This Date in Pirates History: March 19

Four former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date. Starting with the most recent one first, we have Jose Castillo (1982) second baseman for the Pirates from 2004 until 2007. He was signed as an amateur free agent by the Pirates out of Venezuela, shortly after his 16th birthday. After one season in the Venezuelan Summer League, he made it to the states as an 18 year old, playing in the Gulf Coast League. Pittsburgh moved him up to A ball the next year and he hit .299 with 16 homers and 72 RBI’s during his first year in a full season league. He moved up to High-A ball for 2001 and hit .245 with 23 steals. The Pirates had him repeat the level in 2002 and he put up big numbers, hitting .300 with 27 steals, 16 homers and 81 RBI’s. He played well at AA the next season and in Spring Training of 2004, he made the Pirates as their starting second baseman.

That rookie season of 2004 saw Castillo play 129 games, 105 of those games were starts at second base. He hit .256 with eight homers and 39 RBI’s. In 2005 he had two trips to the DL, the first time just two games into the season when he strained an oblique muscle. The second injury happened as he was taken out by a runner attempting to break up a double play. That injury put him out from August 22 until the end of the season. He was still able to hit .268 with 11 homers and 53 RBI’s in 101 games. Jose came into spring training 2006 healthy, and put up his best career numbers. In 148 games he hit .253 with 14 homers and 65 RBI’s despite second half struggles that season. In 2007, Castillo lost his starting job to Freddy Sanchez and he would end up playing more third base than 2B that season. In 87 games he hit .244 without hitting a home run or stealing a base all season. He also walked just six times all year, compared to 48 strikeouts. Jose was released in December 2007 and he spent one more season in the majors, splitting the 2008 campaign between the Giants and Astros. He has spent the last two seasons playing ball in Japan and Mexico.

David Ross (1977) Catcher for the Pirates in 2005. He had spent three years in the majors with the Dodgers prior to being purchased by the Pirates at the end of Spring Training in 2005. In 2004, Ross hit .170 in 70 games with Los Angeles, his only full season in the majors while with the Dodgers. For the Pirates, he started the year as the backup to Benito Santiago, but quickly took over the starting job when Benito was placed on the DL a week into the season. Ross drove in seven runs in the first four games after taking over, but he quickly fizzled out and ended up with a .222 average in 40 games, adding just eight more RBI’s to his total. On July 28th, the Pirates traded him to the San Diego Padres in exchange for JJ Furmaniak. David has since played for the Reds, Red Sox and for the last three seasons, he has played for the Braves. In 596 career games, he is a .236 career hitter with 75 home runs and 225 RBI’s.

Angel Mangual (1947) Outfielder for the Pirates in 1969. He was signed as an amateur free agent by the Pirates in 1966 and he hit .228 in 80 games at A ball that first year. He moved from the Midwest League to the Carolina League for 1967 and improved to a .285 average with 71 runs scored and 46 RBI’s in 136 games. He spent all of 1968 and most of 1969 at AA, showing a drastic improvement the second time through the league. After hitting .320 with 26 homers and 102 RBI’s at AA, he played three games at AAA, then was called up by the Pirates in September of 1969. Mangual played six games off the bench for Pittsburgh, going 1-4 at the plate with a double and a run scored. He spent the entire 1970 season at AAA, where he hit .281 with 20 homers and 87 RBI’s. Shortly after the 1970 season ended, Angel was sent to the Oakland A’s as the player to be named later in an earlier traded for veteran pitcher Mudcat Grant. Mangual spent six seasons in the majors with the A’s, getting into 444 games. He retired after the 1976 season. Angel is the brother of Pepe Mangual, who spent six seasons in the majors and he’s the cousin of Coco Laboy, who played five seasons for the Expos.

Paul Smith (1931) First Baseman/outfielder for the Pirates in 1953 and then again in 1957-58. He was signed as an amateur free agent by the Pirates in 1950 and spent that first season playing for the Tallahassee Pirates of the Georgia-Florida League. Paul hit .319 in 139 games that year. Moving up to Class B ball from D ball, he hit .322 with ten homers in 143 games for Waco in 1951. Smith continued his rise through the system, playing at AA in 1952, where he hit .323 in 153 games. Paul spent all of 1953 with the Pirates,  hitting .283 with 44 RBI’s in 118 games. He played 74 games at first base and saw some time in the outfield as well. Smith then spent all of 1954 in the minors, playing for Havana of the International League before serving two years in the army, missing the 1955-56 seasons. He returned to the Pirates for 1957 and hit .253 with 11 RBI’s in 81 games, most of them coming off the bench. Paul was used just six times the first month of the 1958 season, all as a pinch hitter, prior to being sold to the Chicago Cubs on May 6th. He played 18 games with Chicago before they sent him to the minors, where he finished out his career, playing until 1964. Smith played just 223 major league games but in the minors, he hit .298 over 1385 games.

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John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.

When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.

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