Mar 24, 2015; Jupiter, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox center fielder Rusney Castillo (38) at bat against the Miami Marlins at Roger Dean Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
The Red Sox announced on Thursday that outfielder Rusney Castillo will start the year in Triple-A Pawtucket. The Cuban was battling for the starting rightfield job with veteran Shane Victorino, who’s experience likely helped him get the job. An oblique strain sidelined Castillo for the first half of the Spring, which prevented him from playing his first game until the 20th of March. The shortened Spring led the Red Sox to make the move to get him more at bats before inserting him into their starting lineup.
He played pretty well, going 9 for 29 with a double, triple, and two homers. He didn’t take any walks at all, but it probably isn’t too concerning for the team given the sample size. He has the makings of a superstar, something the Red Sox envisioned him being after signing him to a $72.5 million contract through 2020. The team probably doesn’t think the 27-year old needs much Minor League fine tuning, but they’re probably thinking that 9 games weren’t enough to get him ready for the start of the season. He certainly didn’t lose the job to Victorino based on numbers, as the veteran went just 6 for 35 with only two extra base hits this Spring.
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The Red Sox paid Castillo the money they did because they believed he can contribute at the Major League level right away. As soon as he gets enough at bats in Pawtucket, he should be called up and and become a regular in the lineup. Victorino brings a veteran presence to the lineup, but at this point in his career, he can’t compete with what Castillo can bring to the table.
The 5 foot 9 inch, 200 pounder hit well in his cup of coffee last season in Boston, but it remains to be seen whether his game will translate to big numbers over a full Major League season. Despite being a shorter outfielder, he has surprising power and speed that go along with a fantastic ability to make consistent, solid contact. His defense projects well for centerfield, where he tracks well and has a strong throwing arm.
Red Sox fans were probably hoping to see Castillo as well as catcher Blake Swihart make the roster, especially after Christian Vasquez‘s injury. However, the team is taking it easy with their top prospects, hoping to get them regular at bats in the Minors so that they will be ready to contribute in Boston by mid-season and into the playoffs. It will be interesting to see what kind of numbers he puts up in Triple-A, and when exactly the team will decide to go with him over Victorino.