Photo by Joe Wombaugh

Perusing around the Philadelphia Phillies blog world yesterday and this morning, you see passing mentions of the young pitcher the team lost in the Rule 5 Draft yesterday to the Chicago Cubs. The move garners no grousing; all teeth remain decidedly ungnashed. And that’s when the loss of Lendy Castillo is mentioned at all.

Does that mean the Cubs didn’t get themselves a gem yesterday? It wouldn’t be called a diamond in the rough if it were sitting on a desk. But, it certainly isn’t sexy, and Phillies fans aren’t worried about losing Castillo for good.

Or maybe they’re just not as obsessively tied to their middling prospects as we are.

So, who is this young pitcher, Lendy Castillo?

Well, for one thing, he’s only barely a pitcher. That is to say, he’s been pitching only two years. Plucked by the Phillies out of the Dominican Republic four years ago, Castillo was a promising young shortstop with a heck of an arm. The problem? He never put together the hitting thing.

He took immediately to pitching, putting up a 2.35 ERA in 65 innings between rookie ball and low A in 2010. He struck out 65, and walked just 26. In 2011, promoted to A-ball, Castillo moved to the bullpen, and again was great: 2.54 ERA, 1.152 WHIP, and 46 Ks in 46 innings (kid apparently has the uncanny ability to strike out exactly one batter per inning). Once again, he showed promising control, walking just 16. On paper, you can see why Jason McLeod and the Cubs’ scouting department would gravate toward Castillo.

And scouts like him in person, too. He’s got an easy delivery with a fastball that sits in the mid-90s and touches the upper-90s, and he’s got decent size at 6’1″. He’s not described as “polished,” but between the fastball and “the makings of a solid breaking ball,” Castillo’s upside is as a back-end reliever in the bigs.

If he were a Cubs prospect, I’d probably unreasonably hype him. But he’s not a prospect – he’s gotta go from the low minors to the bigs in 2012.

Rule 5 picks have to stick on the selecting team’s 25-man roster all year (including at least 90 days active (and then they all seem to come down with a mysterious arm ailment on day 91)), so the Cubs’ only hope to keep Castillo is to work him in limited duty out of the pen. He’ll have Spring Training to show what he can do, but it’s a long way from A-ball to the bigs, even for a reliever.

It’s easy to see why the Cubs were willing to take a chance on Castillo, but that’s all it is – a chance. A small one.

  • Fishin Phil

    I kind of wondered about his realistic chances of sticking when I read about him yesterday.  I guess we’ll find out!

  • Luke

    If Samardzija goes into the rotation and Cashner goes into the pen, I think Castillo could work. He would become the guy you call in to get one or two outs in a non-critical situation. That would leave Cashner to step in the closer position (if Marmol is gone), with Marshall and Wood setting him up (assuming the Wood deal gets done). Add in Russell, and that’s still a pretty good bullpen.

    It can work, but if it doesn’t the Cubs could probably flip a low level prospect to the Phillies in order to keep Castillo.

    • Cedlandrum

      I don’t mind this pick because it may allow Dolis and Carpentar to develop a bit longer in the minors. But he is going to have to be DL’d on day 91 because he certainly is not more ready then either of those guys. This is David Patton Redux, IF they keep him.

      • Luke

        Here’s hoping they use this as a reason to give Dolis one more shot as a starter. I’d rather have him in the rotation than in the pen.

    • Brett

      The Cubs will probably have to continue carrying 12 pitchers to make it work. Not that I’m against that, just saying. That didn’t used to be the norm.

    • BetterNews

      Wood needs to step down!

  • ferrets_bueller

    Am I the only person who finds it amusing that we’re essentially ‘borrowing’ a guy named ‘Lendy’?

    • Brett

      Haha. Nailed it.

  • die hard

    Pick means Cubs know something not yet disclosed about their other pitchers.

    • Luke

      I doubt it. If that were the case, the Cubs would have taken one of several much more polished pitchers that were available. This is straight up gamble on raw upside, and not much else. If it pays off, the Cubs get a nice pitching prospect. If it doesn’t, they lose $25,000.

