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Monday, March 8, 2021

Frank Castillo pitched well early in bigs, kept it up well enough over 13 ML seasons; Passed in 2013 accident

Frank Castillo got off to a hot start with the Cubs in 1991. He went at least seven innings in five of his first six outings and he won his first three decisions.

His third win came in a complete game where he gave up two earned runs.

"I didn't expect to come up here and get three wins right off the bat," Castillo told The AP after that complete game. "But so far, so good. I only hope I can keep it up."

Castillo kept it up enough to see the majors over 13 big league seasons. Along the way, he won double-digit games over five campaigns.

He continued in the majors into 2005 and then had a brief career as a coach. In 2013, he passed in a swimming accident. He was 44.

Castillo's career began in 1987, taken by the Cubs in the sixth round of the draft out of Eastwood High in Texas.

Castillo started with the Cubs at short-season Geneva and rookie Wytheville. He went 11-1 on the year, with a 2.15 ERA.

He made single-A Peoria in 1988, then AA Charlotte in 1989, He first saw AAA Iowa in 1991, then debuted that June in Chicago.

Castillo got 18 starts with the Cubs that first year. He went 6-7, with a 4.35 ERA. After a sterling first start where he went eight innings on the road, gave up two earned and ended up with a frustrating no-decision, he returned with the club to Chicago and Wrigley Field.

When I first walked onto the field," Castillo told The Chicago Tribune of his arrival at Wrigley, "my mouth dropped and I said to myself, 'I'm here!' I just went out and started running around in the outfield. It was awesome."

Castillo returned to the Cubs for 1991, getting 33 starts. He went 10-11, with a 3.46 ERA. He then saw 25 starts in 1993, four in 1994, then returned for 29 in 1995.

He picked up his fifth win of the 1995 campaign in mid-June, marking his return from some down years by taking a perfect game into the seventh inning. 

"He deserves the success he's had," Cubs manager Jim Riggleman told The AP. "He's worked hard to get over some hurdles and then he pitched winter ball."

Castillo started another 33 games in 1996. The Cubs then sent him mid-1997 to the Rockies in a trade. He went 12-12 on the year between the two clubs, with a 5.42 ERA.

He played with the Tigers in 1998, with the Blue Jays in 2000 and with the Red Sox in 2001, 2002 and 2004. He last saw the majors in 2005, with a single game played with the Marlins. 

He last played in 2007 and 2008 with independent York. He also served as a coach, including in 2011 with the rookie Arizona Cubs.

Then, in July 2013, while with his two daughters on Bartlett Lake near Scottsdale, Castillo died in a drowning accident. 

"Frank was a fighter," his obituary read, "and his teammates and fans loved him for it. Never flashy, Frank respected baseball and played it the right way, recognizing that The Game was much bigger and more important than any one player."

1990 Minor League Tally
Players/Coaches Featured:3,595
Made the Majors:1,245-34.6%-X
Never Made Majors:2,350-65.4%
5+ Seasons in the Majors:518-X
10+ Seasons in the Minors:305

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