Castro has GM Williams thinking big

The second coming of Jose Contreras is on the way. Or at least that’s what Chicago White Sox general manager Kenny Williams suggested Saturday.

Explaining the trade that sent Carlos Quentin to the San Diego Padres and yielded minor-league pitchers Simon Castro and Pedro Hernandez, Williams seemed to put most of his expectations on Castro.

“Castro, as I was looking at him on tape, Castro reminds me of Jose Contreras when we got him and there were things he was doing [mechanically] that were counter-productive,” Williams said. “There are a lot of similarities and hopefully we can get the most out of him.”

Does that mean when you squint really hard you are reminded of Contreras? Or can this guy really lead a starting rotation to an 11-1 run during the postseason?

Williams sounded annoyed that he had to reiterate his comparison.

“There are some similarities we see in him that remind us of Jose and some of the issues he has had this past year that he didn’t have before,” Williams said of Castro’s disappointing 7-8 season with a 5.63 ERA at both Double-A and Triple-A. “Sometimes guys get out of whack. This guy is 6-foot-5, throws 90-95 [mph], a lower three-quarter angle and gets around balls but can drop a hard split and he can locate, when he’s right.”

To Williams’ credit, the Contreras comparison isn’t completely off the wall. Castro was the Padres’ minor-league pitcher of the year in 2009 and that success continued a year later. In 2010 he was a midseason and postseason Texas League All-Star and pitched in the Futures Game that season.

Last season, though, on a deep staff at Double-A for the Padres, he had mechanical issues. Despite it he still got six starts at Triple-A, but posted an ERA over 10.

“He will be the first to admit that he didn’t distinguish himself among some of his peers,” Williams said. “We have to get him back there. Just one year ago you wouldn’t have been able to get this kind of guy.”

Consider it yet another reclamation project for pitching coach Don Cooper, who was there to help Contreras turn it around.

Nobody really expects Castro to take over the rotation and lead the White Sox to the World Series next season, but he and Hernandez could see time in the big leagues in 2012.

“Castro twice was a top-100 prospect even though he scuffled at times [last season],” Padres GM Josh Byrnes said. “He was still low to mid-90s [mph fastball], slider, change up and a great kid.”

That makes two big-league GMs with high praise for Castro, although Byrnes was the one who just traded away the right-hander.