Rusney Castillo Not Leading Off, Says John Farrell


Rusney Castillo is not the future of the Boston Red Sox batting lineup, yet.

Reporting for, Rob Bradford stated earlier this morning that John Farrell‘s interview on the Arbella Hot Stove Show, yesterday, had some pretty interesting comments on how the team would shape up in 2015. One of those comments was Farrell’s thought that Castillo was not the man whom will lead off for the Red Sox next spring. At least, not yet:

"“I think in Castillo’s case — while he shows you that ability to steal a base, he has some, I think very good gap power and he swung the bat good for us in the 10 games that he played — I think it is probably best that we bring him along maybe a little bit along the way. Maybe give him some at-bats, whether that is in the bottom third of the order, not to pin him into that spot, but I think that is the best way to acclimate him as we go forward.” – John Farrell"

When asked about who would be a good fit to lead the team’s potentially potent offence, Farrell spoke of Mookie Betts, saying, “I think what Mookie showed in the time that he was in the leadoff spot was very encouraging … His on-base skills have been consistent at every level through the minor leagues. It was the same when he came to Boston” (Bradford). Farrell also said, “Brock Holt is another guy that could fit into that spot when he is in the lineup on a given day” (Bradford).

Sep 21, 2014; Baltimore, MD, USA; Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell (53) during a game against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

As far as sample sizes, Farrell could be making the right decision.

It is tough making decisions about young players, when they come up from the minors. If they do not get many games, their recent success could have been because of slumping pitchers or a batter being unfamiliar to opposing pitching charts. Castillo only played 10 games for the Red Sox. Betts played 52 games and Holt played 106 games. Farrell has seen young players brought up and placed into burdening pressure first hand, in his time with the Toronto Blue Jays, when Ricky Romero went from being an All-Star to being sent back down to rediscover his stuff. Farrell would not want the same thing to happen to Castillo, when he is so close to being a bonafide superstar for the Red Sox.

It is a matter of how well Castillo feels that he can handle the pressure and prove it to Farrell. The 27-year-old, Cuban native batted right-handed for .333, with a .400 on-base percentage and a .528 slugging percentage. That is a heavy bat, swung by a man who has a knack for getting on base. His short time with the club allowed him to hit two home runs, six RBIs, and three stolen bases in only 40 plate appearances. Betts has pop in his bat as well, hitting .291, with a .368 OBP and a .444 SLG; while Holt was not too shabby either, hitting .281, with a .331 OBP and .381 SLG. Judging soley on production, and not the amount of chances, Castillo is the winner, but that’s not what Farrell is interested in evaluating. Consistency through time is the bigger factor.

Betts had 173 more plate appearances than Castillo. Holt had 452 more. That is 625 more chances to succeed, but also 625 more chances to fail. Betts and Holt have still much to prove to Farrell as well, but at least their sample sizes are beyond a month.

Sep 27, 2014; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox second baseman Mookie Betts (50) hits a double during the first inning against the New York Yankees at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Sometimes, the dreams of what could be are what cloud our judgement of what will be. Castillo could very well be an immediate superstar, but he could also get shell-shocked if he is baptized by fire in the cathedral of Boston. Why throw him in there if you have a chance to bring him in slowly, to warm up to the pressure? Castillo is not that young, but he is also signed through the 2020 season. That contract gives Farrell possibly six seasons of Castillo’s services, as he could opt out of his contract in 2019.

Red Sox Nation may start to wonder about Farrell’s recent statement, as Castillo would be making over $11 million a season to play minor league baseball. Yet, Farrell’s plan at this point could be the best thing for everyone. With David Ortiz being the only true left-handed hitter in the starting lineup, with Pablo Sandoval possibly switch-hitting, the Red Sox would need another lefty bat, like Brock Holt‘s, to help the team. Mookie Betts could also make an even bigger splash than he already did, last season. One thing is for certain: when Farrell thinks Betts, Holt, and Castillo are ready, these three players will be impact players for the future. Farrell may just not think the future is now… yet.