Rusney Castillo's second half

The Slidey Dog

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I have been coming to this site for a long time, even before Schilling made his Thanksgiving appearance back in 2003. I use the main board as a source of Sox news and links to interesting articles, but I really enjoy the Minor League section. Those of you who post in this section are crazy, and I mean that as the highest of compliments. I have never desired to become a full posting member as I do not really have the time to make sure I am thoughtfully adding to any conversation. However, I think I can add to this one. I live part-time in San Juan and attend Winter League games semi-regularly. I have two reasons for posting and think the SOSH community would find the following thoughts interesting.

My first thoughts regard the Rusney and Christian discussion. I have only attended Santurce games at Hiram Bithorn Stadium and with a 40 game schedule, all the SSS caveats apply. It is also impossible to get in depth stats with this league. I know everyone knows this, but Christian is such a great defender and a pleasure to watch. He receives the pitch so effortlessly with no mitt movement that you would think he is a machine. Of the games I have attended, no one has tried to steal on him. As far as his hitting, the numbers this year make him seem worse than he has been. The league is a pitchers league and Hiram Bithorn is a brutal place to hit. The wind is constantly coming in, particularly from LF and the foul territory makes Oakland's seem small (there are foul pops that land in play that sometimes the catchers don't even go after). His .650 OPS is easily in the top 3rd in the league. My "eye" observations are that he actually has a pretty good sense of the strike zone. I watch most games from directly in back of the plate, he lets a lot of close pitches go and I think he has walked more than he has struck out. That said, when he makes contact, it is not strong. Hiram Bithorn is also artificial turf, so all those ground balls take perfect hops and he has no chance. I think Leon is the proverbial pumpkin, so I hope the Sox keep him and he becomes the RH platoon of sorts with Swihart.

Caugas has come through twice and Rusney played both times. In 8 ABs he was 3-7 with a walk and no Ks. All his balls in play were smoked. I am not qualified to observe if he has made changes that spurred his second half resurgence and spillover to the Winter League, but I can see he looks good now. If he had enough ABs to qualify, he would have won AVG and OPS titles by daylight. He does play in the one hitters park (elevation, in valley with no wind, smaller dimensions) though. I have the same flicker of hope some of you above have - its too bad his contract and the Sox position with the luxury tax will probably keep him in AAA.

The second reason for posting is to promote the Puerto Rican Winter League in general. For those of you really missing baseball in the winter months, come down here. The Season starts around Halloween and ends New Years. January is playoff month. February is the Caribbean Series (won't be back in PR until 2019). Puerto Rico is the US, so no passport or currency exchange. There are lots of daily flights from the Eastern Seaboard cities. The San Juan metro area is like a lot of small US cities, it has it's poverty, but also has all the modern amenities you expect (the Malls are great - one is like an indoor Fifth Avenue). The financial crisis does not register in day to day life other than the lack of road repairs. Stay in Isla Verde, it is a great beach and all the hotels are resortish with Casinos and organized activities (snorkeling, hiking etc.) - Old San Juan is close and a great day trip. The food around here is outstanding.

At night, the metro area has two ballparks. I mentioned Hiram Bithorn where Santurce plays. Carolina's park is closer to the airport. With two parks, there is a good chance there will be a game most nights during the regular season. Unfortunately for the league, games are not well attended anymore, which benefits the baseball tourist. There are usually only a couple hundred people for the regular season, first round playoffs get a few thousand. I have not been to a finals round game yet. Box seats are $12/$15 reg/playoff. I always get a front row seat. The baseball quality is very crisp, errors are rare, guys are hustling, all the back-up and cut-off plays are executed sharply - its good baseball.

The players are friendly and interact with the crowd. One game I brought my seven year old. We sat in the front row behind the dugout. He was the only kid in the section. Each of the different players making the last out flipped him the ball, we were looking for other kids to give them to, but there were not any - he went home with six balls. Once of Santurce's coaches is Edgar Perez, the Sox PR area scout and recently promoted to international cross-checker. He saw our Sox hats and came over to speak for awhile. Great guy. He went into the batting cage to get Christian (he insisted we call him by his first name). Christian picked my son up and brought him out onto the field for pictures and autograph. He is a real nice kid and another big reason to root for him to be part of the equation with Swihart.

