Classic card of the week

Juan Castillo, 1995 Upper Deck

Juan Castillo
: Hello?

Upper Deck
: Juan, hey. Brad, Upper Deck. Listen, come down to the studio tomorrow afternoon. We’re doing a hot, new shoot. “Rookie Class.” You’re the star, along with a bunch of other guys. Cool stuff, new fonts, lots of colors and crap. You like pink?

Juan Castillo: Ummm …

Upper Deck: Cool. We’re doing a pink background, like you’re playing on Mars as the sun sets. It’s hot, trust me. Call Michelle and set up an exact time. Oh, and wear your best Mets turtleneck. It’s cold on Mars.

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Castillo signed with the Mets as a free agent at the tender age of 17, and the Mets’ investment began to pay off in 1994.

Free agent? 17? I guess, technically, we’re all free agents out of the womb. I think that is how God intended on us being defined. Also, it seems that the Mets investment strategy in this case was: Sign 17-year old Venezuelan “free agent,” wait seven years for him to become 24, and then finally call him up just before a strike cancels the season, at which point he will compile “a career 0-0 record with 1 strikeout and a 6.94 ERA in 11 innings,” and then never call him up again. This strategy was a success.

Castillo owned an astounding 11-2 record for Class-AA Binghampton

Like any red-blooded, baseball-loving American, I am astounded by the mere thought of an 11-2 minor league pitching record. Few things, if any, cause such amazement and wonder in my brain. 11-2 is the absolute apex of what can be truly achieved before we start to delve into the utterly impossible. 12-2? That’s just ridiculous. Don't even talk to me. I am rolling my eyes at 12-2. That is why “astounding” is the perfect word here.

when he received the summons to New York on July 25.

Other teams have “call-ups.” The Mets issue a summons. That’s about right.

Chances are Castillo will start the 1995 campaign at Class-AAA Norfolk, with a call-up quick to come if he can duplicate his 1994 showing.

His 1994 showing was 0-0 with 1 strikeout and a 6.94 ERA in 11 innings. That is a very small sample size, and the card is referring to his minor-league ’94 showing, but … still. Anyway, the call-up never came. Do the Mets know how to groom their 17-year old investments or what? Astounding.

Did you know?
Venezuelan kindergartens teach a mandatory class on the free agency signing period. Traditionally, it's after snack time.