28 teams reportedly attended a showcase for Cuban free agent Rusney Castillo late last month and now Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald reports that he’s “moving quickly” toward a decision on where to sign.
George A. King III of the New Yost Post hears from several teams with interest in Castillo that the Phillies are viewed as the favorite. However, there’s no consensus on a front-runner and Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com was told by industry sources that they are not considered a top candidate to sign him. The 27-year-old has had a private workout with Philadelphia, as well as the Yankees, Red Sox, Tigers, and Cubs.
Listed at 5-foot-9 and 185 pounds, Castillo is known for his plus-speed. Most view him as an outfielder, but he also worked out at shortstop during his recent showcase. While he’s not expected to have the upside of Yasiel Puig, there’s speculation that he could receive a contract that rivals the seven-year, $42 million deal that Puig signed with the Dodgers after coming over from Cuba.
The Arizona Fall League competition came to a close on Saturday, concluding with the Peoria Javelinas’ 8-2 win over the Mesa Solar Sox for the championship title. No one stood out more than Braves’ no. 1 prospect Ronald Acuna, who took home honors as the AFL MVP after slashing .325/.414/.639 with a league-leading seven home runs and second-best 1.053 OPS in 83 at-bats.
At just 19 years old, Acuna is the youngest prospect to receive the award. He made his presence felt even before he suited up for the AFL, earning promotions to the Braves’ Double-A Mississippi and Triple-A Gwinnett and batting a remarkable .325/.374/.522 with 21 home runs across three levels in 2017.
Acuna was also a major factor in the Javelinas’ win on Saturday, but he wasn’t the first to make some noise. The Solar Sox got to right-hander T.J. Zeuch in the first inning, leading off with three singles and a run-scoring sac fly to get a 2-0 edge over the Javelinas. It was the only lead they’d get all afternoon and it lasted just two innings. Luis Urias snapped the shutout with a sac fly in the bottom of the second inning, and the Javelinas took the lead with a game-tying RBI single from Acuna and two-run base hit from Braves’ no. 16 prospect Alex Jackson in the third.
From then on, it was smooth sailing for Peoria. Andrew Case, Andres Munoz and Art Warren combined for 3 1/3 scoreless innings in relief, while the offense tacked on another handful of runs with Acuna’s fourth-inning two-RBI single and Michael Chavis’ eighth-inning triple. With runners at the corners and one out, the Solar Sox lifted right-hander Dakota Bacus for fellow righty Nolan Blackwood. Even he was flummoxed by Acuna, however, who grabbed hold of the first pitch he saw and returned another sac fly to center field for the Javelinas’ eighth and final run of the game.
Only 131 days left until Opening Day, folks.