Sorry for the long post, but as you can see, I am passionate about the PR Winter League. I am not sure if I am set-up for personal messages, but if I am, please reach out if any of you want information about San Juan and the League. Thank you to everyone at this site - it is a real pleasure for those of us who do not live in Boston.
 

Plympton91

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Agree. Fantastic contribution.

I think the lack of hard contact with Christian is a real red flag, especially given that the artificial turf should allow some grounders to get through that Fenway's grass will devour.

Good to hear Castillo was rifling the ball and not all his stats are just lucky BABiP.
 

Harry Hooper

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Great read, Slidey.

For the eventual Puerto Rico Winter League thread, Boston's Channel 5 did a feature on their Chronicle show this week on Vieques. Here's one segment:
 

Plympton91

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Is there any way to get the playoff box scores? Love to know the results of Castillo's playoff at bats.
 

The Slidey Dog

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From this page you should be able to link to everything MLB.com had about the league, including the scores. I think Rusney went 2-4 last night in a loss and Christian went 0-4. In game 1, Christian went 2-4 are had two hard hit balls, a double and a single that many runners would have turned into a double.

http://mlb.mlb.com/milb/stats/standings.jsp?sid=l133&lid=133&t=l_sta

To start a PR Winter League thread, I assume I should start it in the Minor League Section?
 

Plympton91

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Just quickly clicked through the PR playoffs and championship. Vazquez and Castillo squared off for the championship, so they both got 10-12 extra high pressure games in. I didn't tally detailed lines for them, but Vazquez hit .395 for the post-season, with I think at least 2 2B and 2 3B, Castillo hit .278 with at least 2 2B, and 2 HR.

Nice tune up for both of them. Vazquez's spike in production would be a sight for sore eyes from a C. Castillo's getting a couple HR's to go with all the hits earlier in the season is also a nice sign.

If Castillo has a great spring with three reasonable price years and an option left, maybe he can become a trade chip for someone like Todd Frazier, who only has one year left.
 

moondog80

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Castillo's contract is so far into negative value territory that he'd need a lot more than a good spring to get to even "we'll pay his contract but not give you anything" status, much less a chip in a package for an actual useful player.
 

Cesar Crespo

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Castillo would probably have to prove himself at the Major League level and the Sox aren't in a position to call him up due to the luxury tax. He would literally need to OPS 1.000 into July at AAA.
 

chrisfont9

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Castillo would probably have to prove himself at the Major League level and the Sox aren't in a position to call him up due to the luxury tax. He would literally need to OPS 1.000 into July at AAA.
Well, it's all relative to what's happening in Boston. But clearly they won't spend the money unless he proves his worth AND there's a serious need for him.
 

InsideTheParker

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The Slidey Dog

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I am sorry I didn't get a chance to start a Puerto Rican Winter League thread, I just got too busy before Winter season ended. I have it my calendar to start one next November in order to follow and Sox players that may be in the league next year and general information for anyone who wants to take a vacation down here.

The PR league and Caribbean Series are over. Rusney's team, Caugas, defeated Christian's team, Santurce, in the PR Championship series and represented PR in the Caribbean Series. Caugas won 1-0 in 10 against Mexico last night and are the 2017 Champions, the first PR Champion I think since 2000.

Rusney played in 14 PR playoff games and 5 more in the Series. After a solid PR regular season, where I personally watched him regularly hit the ball hard, he reverted to more of what we know of him. I was only able to attend Santurce's first round and was out of PR for the Championship, so I did not see a single AB of his in the post-season. His post-season line: 19 G, 84 PA, .253/.262/.398, 12 R, 3 HR, 8 RBI, 3 SB, but 16 K to only 1 BB. I know its only 19 games, but 16:1 is not going provide value to the Sox or anyone else at the MLB level.

Christian on the other hand had a pretty good post-season: 13 G, 48 PA, .405/.479/.595, 5 R, 4 2b, 2 3b, no HR, 11 RBI, 6 BB and 3 K. I did see a few of his 1st round games and the hits were not cheap. His defensive reputation in accurate in my eye. He does have decent plate discipline, so I hold out hope that he will be a good back-up C for the Sox the next few years. He keeps his Ks down and walks enough where I can envision in a good BABIP year, he might have an OBP north of .340. I may be wishcasting a bit since he is such a good guy, but given the state of back-up catching at the MLB level, there is value here. I think Sandy Leon is the proverbial pumpkin, so I am hoping that value materializes along with a rejuvenated Blake Swihart by June (then maybe next year, Devers at 3b and Travis at 1b and the Sox can have a fully homegrown field, that would be something, would it not?).
 

