TAMPA, Florida -- After helping the Red Sox to win the Gulf Coast League title in the rookie league finals, Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo will try to reprise that in Double-A ball, as he continues his warm-up tour before his expected major league debut with Boston in the final month of the regular season.
Castillo went 0-for-3 in Monday’s game, but drew a walk with the bases loaded to drive in the go-ahead run, as the Red Sox beat the Yankees 8-1.
Castillo, who signed a seven-year, $72.5 million deal with Boston last month, went 1-for-5 in his first two games in pro baseball. On Sunday, he hit a single and struck out once while playing five innings as the DH. On Monday, he stayed in the game for six innings and had a quiet day.
“I feel OK, I’m looking at pitches and keep improving,” said Castillo, who grounded out to third in the first inning, drew a walk in the second, grounded out to short in the fourth and hit a fly ball to right in the fifth.
“With each at-bat, I’m getting closer to my top level. I’m not trying to guess pitches, just trying to hit anything that comes close to the strike zone.
“Also, I’ve heard about the legendary rivalry between the Red Sox and the Yankees. Although this is rookie ball, actually it’s my first playoff in the U.S., so I pretended it was like a playoff game in Cuba,” Castillo said.
With his first assignment in the books, Castillo will take another step toward the big leagues, as he reports with Double-A Portland. The Sea Dogs begin their best-of-five series against the Binghamton Mets on Wednesday.
“Now it’s time to play in the Double-A playoffs, and once I’m done with that, the team will decide whether I’ll go to Triple-A ball or jump to the big league club. I’m ready for any scenario,” he said.
Castillo has no problem when people compare him to Yasiel Puig or Yoenis Cespedes. Just like his fellow Cuban players, Castillo is a pretty good base runner and can hit with power, but has a slight advantage with the glove over Puig and Cespedes.
“I’ve got a lot of admiration for both Puig and Cespedes. I’ll try to emulate them,” he said. “I try to be aggressive on offense and defense, just like them.
“But right now, I’m still adapting. I’ve heard a lot of advice that might help me getting used to all these things. But I’m also aware that this is a long process.”