The Blake Street Bombers instilled fear into the hearts of many a pitcher in the mid-'90s, running roughshod over opposing pitching staffs with impunity. One of them was Vinny Castilla, but before he was a Bomber, he was a Brave.
The Braves purchased Castilla from Saltillo of the Mexican League following the 1989 season, but merited just two September call-ups and was left unprotected in the expansion draft in November 1992. That's when the Colorado Rockies snatched him up with the 40th pick.
Castilla started as a shortstop, a position he played in the minors with Atlanta, but moved to third base when Charlie Hayes left for free agency. He wasn't the most adept third baseman, but in 1995, no one paid much attention to his defense because he was smacking the ball all over the place. He hit 32 home runs that year, which was the first of five straight 30-HR seasons, including three straight 40-HR years (1996-98) and four straight 100-RBI years. Those number look impressive on paper, but remember that the thin air of Denver inflates offensive numbers. When Castilla was traded to the Rays that offseason, people expected his production to drop off, and did it ever.
In just 109 games, Castilla hit all of EIGHT home runs and slashed .219/.253/.316. The Rays released him in May 2001 but he shortly signed on with the Astros and hit 23 home runs in 122 games. He would return to the Braves on a two-year deal, with Chipper Jones moving to left field to accommodate the move, and hit .254 with 34 homers.
Castilla returned to Colorado for 2004 and led the league with 131 RBI while hitting 35 home runs. He joined the inaugural Nationals team in 2005, who then traded him to San Diego in the offseason. He would be released in July 2006 before playing his final 15 games with the Rockies. He retired with 320 home runs (239 with the Rockies) and 1,105 RBI while hitting .276 over a 16-year career.
He tried managing in his post-playing days, serving as manager of the Mexican team in the 2007 Pan-American Games and the 2009 WBC team. Castilla then served as a special assistant coach for the Rockies from 2012-15.