Cesar Crespo

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From May 17th-June 17th in 26 games and 114 PA, Rusney slashed .340/.377/.604 with a BAbip of .330. He has 6 HRs and 4 SB in that time.

He is up to 9 HRs for the year in 235 PA. Prior to this year, he had 12 HRs in his Minor/MLB career in 938 PA. Rusney also continues to mash lefties. He'd definitely be in the Majors if not for his contract. Slash line for the year is now at .296/.328/.493 on a .306 BAbip. He still hits a ton of balls on the ground though.
 

gryoung

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No place for him with the big club unless a string of injuries .......but he could be a chip in a trade. Providing the contract situation is shared of course as it's doubtful the Sox would eat the whole thing.
 

Rovin Romine

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No place for him with the big club unless a string of injuries .......but he could be a chip in a trade. Providing the contract situation is shared of course as it's doubtful the Sox would eat the whole thing.
His contract is $11M for 2017, 2018, 2019 (with player opt out after 2019 season), and $14M for 2020.

Assuming he's a passable CF with a pronounced batting split favoring lefties, he's likely no more valuable than Chris Young (as a rough thumbnail) who commands a $6M contract. Or for another comp, his bat against LHP isn't all that much better than Bryce Brentz. (Castillo is starting to hit RHP at AAA though.)

If he was having this season in AAA at age 26, someone might be interested even with the contract. However, he's 29, turning 30 in July.

By comparison, famous late bloomer Matt Stairs got 137AB, .915 OPS in 1996 for Oakland in his age 28 season (mostly against RHP). By age 29, he was a full time player. But his salary in 96 was $130K.

It's possible Rusney puts it together, for us, or for someone else. But unless he's the second coming of something quasi-divine in AAA, or gets some kind of stars-aligning Boston call up, I can't imagine someone picking up that contract "just to see" if he can play at the MLB level.
 

grimshaw

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Now slashing .309/347/.496. His ground ball rate is down 5 points and his fly ball rate is up 7 points. The ISO has more than doubled from .091 to.186 this year.

He's also running more (12 steals in 14 attempts) and only striking out 12% of the time. Though he has only walked 7 times all year

Gotta give him credit that he isn't mailing it in. I don't see what there is to lose to see if he can take some 3b reps during his exile.
 

Cesar Crespo

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His 16 game hitting streak ended the other day but 1 day later he goes 3/4.

.291/.335/.477 in 185 PA vs RHP
.359/.379/.547 in 66 PA vs LHP

He's always destroyed lefties so it's good to see him hitting righties.

His hot streak is now at 30 games, 130 PA. .361/.408/.597 on a .356 BAbip. Coincidentally, all 7 of his HBP came in that 30 game period.

His BAbip for the year is .322 as well so this isn't all luck.
 

Cesar Crespo

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As far as I can tell, he never actually played 3b in Cuba. At least not in the CNS. He played 2nd base in 2010 and 2011.
 

Byrdbrain

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Maybe they don't want to put him there because they have a guy they want to put there who will be coming up from AA any day now?
That's all I got, it would seem to make sense to give him a shot since I don't see much chance of him playing for the Sox in the OF.
 

The Gray Eagle

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According to this page:

http://cuban-play.com/estadisticas/labor-de-por-vida-en-series-nacionales/rusney-castillo-peraza

he played some at third base in 2009 and 2010, in addition to second base. Doesn't say how many games at third, probably very few. And he is short, so scouts probably think he isn't big enough to play every day at third. But he is fast and athletic, seems to have a good arm, and has played the infield before, and even played some games at third at some level.

So I will echo Lose above and ask what the hell do they have to lose by trying him at third in some games to see what he can do? Even if he makes too much money to be brought up this year, there's no reason not to find out if he might provide some RH coverage for 3B next year, when we will presumably blow through the luxury tax threshold anyway.
 

Lose Remerswaal

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Whether or not he's ever played it before, what the hell do we have to lose by trying him there? They keep saying Devers isn't coming up to the bigs this year (don't want to Moncada him) and if you believe that then there's no good reason not to have Rusney at 3B tonight and until they do promote Devers to AAA>
 

paulb0t

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Barring injury to one of the OFers (and continuing Brock Holt DL stint), is versatility/value at 3B the only chance he has to make the club this year? Or, will any of that even matter, since his salary doesn't count against the luxury tax?
 

