Boston Red Sox Report Cards: Rusney Castillo


Now that the 2015 season is in the books, the BoSox Injection staff will hand out their final report cards, grading the performances of each member of the Boston Red Sox roster based on their expectations entering the season.

RUSNEY CASTILLO . C-. . Outfielder.

2015 stats: .253/.288/.359, 5 HR, 29 RBI, 0.8 WAR

The brief glimpse that we were given of Rusney Castillo last September set the stage for high expectations entering this season. Once we finally got an extended look at the $72.5 million man from Cuba, the results were a bit underwhelming.

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Castillo’s rookie season got off to a rocky start due to a series of nagging health issues. His development over the offseason was interrupted by a thumb injury that he dealt with during his stint in the Arizona Fall League, then an oblique injury that bothered him during spring training. The lack of preparation time due to these issues led to him being optioned to Pawtucket to begin the season, but it didn’t take long for another health concern to pop up. Castillo hurt his shoulder in mid-April, sidelining him for weeks and delaying his promotion to the big leagues until May 22.

Once Castillo finally made his way to Boston it took a while for him to find his swing. Last year he hit .333 in the 10-game sample size we saw him in, but he hit a meager .233 in his first 10 games this season. By late June Castillo was still hitting only .230, prompting the Red Sox to demote him back to Pawtucket for some more seasoning.

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When Castillo worked his way back up to Boston over a month later he seemed like a completely different hitter, showcasing the tools that had scouts raving when the Red Sox first signed him. He hit .333 from the time he was promoted on July 27 through the end of August, raising his season average briefly above .300 at one point. Whether the June demotion was a wake-up call or Castillo simply needed more time to develop in the minors following several injury setbacks, it was finally looking like the Red Sox were getting the five-tool player they hoped for.

As encouraging as that stretch was, the excitement wouldn’t last. Castillo struggled down the stretch, hitting .225 without a home run in September and going hitless in 14 October at-bats. In Tuesday’s press conference, president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said that he thought Castillo looked tired late in the season. That’s not surprising, considering Castillo hasn’t dealt with a grueling full-season schedule in some time. He went about two years without playing baseball during his defection from Cuba, then played only a shortened season in 2014.

While Castillo figures to claim one of the starting outfield spots next season, Dombrowski seemed to express more confidence in Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley, Jr. The Red Sox are expected to explore options to add a fourth outfielder to the mix who could potentially push Castillo for playing time. A little competition isn’t necessarily a bad thing, especially if the added motivation fuels Castillo to become the player he is capable of.