We learned last weekend that the Cubs, White Sox, Braves, and Giants were among the clubs interested in Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo. However, it looks like they are going to have plenty of competition in order to sign him.
Castillo defected from Cuba earlier this year and is known for his plus-speed. Listed at 5-foot-9 and 185 pounds, the 27-year-old hits from the right side of the plate. Per Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com, scouts have compared him to the likes of Jacoby Ellsbury, Kenny Lofton, and Brett Gardner. He was expected to work out at both center field and shortstop today.
Here’s video of Castillo preparing for today’s showcase. It’s mostly boring stuff, but you’ll see that he’s capable of pushing an SUV:
Castillo is represented by Jay Z’s Roc Nation Sports. Because he played five years in Cuba’s top professional league, he will not be subject to MLB’s international spending limit. There’s some thought that he could surface in the majors by the end of this season depending on where he winds up.
Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic reports that the Pirates have decided to convert outfielder JB Shuck into a two-way player. Recent comments relayed from the club’s director of player development, Larry Broadway, indicated that the outfielder would be coached in developing his pitching skills while working at Triple-A Indianapolis.
Per Broadway, the change would be enacted to help the veteran outfielder develop some much-needed versatility in the majors, where he’s only ever been limited to outfield and DH responsibilities. Well, except for the two games in which he pitched an inning of relief: once, against the Nationals in a blowout 11-4 loss in 2016, then in a similarly painful loss to the Diamondbacks this past April. During the latter outing, he finished the game with a 13-pitch ninth inning after allowing just one hit and one walk.
Add to that one minor-league outing in 2012, and the 31-year-old Shuck has pitched just three times over the course of his 12-season career in pro ball. While he has three years of experience on the mound from his college days, he’ll need quite a bit of preparation to handle the kind of workload expected from a two-way outfielder/reliever: 20+ innings pitched over a season and 20+ games played as a designated hitter or position player.
Still, his lack of experience doesn’t seem to faze Broadway, at least not this early in the process. There’s no word yet on how soon Shuck would be expected to debut his new skillset on a major-league level.