We still don’t have word on whether the Chicago Cubs definitively have conducted, or will conduct, a private workout with 27-year-old Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo, who was scheduled to participate in one with the Seattle Mariners yesterday. That workout has reportedly been postponed, though it’s unclear why. He had a few last week, reportedly with the Phillies, Red Sox, and Orioles, and more could still be coming.
The 5’9″ 205 lbs bowling ball of a center fielder has been the subject of some debate in the scouting community, with some seeing a 4th/5th outfielder type with speed off the bench, and others seeing an impact starter with a top-of-the-order bat and a fair bit of pop.
Ben Badler writes at Baseball America that the question was clarified for many scouts at his recent public workout, with many seeing more power than they previously expected. It’s an interesting and thorough take on Castillo, from the scouting side, providing a little bit more on what you could hope to have in someone like Castillo. The comp Badler comes up with is Rajai Davis with a little more power. It’s easy to forget that Davis amassed nearly 5.0 WAR in the two years he was given regular starts for the A’s in his late-20s. Add a little pop to that, and you have a really nice player (though arguably not an impact guy).
One thing we’ve been waiting on is to try and determine the Trade Deadline impact on Castillo’s market. Conceding that, in my opinion, wanting an impact down the stretch this year is a lot to ask of a guy making his big league debut after not playing competitively for months and months, there were still some moves that clarified the Castillo market heading into 2015.
As Badler pointed out on Twitter, with the Red Sox adding Yoenis Cespedes for the mix for next year, it’s a little harder to see where Castillo would fit as a regular starter in the outfield there. But, as perhaps one suitor goes out, another had its need tick up quite a bit, with the Tigers trading away Austin Jackson, leaving a wide open outfield into which Castillo could slot. It’s not hard to see the Tigers as a significant threat, together with the Phillies, given the deep pockets and obvious need.
The obligatory caveat here is that we still don’t have a great gauge on (1) how interested the Cubs are (beyond “they’re interested”), and (2) how much Castillo is going to cost. What you don’t want to do is pay Castillo for the success of other Cuban players, merely because those particular talents were undervalued/underscouted/etc. But, by the same token, if there’s something special there in a player who could provide something the Cubs will need as soon as 2015, you don’t want to miss out.