Four former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date.
Jose Castillo, second baseman for the 2004-07 Pirates. He was signed as an amateur free agent by the Pirates out of Venezuela, shortly after his 16th birthday in 1997. After one season in the Venezuelan Summer League (1998), he made it to the states as an 18-year-old, playing in the Gulf Coast League in 1999, where he batted .266 with 30 RBIs in 47 games. Pittsburgh moved him up to Low-A the next year and he hit .299 with 32 doubles, 16 homers, 16 steals, 95 runs scored and 72 RBIs in 125 games during his first year in a full-season league. Castillo split his time between second base and shortstop prior to the 2000 season, when he switched to full-time shortstop for three seasons. He moved up to High-A ball for 2001 and hit .245 with 34 extra-base hits and 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 RBIs. Castillo also showed better patience at the plate, doubling his walk rate over the previous season. He played well at Double-A the next season, hitting .287, with a .728 OPS. Jack Wilson had established himself as the long-term shortstop in Pittsburgh at this time, so Castillo began to play more second base in his only season with Altoona. Without any Triple-A experience, he made the Pirates as their starting second baseman in Spring Training of 2004.
That rookie season saw Castillo play 129 games, with 105 starts at second base. He hit .256 with eight homers and 39 RBIs. In 2005 he had two trips to the disabled list, the first time occurring 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 22nd until the end of the season. He was still able to hit .268 with 11 homers and 53 RBIs in 101 games. Castillo came into Spring Training 2006 healthy, and put up his best career numbers in numerous categories, though poor defense resulted in his worse career WAR numbers (-1.3 WAR for the season). In 148 games he hit .253 with 25 doubles, 14 homers and 65 RBIs. Castillo lost his starting job to Freddy Sanchez in 2007, and he would end up playing more third base than second base. In 87 games he hit .244 without a home run or a stolen base, while picking up just six walks. He was released in December 2007 and he spent one more season in the majors, splitting the 2008 campaign between the San Francisco Giants and Houston Astros. In 127 games, he put up a .668 OPS. With Pittsburgh, he was a .256 hitter in 465 games, with 33 homers, 181 RBIs and 197 runs scored. Despite for straight seasons of double digit stolen base totals in the minors, he had just 13 steals (in 24 attempts) in the majors. Castillo played in Japan, Italy, Mexico and Venezuela until his untimely passing at age 37 in December, 2018. He played a total of 21 seasons in pro ball, plus 13 years of winter ball. If you include all of his totals (the 1998 stats from Venezuela aren’t available online, but I have them for hits, games and average), he played 2,752 games, with over 11,000 plate appearances. Castillo hit .290 during that time, with 257 homers, 509 triples, 1,477 RBIs, 1,318 runs, 2,964 hits and 225 steals.
David Ross, catcher for the Pirates in 2005. He spent three years in the majors with the Los Angeles Dodgers prior to being purchased by the Pirates at the end of Spring Training in 2005. Ross was drafted out of high school and college by the Dodgers, getting selected in the 19th round in 1995 and the seventh round in 1998 out of the University of Florida. He had an excellent pro debut, batting .309 in the short-season Northwestern League in 1998, then he struggled with the jump to the Florida State League in 1999, hitting .227 in 114 games. Ross did just slightly better in 2000, while splitting the season between High-A and Double-A. He put up a .754 OPS in High-A, but that was helped by the Dodgers moving from the pitcher-friendly Florida State League to the hitter-friendly California League. After getting promoted to Double-A, he had a .209 average in 24 games. Ross turned a corner with an .831 OPS with Jacksonville (Double-A) in 2001, followed by a .297 average and 15 homers for Las Vegas in 2002. That led to his first taste of the majors, getting in eight games with the Dodgers. Most of 2003 was spent as a backup in the majors. Ross hit .258 with ten homers and 18 RBIs in 40 games. In 2004, he spent the entire year with the Dodgers, but had his share of trouble at the plate. He hit .170 in 70 games during his final season in Los Angeles. For the Pirates, he started the year as the backup to Benito Santiago, but quickly took over the starting job when Santiago was placed on the disabled list 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 RBIs to his total. On July 28th, the Pirates traded him to the San Diego Padres in exchange for JJ Furmaniak. Ross hit .353 in 11 games with the Padres, then got traded in the off-season to the Cincinnati Reds. He had his best season in 2006, batting .255 with 21 homers and 52 RBIs in 90 games. He hit 17 homers the next year, though it came with a .203 average and a .670 OPS in 112 games. The Reds released Ross mid-season in 2008 after a slow start and he signed with the Boston Red Sox. He lasted just eight games there, but he would return in a few years.
