Who is Rusney Castillo? That’s a question I’m not sure we have an answer to yet. What we do know is the Red Sox gave him a huge contract and the recent history of Cuban defectors playing in the major leagues is very good.
The Red Sox signed the 27 year old Cuban defector to a seven year contract worth $71.35 million in late August, the highest contract for a Cuban free agent. Last off season Jose Abreu signed a six-year $68 million dollar contract for the White Sox, a deal which now looks like a bargain. So it’s only natural to expect the market for the Cuban free agents to go up. The contact leads me to believe that the Red Sox are very high on his skills and expect him to be playing in the majors soon.
As I mentioned above, the recent Cuban free agents have worked out very well. Back in the day it seemed the best you’d get from a Cuban free agent was Rey Ordonez, but that has all changed of late.
Two recent Cuban imports — Yasiel Puig and Jose Abreu are both undeniably huge success stories. Castillo’s soon-to-be teammate, slugger Yoenis Cespedes, as well as top closer Aroldis Chapman push the success rate even higher. This recent history makes future Cuban free agents seem that much more exciting.
It’s hard to look at his numbers in Cuba, or the very limited minor league at bats so far, to tell what kind of hitter he will be. In 19 minor league at bats he’s hitting .316 with a steal, three RBI, two walks and two strikeouts. Per the Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald, Castillo will be joining the Red Sox AAA team this week with the majors possibly not far behind.
If the numbers don’t really tell us much, we’ll need to look at what the scouts say. According to Bed Badler of Baseball America, scouts say his best tool is his speed, grading it as a 70 on the 20-80 scouting scale. Badler also states scouts have been surprised by his power. He was previously seen as a Rajai Davis type, but scouts now believe he has more power, and could be a 5 tool talent in center field.
He doesn’t appear to be a monster power guy, the likes of Abreu, but a solid 5 tool, maybe 20/20, type guy is very valuable in both fantasy and real baseball.
We may not know who Rusney Castillo is yet, but the scouting report and recent history of Cuban free agents, give us a lot of reason for optimism.
He likely won’t be able to help your fantasy baseball team much this year, but will be a very intriguing play next year. Let’s hope he gets a big league cup of coffee this year so we can try to get a better idea of who he is.