Over the past ten to twenty years, numerous Cuban born players have made the arduous journey from their island nation to other countries in their quest to play major league baseball. Recently, several major stars have emerged from Cuba, such as Aroldis Chapman, Yoenis Cespedes, Yasiel Puig and Jose Abreu. Naturally, with Cuban players being relatively unknown quantities, there have been misses, such as Leslie Anderson. That unknown nature is part of what makes these players so intriguing.
The latest Cuban prospect, 27 year old Rusney Castillo, certainly fits in with that intrigue. Slated to hold a showcase for interested teams on Saturday, Castillo is certainly not expected to become the type of player that Puig, Cespedes or Abreu have proven to be. However, based on the scouting report that Ben Badler of Baseball America has put together on Castillo, that does not mean that he could not be a productive player on the major league level.
While Castillo’s statistics during his last season in Cuba look mediocre, as he produced a .250/.352/.342 batting line during the 2012-13 season, that has not been indicative of the type of player he is. The previous season, Castillo produced a .332/.395/.545 batting line with 16 home runs and a league leading 28 doubles. Projected as a line drive hitter with excellent speed, Castillo is expected to be more of a doubles hitter and a threat upon the basepaths, as he frequently ranked amongst the league leaders in stolen bases in Cuba.
A doubles hitter with gap power, a line drive swing and the ability to steal bases? That type of player sounds remarkably like the type of players that Dayton Moore has acquired during his tenure in Kansas City. Even though Rusney Castillo was primarily a center fielder in Cuba, he could possibly be moved to a corner outfield position. As Nori Aoki is a free agent at the end of the season, Castillo may be an interesting player for the Royals to consider.
As someone who appears to profile more as a leadoff or second hitter in the lineup, Castillo does not appear as though he would receive anything near the type of contract that Puig or Abreu were signed for after their defections. However, a four or five year contract for anywhere between $20 to $25 Million may be the type of offer that Castillo receives. That number could even climb if Castillo impresses during his showcase, as Cuban players are exempt from the international spending cap.
The Royals may have an opening in their outfield next season. If so, the intriguing Rusney Castillo may be a perfect fit.