MOOSIC — From the outside looking in, the loss of Wilkin Castillo doesn’t look so bad.
He’s a backup catcher that was batting .192 — mostly from the nine-hole — and has been up and down between Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and Double-A Trenton. However, if you ask anyone on the team, he’s played a crucial role in the RailRiders’ success this season.
Castillo was placed on the seven-day disabled list with a knee injury on Thursday.
“For me, that position, I’m not worried so much about offense. It’s more about defense — being able to do all those little things behind the plate to help the pitcher be successful and come through in key situations,” RailRiders manager Al Pedrique said. “That’s what you need around the clubhouse — a solid guy with the makeup. That’s what he is.
“Definitely, we’re going to miss him. We’re hoping it’s nothing serious, where he’ll be ready to go when the playoffs start, but he’s a great guy overall.”
Francisco Diaz was called up from Trenton to replace Castillo and Kyle Higashioka has been making progress lately. Higashioka, who’s out with a shoulder strain, threw all week and took batting practice for the first time on Thursday.
Wade ‘came long way’
Tyler Wade has had a .300 batting average once prior to this season, in 2013 when he was with the Gulf Coast League Yankees and finished at .309 before he was promoted to Low-A Staten Island.
Wade is arguably having the best season of his career and sporting a batting average above .300 for just the second time. His .307 batting average leads the International League. Not only does he rank with the best of the league in batting average, but his 26 steals and .380 on-base percentage both rank third.
The 22-year-old utility man capped his season off with a postseason all-star nod at shortstop as well. Wade has also worked his way up from being the Yankees’ No. 17 prospect, according to Baseball America, going into the season to No. 10 with three weeks to go.
“This is a kid who has came a long way,” Pedrique said. “I had him for the first time in 2014 (with Trenton) for 15, 20 games toward the end and to these days, he’s definitely came a long way. His defense, offense, base running, overall, his game has improved big time.”
Pedrique’s ‘the best’
Wade can’t say enough good things about his manager.
Pedrique’s feel, support and personality have been a big catalyst for Wade and his teammates’ successes this season.
“I think he brings everyone closer together,” Wade said. “If you get a personal relationship with a manager, you feel like you can tell him anything and work with him on anything. I wish every manager was like that. He does a great job. (Yankees manager) Joe Girardi does a great job with that, too.”