  • polocubs

    i am not a lawyer, an accountant, or even a cyber man…i may know nothing…but im seeing some small pieces being put in place…with pujols now out of the division, i think the field has been somewhat leveled…if we were to sign fielder…get some pitching and a few others pieces…i truly believe that we could make a good run in 2012…and still be in a position of developing the farm for the future…the opportunity is there now to turn this around without mortgaging the future…of course a little luck along the way would not hurt

    • Internet Random

      i am not a lawyer, an accountant, or even a cyber man . . . .

      Lawyers, accountants, and cyber men do not have the market cornered on making valuable comments.

    • Andrewmoore4isu

      The ultimate cubs fan optimism

  • Robert

    You know… last night i absolutely hated that trade. but after a long night to think about things this can be a very GOOD trade or a totall bust. i believe theo and company should Move Stewart to 2nd base giving us a pereniel 2nd baseman… if he perfroms to his potential. and we could use Barney as our utility man- pinch running. or ive him a few starts at SS ans give starlin some time off. 2012 starting linup including everything!
    Lahair/Fielder-1st.. most likely Lahair.. but you never know.. prince is a possibility.
    Headley-3rd… if we get him
    4-Darvish.. If we get him
    5- Lopez
    a few no names and were set,
    Could this linup compete? sure. Could this linup get us to the playoffs? add another average starter and a few breaks and some luck and sure?

    • hansman1982

      Please take this not as bashing but…

      5- Lopez – hopefully you mean Jennifer Lopez.  Rodrigo belongs nowhere else than as the long man in the bullpen.  He will give you 3 maybe 4 ok innings if you need them but to give him the ball every 5th day with Shark in the pen is irresponsible.

      • MoneyBoy

        Hans … Lopez, when he pitched well, was little more than a 6 inn. guy.   All too often Q left him in to start the 7th with no one up in the pen … KABOOM.

        If Shark makes the rotation I could see some value to Lopez in the role Ortiz served … long man in situations when a starter blows up – with an occasional “Lendy” appearance (doff of the chapeau to Ferrets).

    • MightyBear

      I had a similar post last night with that roster except I worked with what the Cubs have now. It’s not too bad but I would have Wells as 5th starter. Don’t give up on Wells yet folks. He’s never going to be a dominant 1 but as 4 or 5, I believe he can be solid and he’s still under control for several years, cheaply.

  • Shawty Son

    Brett, Does Starlin Castro’s on base streak continue going into opening day? he’s at what? 30 or 40?

  • SirCub

    A longshot, maybe. But there is good upside, and where is the risk? Seems like a smart move to me.

  • college_of_coaches

    Brett, any thoughts or insight into the selection and subsequent selling of Ricky Alvarez’s contract to the Monterrey Sultans of the Mexican League? Does this mean that the Cubs still retain rights to Alvarez while he plays for this unaffiliated minor league team?

    • Brett

      My understanding is that, unlike in the Major League phase of the Rule 5, when a player is taken in one of the minor league phases, the selecting team has that player, totally, without having to place them on any particular roster. So, with that in mind, I reckon when the Cubs sold his rights, he’s gone. It was undoubtedly a favor to that particular team – probably some friends of the organization are affiliated with that team.

      • EtotheR

        Although…given the current state of things in Mexico, it’s a tad like trading a guy to the Pakistan Extraneous Mountain Range Terror Goats.

        A rather Byzantine move…say you not?

      • college_of_coaches

        Thanks Brett.

        I also considered the favor angle, and I wonder if Hoystein have their eyes on some Mexican prospects that are contractually tied to the Monterrey club. Theo did say that they would explore every option in rebuilding the organization (or something along those lines).

        BTW, you’ve got a great site here. I love reading it. Keep up the good work!

  • Oswego Chris

    With the waiver claim the Cubs just made, and the Stewart/Weathers trade, it’s obvious that Theo’s strategy is to acquire as many guys in their 20’s who were once top prospects/shown flashes of MLB success and look for bounce backs….low risk moves(although losing LaMahieu and Colvin is a risk) with potential high rewards….

    as much as I used to defend Hendry, the one refreshing thing about the new guys is that they obviously believe in planning and strategies…whereas I think Hendry, who wasn’t horrible throuhout is tenure, never really had a strategy until it was too late(i.e getting a lefty hitter after years and years of never considering it)

    OK now one of the numerous Diehards can tell me I am drinking the Kool-Aid…to which I really don’t care