back to Triple-A Tacoma where he is expected to be in the Rainiers’ starting rotation.


Miguel Castro throwing a pitch for the Vancouver Canadians in 2014.

At least De Jong knows what lies in his immediate future. The same can’t be said right now for 2014 Vancouver Canadians righthander Miguel Castro, who was designated for assignment by the Colorado Rockies. Castro’s DFA has been met with criticism with the blog Purple Row calling the move baffling.

To give the Rockies the benefit of the doubt, they could have a very bad medical report on Castro, who did have shoulder and back injuries last season. Or Jeff Bridich could have a trade in the works, but that seems especially unlikely.

Castro started last season strong, with a 1.50 ERA with eight strikeouts in six appearances with the Rockies in April. Then he gave up nine runs in in 823 innings in May and June before being demoted to Triple-A Albuquerque. He struggled amid the injuries with the Isotopes, compiling a 10.34 ERA in 16 appearances.

BSN Denver quotes Rockies GM Jeff Bridich as saying Castro’s health was not an issue.

“Castro is fully healthy, but when you add a man to the 40-man roster, somebody has to come off,” general manager Jeff Bridich told the Denver Post. “We had to clear a space for Kyle (Freeland) and this is the move we made.”

In 32-and-a-third big league innings, he (has) a plus 5.50 ERA but his 8.4 strikeouts per nine are a hint of what could be there.

“I think he’s still a developing pitcher who was pushed to the big leagues at a very early age with Toronto,” Bridich said. “I think when those sorts of things happen, and they happen with a number of players seemingly every year, sometimes it takes long for those guys to develop.”

Castro – who signed with the Toronto Blue Jays as a free agent out of the Dominican Republic in 2012 – made it to Toronto to open the 2015 where he was named the team’s closer but was eventually sent down to the minors before being traded to Colorado in the Troy Tulowitzki deal.

It was quite a whirlwind of events for Castro, considering he began 2014 with the Vancouver Canadians where his 6-2 won-loss record, 2.15 earned run average and 53-20 strikeout/walk ratio in 50-1/3 innings led to promotions to Lansing and Dunedin. A strong spring training in 2015 completed Castro’s rise to the majors as a 20 year-old.

The 6-foot-5 righty can definitely bring the heat at 95-100 MPH but the knocks on him according to BSN Denver have been his lack of control and inability to develop any secondary pitches. This should not be the end of the line for the 22 year-old Castro as some team will certainly take a chance on him and give him a chance to properly develop.

Vancouver Canadians Balbino Fuenmayor

Vancouver Canadians fan favourite Balbino Fuenmayor rounds the bases after a home run at Nat Bailey Stadium August 12, 2012.

The future is even less than certain for 2011-2012 C’s slugger Balbino Fuenmayor, who was released by the Atlanta Braves after having signed a minor league deal with them in the off-season. The 27 year-old Venezuelan was with the Kansas City Royals organization for the last two years where he tore it up with the Double-A Northwest Arkasas Naturals and the Triple-A Omaha Storm Chasers in 2015 with a combined slugging percentage of .589. That mark dropped last year to just .405 with just six home runs for Omaha despite a .291 batting average.

Fuenmayor did go deep once this spring but hit just .238 with a double and two walks in 21 at-bats for the Braves in Grapefruit League action. The C’s fan favourite – who loved to chant BAL-BI-NO when he came up to the plate – helped Vancouver win back-to-back Northwest League championships in 2011 and 2012 by hitting a combined .259 with 15 home runs and 81 runs batted in. Fuenmayor only made it as far as Lansing before the Blue Jays released him, ending his seven-year run after Toronto signed him as an international free agent in 2006. He resurrected his career by compiling a .993 OPS with 23 home runs and 99 runs batted in with the Quebec Capitales of the Can-Am League, earning him a minor league deal with the Royals.

Hopefully, this is not it for Fuenmayor and that someone will give him a chance to realize his dream of reaching the majors but time is running out.


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