Student Athlete of the Week Diego Castro
April 26, 2023
Although he thinks of himself as a defense-first catcher, Niwot High School baseball senior Diego Castro has made an equally large impact this season with his bat. The Cougar backstop sports a .429 batting average through April 23 with a team-leading 18 RBIs.
Last year, he hit just .162 in a similar number of plate appearances. Castro credited an offseason of facing pitching machines that allowed him to see higher velocities and breaking balls.
"Honestly, I think I'm just more comfortable, more relaxed," Castro said. "I definitely put in a lot of work in the offseason. It's definitely translated to games being more comfortable at higher level pitching from club (baseball) and other stuff, so when I come into high school, I feel like I can handle it."
His strong return on investment has been gratifying, to say the least.
"It's felt amazing finishing the high school season strong, especially since last year wasn't too great," Castro said.
With the help of Castro, who owns six multi-hit games and four doubles, Niwot is averaging over eight runs per game, a considerable increase from last season's mark of 6.96. At 7-6 overall (5-5 Class 4A Longs Peak League), the Cougars have also won two more games than all of last year.
Castro hasn't neglected his glove, either, and he remains proud of his ability to call pitches behind the plate while also blocking and receiving what he requests. "A strong defensive catcher is just more important than a catcher that can hit well, so I take more pride in that," he said.
Niwot's varsity squad only carries a handful of seniors, and Castro said that he and other veterans have prioritized creating an inclusive environment for the underclassmen, which he believes has led to more on-field success.
"Our chemistry this year is just amazing," Castro said. "We don't have a lot of upperclassmen. Most of the team is sophomores and freshmen. Especially like us older guys as seniors - Jed (Kilpatrick), Julian (Lettow) and Jaedyn (Adler) - we've all done just a good job of taking them in and making them feel comfortable too, because I feel like it's tough for them sophomore year starting. They might feel a little out of place almost, so we really just want to make them feel like family."
Castro said that his leadership skills were built by his older brother, Felipe, who enjoyed two varsity seasons at Niwot before graduating in 2020.
"I always looked up to him, wanted to be him," Castro said. "On the field, he was a character. I wouldn't say he was exactly the best player on the field, but he was definitely a leader and he's a captain. I just look up to him being that personality in the dugout."
Now, Castro has his own opportunity to be a role model on the diamond as two more Castro brothers, Nico and Matis, are currently freshmen on Niwot's junior varsity team. All four brothers were initially inspired to take up baseball by their father, Felipe Sr., a former Venezuelan player at the Universidad Metropolitana.
In the fall, Castro plans on studying criminal justice at Penn State University. He's also considering joining the school's club baseball team.
"I'm definitely looking to get away from my parents a little bit," Castro joked. "I just want to meet new people from all over the place, make lasting relationships and get out there and start a new journey."