The Toronto Blue Jays face an interesting situation this coming winter, with both Melky Cabrera and Colby Rasmus due to become free agents. So one cannot blame them for looking into all available avenues to find a new outfielder to plug into the mix in 2015. No one can blame them for looking at Cuban defector Rusney Castillo either.
“Brett Gardner with power”
According to Shi Davidi (via Twitter), the Toronto Blue Jays were one of the teams in attendance on Saturday to witness Rusney Castillo put on a display during his Miami workout. Unfortunately, as Baseball America is reporting, there is ample competition for his services with as many as 28 of the 30 teams represented at the showcase.
That’s a pretty impressive turnout and it speaks as much to the potential of the 5’9″, 205lb Castillo, as it does for the impression that he could become the next big star out of Cuba, following in the footsteps of Yoenis Cespedes, Yasiel Puig, and Jose Abreu.
A speedy outfielder who has seen time in both center field and right field, however Baseball America noted that his arm likely means he’ll be more of a left fielder or center fielder, which will fit nicely for the Blue Jays needs. One scout even noted that he had a “50 arm” and another saying it is “his weakest tool”.
Call to the Pen
However, while scouts love a good arm in the outfielder, it was his speed and power potential that had teams in attendance. According to the Baseball America report, he put on a show both in live batting practice and in the cage, showing power to all fields and an ability to find the gaps.
As for the speed, there is ample wheels in Castillo’s house. The BA report states that Castillo was likely a 70 runner, although they failed to get a great read on it as he only ran the 60-yard sprint, and did not showcase on the bases. Based on this input, the scouting reports seem to be pretty accurate.
The speed and power combo, as well as his ability to play around the outfield puts him spot on with Jon Heyman’s initial comparison of “Brett Gardner with power”. Given how Gardner has performed over the last few years with the Yankees, and the potential for increased power, I think any team would be happy to bring him on-board and give him the contract to play at the Major League level immediately, including the Blue Jays who will have such a need in 2015.
Oh, and if you need any further tempting, there is this solid compilation video of Rusney Castillo from Baseball America. Enjoy.