The buzz about 27-year-old Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo is building, and will probably reach a fevered pitch shortly after he works out in Miami for MLB teams tomorrow.
Jon Heyman reports that the Cubs, together with a long list of other teams, will be in attendance to evaluate Castillo, about whom we’ve spoken before. Sahadev Sharma adds that it won’t just be a low-level scout or two for the Cubs; the team “will have a significant presence looking on, including some high-ranking officials.”
Sharma’s piece is a good read for more background on Castillo, including more divergence in the opinions on whether Castillo is going to be an impact, top-of-the-order type starter in center field, or whether he’ll struggle with an aggressive swing and contact issues. Valuing Castillo, in terms of a projected contract, remains the work of folks with a hell of a lot more information than I have. (And, even those folks will probably vary wildly in their valuations.)
Interestingly, Jesse Sanchez reports that Castillo – who does have both infield and outfield experience in Cuba – will work out in center field and at shortstop on Saturday. If there are teams that believe he can play big league shortstop (where he wouldn’t have a position on the Cubs), the value equation from a bidder perspective changes dramatically. A Kenny Lofton-esque bat – if that’s what teams believe he can be – that plays shortstop is worth quite a bit more than a Kenny Lofton-esque bat that plays center field.
The Cubs are apparently committed to at least giving Castillo a very thorough look tomorrow, which could be the last time teams get to evaluate Castillo in person before he signs. It’s tough with Cuban players, for obvious reasons, to get a strong scouting read on how they’ll perform in the big leagues. So a showcase like tomorrow’s probably carries more weight than a one-day event would typically hold for a player that teams have been able to see competitively at high levels for years.
Keep in mind: sending a large contingent of high-level team officials/evaluators to see Castillo could be as much about ruling out a serious pursuit as ruling it in. That is to say that just because the Cubs will have a “significant presence” to see Castillo tomorrow doesn’t mean they’re definitely going to go all out in the bidding thereafter.
But, clearly they’re taking this very seriously. And I do like that.