DAYTON, Ohio — A minor league pitcher who threw a baseball that went into the stands and injured a fan during an on-field melee in Ohio last year has been sentenced to 30 days in jail and three years probation.
Julio Castillo could have been sentenced to as long eight years in prison. Montgomery County Common Pleas Court Judge Connie Price said he had expressed that he was sorry about hurting anyone.
"The court does believe that he is remorseful," she said at Castillo's sentencing Thursday.
The judge also ordered Castillo to get anger management counseling, write a letter of apology to the injured fan, stay employed and work toward a high school equivalency degree. She warned him that violating any conditions of his probation could bring a 3-year prison sentence.
Castillo was convicted Tuesday of felonious assault causing serious physical injury for giving the fan a concussion.
The 22-year-old was pitching for the visiting Peoria Chiefs, a Chicago Cubs affiliate, when the 10-minute brawl broke out last July during a game against the Dayton Dragons. Castillo is now on the roster of the Boise Hawks, also a Cubs affiliate, but has been benched pending the legal proceedings.
Prior to his sentence, Castillo, speaking through a Spanish-language interpreter, told the judge he was sorry.
Castillo testified at his non-jury trial that he was frightened as the brawl began, and threw the ball downward toward the Dragons' dugout to keep players from rushing the field. He said he did not throw at any opposing player and wasn't trying to hit anyone.
It wasn't immediately known how the sentence will affect Castillo's baseball career and his immigration status. He is a citizen of the Dominican Republic in the United States on a work visa.
Khaalid Walls, spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said convictions that could lead to immigrants being deported include crimes of "moral turpitude," domestic violence and aggravated felonies. He said it is the agency's policy not to comment on specific cases.
A call to Cubs general counsel Michael Lufrano for comment was not immediately returned.
Castillo's attorney, Dennis Lieberman, said the relatively light sentence indicated the judge had struggled with the case.
"I don't think he wants to go to jail. I do know it's certainly better than the alternative," Lieberman said, referring to prison time.
Montgomery County Assistant Prosecutor Tracey Tangeman said she was pleased Castillo was sentenced to time behind bars because she did not want to see him get preferential treatment for being a baseball player.
"It was a crime of violence," she said.
During last month's trial, fan Chris McCarthy of Middletown, Ohio, testified that Castillo appeared angry when he threw the ball toward the Dragons' dugout. The 45-year-old fan said the ball hit him so hard that the seams left a mark on his scalp. He said he had a throbbing headache for days and couldn't wear a hard hat for his job because of swelling.
Video from the game shows Castillo throwing a ball, but doesn't show where the ball lands.
Officials in the Midwest League suspended and fined 15 players and both teams' managers for the fight.
Castillo was ordered to begin his sentence immediately and will get credit for spending a night in jail when he was arrested.