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Willi Castro

Willi Castro does it all for Twins

Willi Castro finds home all over the diamond

HOUSTON – Family is the biggest reason why Willie Castro is playing baseball as a profession. His father Rene Capellan played baseball. Willi Castro’s uncle Robert Capellan also played baseball. Naturally, the Capellan brothers inspired Castro to carry the family tradition. 

Castro was undrafted in 2013. At 16 years old, he signed as an international free agent out of the Dominican Republic with the Cleveland Indians (Guardians). A young Castro faced the challenge of not having his family near him, but his resiliency kept him motivated.

“To be honest the first two years that I got signed back in the Dominican and I came here you know it was a little tough,” Castro said. “I’ve been around my family, my home my whole life. You just get used to it being in the States. I’ve never lost communication with them, and you just got used to it.

“There were times that they would go see me play, and you feel really good about it. Just having your family see you play it’s something as a child you wanna be in this position.”

Early adjustment in North Carolina

The Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico, native moved to North Carolina at a young age with his parents. Castro’s first language was Spanish, but the language barrier didn’t stop him from learning English. He quickly adapted to speaking and reading the English language from elementary to middle school. 

Learning a different language prepared him not only to communicate with his teachers and his classmates, but for his future career. Castro was inspired to be like his family members. He was also encouraged to play like his favorite player, four-time All-star Jose Reyes. Castro played shortstop and began to switch-hit because of Reyes.

“I looked up to Jose Reyes back then,” Castro said. “Just the energy he brings everyday. Hustling, stealing bases, that was the player I wanted to become. You know, nowadays I’m doing something similar to him, and you know it just feels great that he was a guy that inspired me to be where I am right now.”


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Castro spent six years in Cleveland’s farm system. He was traded to the Detroit Tigers for outfielder Leonys Martin and right-handed pitcher Kyle Dowdy at the 2018 trade deadline. The following year, he got the opportunity to make his major league debut.

In his first season in Detroit, Castro played all 29 games at shortstop. The following season, the Tigers started to play him all over the infield except first base.

Willi Castro carries many gloves

The 27-year-old switch-hitter became the Tigers’ utilityman. Castro played multiple games at shortstop and second base, though he did learn to play left field in 2021. The 6-foot-1 Boricua continued to work at different positions and wanted to become an everyday player for his team.

“I became way better when I first started playing the outfield,” he said. “Left field was a little difficult, but then I got the hang of it. Every day I just go to work early, and work on certain stuff. I’ve become really good at playing other positions. I feel really comfortable in my natural position and everywhere.”

After being released from the Tigers in 2022, Castro found a new home with the Minnesota Twins.

In his second season with the Twins, Castro is batting .250/.343/.398 with 54 hits, 12 doubles, four home runs, 17 RBIs, and a 114 OPS+.

In addition, the Twins’ utilityman has played 21 games at third base, 20 in center field and shortstop, 17 at left field, seven at second, and has pitched in two games.

Positive mindset a key

“His willingness and desire to do anything you ask him to do is pretty amazing,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said of Castro. “Not everyone has that, even some versatile players. He brings out all his gloves and he just points to the one he wants, grabs it, and just goes out there and plays hard.

“Nothing else you can ask for as a manager or coaching staff. We make a lot of moves in our games. We do a lot of different things, we just don’t put nine guys out there and play the whole game, almost never. He is the main reason why we can do all that. Willi Castro.”

Rawlings announced a Gold Glove Award for utility players in 2022. Astros utility man Mauricio Dubon won the prestigious award last year for the American League. 

Keep a close eye out on Castro in the Twin Cities. He may contend for a Gold Glove one day too as a utility man.

Cover photo courtesy of the Minnesota Twins.

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