Castillo strives to improve at UNM
MHS graduate emerges as elite baseball player with Lobos
Ray Birmingham knows about elite baseball players.
The University of New Mexico head baseball coach has coached enough of them — including current major leaguers — during his 34-year collegiate career.
He considers Midlothian High School graduate Kyler Castillo to be in that class.
"He's a breath of fresh air," said Birmingham, who soon retires after 14 seasons at UNM. "He's a baseball player. It's hard to find a baseball player."
Castillo's drive and ability have helped him become a standout for the Lobos. In starting the 20 games he played, the junior hit .356 with three home runs, both second on the team, and led the squad with 15 runs batted in.
"He reminds me mentally of (Houston Astros infielder) Alex Bregman. Alex and Kyler are the same kind mentally," Birmingham said. "Kyler's willing to try anything to improve himself. Alex Bregman wanted to do that.
"Kyler doesn't have a great athletic body. He gets more out of what he's got," he said.
In March the 6-foot-1, 200-pound left fielder had a season-high nine-game hitting streak, which included eight multihit efforts. Overall, he had 13 multihit games.
He attributed his hitting success to when he played for Odessa College, where he earned 2019 all-region and all-conference honors, including co-conference most valuable player.
He said the coaches there preached keeping the hands inside the ball when swinging and trying to hit the ball to the opposite field.
"Having a short swing and getting to the ball as efficiently as possible," Castillo said. "It's more mental than it is physical.
“You've got to consistently be telling yourself you can do better," he said. "I just want to go out there and do the best for my team."
He had a perfect fielding percentage in 30 chances.
"He's a great defender," the coach said. "He's improved his arm strength."
Castillo is among the Lobos attracting the attention of professional scouts.
"That's always been the plan," he said. "I'm going to keep striving for that."
His coach believes in him.
"I think he's going to get a little pro contract," he said.
Texas A & M University-Texarkana senior pitcher Jordan Johnson had a 4-2 record and 7.00 earned run average in 11 games.
The former Panther was second on the team in wins as of Tuesday.
Freshman outside hitter Sage Post finished third in kills in starting 11 of the 13 matches she played for Lubbock Christian University.
The Midlothian resident was fifth in digs.
Texas A & M-Texarkana freshman Natalie Scott was named April 6 as the Red River Athletic Conference player of the week.
Out of Midlothian High, the sophomore was honored for her 5-7, 6-2, 6-2 victory at No. 2 singles against Southwestern College, the lone victory in the team's loss.
Send updates about area athletes to Barbara Boxleitner at email@example.com.