OF Rusney Castillo: Steal of 2015

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Boston Red Sox outfielder, Rusney Castillo‘s current draft day value is absolutely insane. Like crazy story out of Florida insane or Kanye West insane. Every time I do a mock draft or check the ADP boards I leave scratching my head wondering what the hell everyone else is thinking. Am I the one missing something? Or is the fantasy world once again underestimating a prized, 27 year old, Cuban prospect a-la Jose Abreu last season?

According to fantasypros.com, Castillo has an average ADP of 132.7 across six different sites – making him an early 14th round pick in ten team leagues, and if you are in a Yahoo! league you can currently snag him with the 177th pick in the 18th round. Once again, that is insane.

Look, I get that Castillo is from Cuba and that makes him a bit of an unknown but here’s what we do know:

  • In his last year in Cuba (2010-2011 season) he slashed .324/.373/.555 to go with 18 homers, 22 doubles, 75 runs, 79 RBI, and 29 steals in just 88 games.
  • He signed a record high seven year, $72.5 million dollar contract last summer, topping the $68 million the Chicago White Sox gave to Abreu the previous year.
  • He is not a kid; he is 27 years old.  Castillo is the same age that Abreu was at the start of last season,  and he is right in the beginning of what many consider to be a baseball players’ prime years.
  • Without spending any time in the Minor Leagues, he played in ten games with the Red Sox at the end of last season and slashed .333/.400/.528 with two homers, six runs, six RBI and three steals. Now, all small sample size caveats apply, but it was certainly an encouraging sample
  • In those ten games, he showed an incredible amount of plate discipline. According to Fangraphs, over that 10 game stretch (40 plate appearances) Castillo swung at 77 percent of the pitches he saw in the strike zone and swung at just 29.9 percent of the pitches he saw outside of the strike zone. The league average last season was a 65.7% swing rate at pitches in the zone and a 31.3% swing rate outside the zone,
  • Rusney Castillo’s plate discipline indicates to me that right from the get go.  He was not overwhelmed by major league pitching. To step in and perform like that right from the start is remarkably impressive.

We know that Castillo has a scary amount of potential and if he reaches it, then he will be a fantasy monster, a possible first round pick heading into 2016. How is that not worth a small gamble?

As of now here are some outfielders currently going ahead of Castillo: Mark Trumbo, Josh Harrison, Alex Gordon, Kole Calhoun, Christian Yelich and Charlie Blackmon. And if you’re in a Yahoo! league you can snag Castillo after guys like Lorenzo Cain, Danny Santana, Ben Revere and Alex Rios… yeah, Alex Rios!

Out of all of those guys I just listed above who has the most upside? Alex Gordon? Let’s take a look at Gordon’s Steamer projection: .270 average, 18 home runs, 77 runs, 72 RBI and 12 steals. If he fulfills that projection,  he is likely a fringe top-25 outfielder.

Now imagine that he exceeds those projections across the board by ten percent and hits .297 with 20 homers, 85 runs, 79 RBI and 13 steals (and let’s face it, the likelihood of this happening with a player who has a major league track record as lengthy as Gordon’s is very slim). What would that make him, Hunter Pence? A borderline top 10 outfielder at the absolute best?

We do not know what to expect from Castillo, but we do know that he is oozing with talent and is getting paid way too much money to not ensure him regular playing time. He has been advertised as a player with 25/25 skills, and he is yet to do anything to suggest that a 25/25 season is outside of the realm of possibilities in 2015.  If he does end up going 25/25, then you have got yourself a top-10 player. If you are telling me I could have Charlie Blackmon in the ninth round or gamble Castillo in the 14th, then I will take Castillo ten times out of ten.

I would be comfortable taking Castillo in the eighth round if that is what it took to get him, the fact that I can take him in the 13th and still be “reaching” for him gets me more excited than a kid on Christmas. With where he’s currently being drafted, Rusney Castillo is the steal of the draft so far in 2015.