September 10, 2014 at 6:42 AM
PAWTUCKET, R.I. -- Highly-touted Cuban signee Rusney Castillo has been slowly working his way back into form while making his way up Boston’s minor league ranks, and Tuesday evening marked a significant step for the outfielder. Though the results were mixed, the player and his manager were both more focused on the process than the results and were happy with Castillo’s Triple-A debut in Game One the Pawtucket Red Sox's Governors' Cup Finals series against the Durham Bulls, which the PawSox won, 3-2.
Castillo finished the night 1 for 4, with the hit coming on a rocket to the third baseman's right that he was able to knock down, but had no play. In his other three at-bats, he struck out twice on fastballs, once looking and once swinging, and flied out to right in his final plate appearance of the evening.
"[Castillo has] plus hands speed through the zone. He expanded the zone a couple times, but had the well-hit ball to third base," Pawtucket manager Kevin Boles said. "That ball got down the line, it was on him really quick. But he's an athlete, you can tell. There's no doubt about it. He's a fast-twitch body. There's a lot to be interested about there."
"[I] got more comfortable as the game progressed," Castillo said through an interpreter following the game. "[I] was maybe a little over-aggressive early on, and then as [I] entered my third at-bat [I] tried to be not as aggressive."
Castillo wasted little time in trying to steal second base after his hit. It looked like he got a decent jump, and he agreed afterwards, but the catcher made quick, strong throw to gun him down.
"It didn't catch [me] by surprise," he said of the fact that he was thrown out. "That's part of the game, and if [I'd] gotten on again, [I] would have tried to steal again."
And according to Boles, the team would not have discouraged him from doing just that.
"We're letting him play," he said. "He's going to get his at-bats, and we're going to feel him out as far as his positioning, defense, as far as him running the bases. We'd rather him be aggressive instead of playing a tentative game. We're just kind of evaluating at this point."
Castillo appreciates the fact that the team has given him that freedom.
"It gives [me] confidence that the Red Sox are allowing to play [my] game," he said.
Castillo will play the rest of the Governors' Cup Finals with Pawtucket, after which he may get the call up to Boston. The hope is that he can start to post some more impressive-looking results, but for now, his skipper is happy with what he has seen.
"He's looking to impact the baseball, no doubt about it. But it's a first look, and watching him go through his routines today, there's a lot to like here," Boles said. "There's a reason why we signed him, and it's a pretty athletic body there. He's impressive."
Photo credit: Rusney Castillo from MiLB.com
Matt Huegel is managing editor for SoxProspects.com. Follow him on Twitter @MattHuegelSP.