Thursday, November 20, 2014
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Phillies schedule private workout with Cuban outfield prospect

It is not surprising to see the Phillies, a team flush with money but no substantial minor-league talent, emerge as suitors for Rusney Castillo. The team will hold a private workout Tuesday with Castillo, a 27-year-old Cuban outfield prospect, according to a source.

Phillies schedule private workout with Cuban outfield prospect

(H. Darr Beiser/USA Today Sports file photo)
(H. Darr Beiser/USA Today Sports file photo)

NEW YORK — Phillies officials do not believe a long-term rebuilding process is necessary for a team hurtling toward another baseball-less October, but few methods exist to inject young talent. A trade is one. The amateur draft remains the most crucial. The international market is another avenue, although it carries the most risk.

That is why it is not surprising to see the Phillies, a team flush with money but no substantial minor-league talent, emerge as suitors for Rusney Castillo. The team will hold a private workout Tuesday with Castillo, a 27-year-old Cuban outfield prospect, according to a source.

Baseball America first reported the arrangement.

Castillo, who profiles as a center fielder, held a showcase Saturday in Miami for teams. There were reportedly representatives from 28 teams in attendance. Castillo's agents, Jay Z's Roc Nation Sports, arranged the event.

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The influx of Cuban talent — Yeonis Cespedes, Yasiel Puig and Aroldis Chapman, to name a few — has spiked interest in the area. Cuban free agents are not subject to Major League Baseball's spending restrictions, and that is what makes them all the more attractive.

The Red Sox and Yankees are expected to bid high for Castillo, Baseball America reported. Castillo should sign before the season ends. He is 5 foot 9 and 205 pounds. Little intelligence is available; Castillo defected last December.

The connection between the Phillies and Castillo is logical. They are bearish on Ben Revere's future as an everyday player, hence more at bats for Grady Sizemore. The organization's top outfield prospect is Roman Quinn, who just converted to center at single-A Clearwater and is less than a year removed from rupturing his Achilles tendon.

The outfield could be further depleted in the coming days if Marlon Byrd is dealt to a contender. Domonic Brown, one year after a breakout season, is among the game's worst everyday players.

The Phillies have not been shy to explore Cuban talent in recent years. They, of course, signed righthander Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez to an amended three-year, $12 million deal last August. (The original guarantee was for $48 million.) They held a session with Jose Abreu, the Chicago White Sox rookie slugger, and asked him to take grounders at third base. First base, Abreu's natural position, was blocked by Ryan Howard. Abreu was not adept enough to handle third, so the Phillies passed.

Castillo, though, could offer an immediate upgrade at a position of need.


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