Cesar Crespo

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They have nothing to lose by trying him there. I just noticed he hadn't actually played there in the CNS even though he was listed as a 3b.
 

E5 Yaz

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Rusney's contract situation explained (again):

Yet the odds that Castillo gets an opportunity this year are remote. The Red Sox outrighted him off their 40-man roster last season, an act that meant that his roughly $10.4 million average annual value does not count against their payroll as calculated for luxury tax purposes.

If the same rules existed now that existed when the Red Sox outrighted Castillo then, he could be a call-up should the need arise: If the team had an injury to one of its outfielders, it would have been able to call up Castillo for a few days, with just a small fraction of his salary counting against the luxury tax threshold, before outrighting him back off the 40-man roster, where his salary no longer counted toward team payroll.
As a result, the contract of a player who gets outrighted off the major league roster now will continue to count toward the payroll as calculated for luxury tax purposes. If the Sox called up Castillo for a day this year, his contract would count toward the luxury tax payroll through its expiration in 3½ years.

Likewise, if a team is interested in trading for Castillo and using him in the big leagues, the Red Sox can’t entertain a deal that would require them to subsidize his contract, since any subsidy would count as part of their payroll if Castillo is on a 40-man roster.
http://www.bostonglobe.com/sports/redsox/2017/06/22/rusney-castillo-reborn-but-also-stuck-pawtucket/WXXV4C6o8xF3h4zCC5q6KL/story.html
 

Cesar Crespo

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I thought he had hamstring issues in the past but I guess not. His issues before were the obliques and shoulder. If that's the case, makes you wonder if his power was sapped and he is finally getting it back?
 

Cesar Crespo

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Since the beginning of May: 69 games, 296 PA, .325/.361/.542 on a .338 BAbip. 21 doubles, 13 HRs, 8bb/39k. He's been hbp 9 times too which is inflating his OBP unless it's a skill of his. For the year, he is now at .314/.350/.507 with 22 doubles, 15 HRs, 11bb/51k.

I wish he wasn't saddled with that contract because I'd love to see him get another chance. When he was signed, he was supposed to hit for some power and given the long hiatus and the injuries, maybe it took awhile to adjust. That and the shoulder injury.
 

moondog80

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There's no bad guy but it does seem like Castillo is a victim here -- he'd definitely be getting another shot if it were based on merit. I wonder if there's a way to change the rule that works for both player and team?
 

Saints Rest

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Seems like this season's success could make him moderately useful trade bait to a team under the cap. If the Sox decide to eat his salary and trade him to another team, and that team puts him on the MLB roster, there is no luxury cap hit for the Sox, is there?
 

Cesar Crespo

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Seems like this season's success could make him moderately useful trade bait to a team under the cap. If the Sox decide to eat his salary and trade him to another team, and that team puts him on the MLB roster, there is no luxury cap hit for the Sox, is there?
Pretty sure there is. Once he hits an MLB roster, what the sox are paying in the trade would go on the books.
 

steveluck7

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As opposed to the current model that allows a rich team to pay for its mistake by stashing an overpaid (yet possibly otherwise deserving of an MLB shot) IFA in the minors.
 

Saints Rest

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It's how you prevent rich teams from just paying for their mistakes to go away under the cap.
As steveluck notes, this doesn't matter to a rich team. It does affect the player who is now stuck "paying" for his contract in a purgatory of minor league ball. And it actually hurts a small-market team who could use a Castillo on their MLB roster.

I stand by my post: Dumb rule.
 

trekfan55

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As steveluck notes, this doesn't matter to a rich team. It does affect the player who is now stuck "paying" for his contract in a purgatory of minor league ball. And it actually hurts a small-market team who could use a Castillo on their MLB roster.

I stand by my post: Dumb rule.
The other side of the coin (and one which greatly favors the players) is MLB contracts are fully guaranteed. While Rusney is in a "purgatory of the minors" he is getting handsomely paid for it and will get his money regardless. In the NFL players who underperform their contracts can and do get cut, saving the team money.

While Rusney would like to receive another chance to play, and some team would like to give it to him, there is no way the Union would allow any contract to be broken. Hell, Arod was willing to take a pay cut to play for the Sox and the Union blocked it way back when.

In a way, it is because of his large contract that the Sox are able to stash him in the minors.