Rusney Castillo worked out for scouts today and the results were impressive. Castillo worked out at the University of Miami. The 27 year old outfielder played for Cuba’s Cuban National Series for five years from 2008 to 2012 and defected last September. He has been described by some scouts as Brett Gardner with more power. All-stars Kenny Lofton and Jacoby Ellsbury have also been mentioned as comparisons.
His best tool is his speed and it was on display today. Scouts at the workout placed it somewhere between 60 and 80, with many putting a 70 on it. The knock on him, though, is that he ran in a straight line and teams didn’t get to see him run the bases.
He did surprise some of the scouts on hand with his hit tool and power. He was hitting the ball with authority to all fields and had a couple long home runs.
The hitting is going to be important because his position is a bit of an issue. Reports from the workout suggest that he is not a major league shortstop. In the outfield, his position will depend largely on his arm. Unfortunately, the scouts there were not impressed and the best grades were a 50, though one industry source we talked to described it as “fringe.” Our source went on to say, “He’s a left fielder.”
That is potentially problematic as all of the comparisons above are elite center fielders. They would lose significant value at a corner. So, can the bat carry a corner position? Some scouts believe it can. The Cubs are in a unique position in this race. If they have faith in both Javier Baez and Kris Bryant to make it to the majors soon, they have an infield of Rizzo-Baez-Castro-Bryant. Baez, Bryant, and Rizzo all have 30+ home run potential and Castro looks like he’ll have 20+ home runs. With run producers at every position in the infield, the Cubs can afford to have and, in fact, may benefit from a top-of-the order speedster in left.
The front office may be thinking along these lines as our source reports that the Cubs were well represented at the workout today and entered the workout very interested in Castillo. Given the success of recent defectees Yasiel Puig and Jose Abreu, expect the Cubs’ new financial flexibility to be tested here.
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