Is Rusney Castillo ready for the Red Sox?


Prior to the Red Sox series with the New York Yankees last week, Ricky Keeler of the Yanks Go Yard radio show asked me if I thought recent acquisition Rusney Castillo would see time in the Majors in September. My response was that, after a long layoff from baseball, both leading up to and after his defection from Cuba, it was in the team’s best interest for Castillo to get as many competitive at-bats as possible.

Since the Minor League slate concludes before the Major League schedule does (Castillo’s current team, the Pawtucket Red Sox, presently trail the Durham Bulls two games to one in a best of five series to determine the International League champion), it is reasonable to suggest Castillo will be in Boston Red Sox threads sooner rather than later.

But is Rusney ready for prime time?

We have little idea of the status of his cultural and social adjustments to living in a new country and interacting with new teammates (particularly as he has rocketed through three levels of the Minors in a couple of weeks). We do know he has an interpreter in Laz Gutierrez, the Red Sox player development programs coordinator, and Castillo’s responses through Gutierrez have largely been out of the Crash Davis notebook.

But in the sense that his play can do the talking, Castillo has looked sharp. The center fielder is 8-for-27 (.296) in eight Minor League games and has flexed extra-base power, patience and speed in those limited opportunities.

Castillo hit leadoff for the Paw Sox and went 1-4 Wednesday night with a single, walk, and a run scored. In his Pawtucket debut Tuesday, he also went 1-4, getting on base with his legs (an infield hit) but was cut down at second almost immediately on an attempted steal. He also whiffed twice.

On Sunday, in his final game with the Portland Sea Dogs, Castillo went 2-for-5 with a double to open the contest (he later scored), and  also contributed a run-scoring single.

The praise from coaches during his ascent has been effusive. But what else could it be for a guy for whom the Red Sox just unloaded $72 million? If Rusney Castillo, among a glut of outfielders, projects to be the starter in center next season for the Boston Red Sox, they’re going to want to give him some Major League at-bats before the season’s up. He has the natural tools and has looked like a hitter during his short stint in the Minors.

If the Sox are looking to trade their newest asset in a deal for, say, Giancarlo Stanton, I could understand hiding him so as not to create an opportunity to damage his value. But that’s not likely to happen. So, let’s seem him.

Give Rusney a shot on the big stage.