From 2009 to 2012, Ross was the backup for the Atlanta Braves, playing between 52 and 62 games each year, finishing between 145 and 191 plate appearances each season. In four years there, he .269 in 227 games, with 24 homers and 94 RBIs. He signed with the Red Sox as a free agent for the 2013-14 seasons and held a backup role. His hitting fell off, but he was strong defensively. In 2013, he helped Boston to a World Series victory, while starting seven games behind the plate during the playoffs. Ross moved on to the Chicago Cubs in 2015 and really struggled at the plate, hitting .176 in 72 games, though he was there more for his defense. He helped the Cubs to the World Series title in 2016 by putting up a .784 OPS in 67 games, then hitting two homers in the playoffs. He retired following the 2016 season. In 883 career games over 15 seasons, he was a .229 hitter with 106 home runs and 314 RBIs. Ross is currently the manager of the Cubs, in his second season at that position.
Angel Mangual, outfielder for the Pirates in 1969. He was signed as an amateur free agent by the Pirates in 1966 at 19 years old out of Puerto Rico. He hit .228 in 80 games at A-Ball that first year. Mangual moved from the Midwest League to the Carolina League for 1967 and improved to a .285 average with 71 runs scored and 46 RBIs in 136 games. He spent all of 1968 and most of 1969 at Double-A, showing a drastic improvement the second time through the league. After hitting .320 with 26 homers and 102 RBIs at Double-A in 1969, he played three games at Triple-A, then was called up by the Pirates in September of 1969. Mangual played six games off of the bench for Pittsburgh, going 1-for-4 at the plate with a double and a run scored. He spent the entire 1970 season at Triple-A, where he hit .281 with 20 homers and 87 RBIs. Shortly after the 1970 season ended, he 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. In 1971, he finished third in the American League Rookie of the Year voting after hitting .286 in 94 games. He had a similar platoon role in 1972 when the A’s won their first of three straight World Series titles. Mangual hit .245 with five homers and 32 RBIs in 91 games. His average dropped to .224 in 1973 and he saw a little less playing time, but he was a bigger part of the 1974 champions, setting career highs with 115 games and 387 plate appearances. He batted .233 with nine homers and 43 RBIs that season. His playing time dropped in 1975, as he made just 17 starts all season. Mangual hit .220 in 62 games, with one homer and six RBIs. He played just eight games in the early part of 1976 before spending the rest of the season in the minors. He played in Mexico in 1977 and Puerto Rico in 1979 before retiring. In 450 big league games, he hit .245 with 22 homers and 125 RBIs He played a total of 20 playoff games, though he had a .176 average in 45 at-bats. He 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. We recently posted a Card of the Day article looking at the rookie card of Angel Mangual.
Paul Smith, first Baseman/outfielder for the 1953 and 1957-58 Pirates. He was signed as an amateur free agent by the Pirates in 1950 at 19 years old and he spent that first season playing for the Tallahassee Pirates of the Georgia-Florida League. Smith hit .319 in 139 games that year and won the league’s Rookie of the Year award. Moving up to Class B from D-ball, he hit .322 with ten homers in 143 games for Waco in 1951. He continued his rise through the system, playing at Double-A in 1952, where he hit .323 with 39 extra-base hits in 153 games. He received a Spring Training invite that season, which helped him in the next year when he won an Opening Day job in Pittsburgh. Smith spent all of 1953 with the Pirates, hitting .283 with four homers and 44 RBIs in 118 games. He played 74 games at first base and saw some time in the outfield as well. He then spent all of 1954 in the minors, batting .321 with an .832 OPS in 122 games while playing for Havana of the International League. Smith then serving two years in the Army, missing the 1955-56 seasons. He was actually expected to join the service in early April of 1954, but he failed the physical due to a concussion he suffered on March 21st while covering first base, when a pick-off throw hit him in the head. His induction into the Army was put off until January 28, 1955 and he served until early November of 1956. He returned to the Pirates for 1957 and hit .253 with 11 RBIs in 81 games (24 as a starter). Smith was used just six times during 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. He played 223 big league games, and he hit .298 over 1,385 minor league games. For the Pirates, he hit .275 with seven homers and 55 RBIs, finishing with exactly 600 plate appearances. Smith was born in New Castle, PA (Birthplace of Chuck Tanner), but he was referred to as a Pittsburgh native while with the Pirates, living in Wilkinsburg. An August 1952 article talked about the potential for an all-Pittsburgh district outfield with Smith, Frank Thomas and Bobby Del Greco. The three never played together because Del Greco was only with the Pirates during the 1952 and 1956 seasons.
A fifth player will be added to the March 19, 2022 version of this article. Billy Colgan, who was once known as Ed Colgan of the 1884 Alleghenys had a completely unknown birth date until months after this article was originally published. It’s now known that he was born on March 19, 1862.