CLEARWATER, Fla. — The Phillies do not have a Rule 5 player in camp for the first time since 2005, but they do have a vested interest in the process.
Lendy Castillo, a 22-year-old righthander who pitched at single-A Lakewood in 2011, was taken in the draft by the Chicago Cubs. And he's made a solid impression in Cactus League play.
In six outings, Castillo has pitched seven innings and allowed two runs (one earned) on two hits. He's struck out eight and walked four.
He was a long shot to make the team before spring training, simply because he's never pitched above single A. But the Cubs have an unsettled bullpen and could afford to carry someone like Castillo, who has such high upside.
"His makeup was OK, his stuff was obviously good enough to give it a shot and give it a look," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said last week. "He's doing well, but I think his preparation and his makeup and the way he's handled himself on the mound is a little more important for a Rule 5 kid than just their stuff alone.
"He's been able to throw strikes. His poise on the mound and the way he handles PFPs [pitchers' fielding practice] and athleticism and competitiveness has been far and above a lot of other Rule 5 guys I've been around over the years."
The Phillies left Castillo unprotected because they didn't see any teams taking a chance on Castillo, who became a pitcher only two years ago. His first three years in the Phillies organization were spent as a shortstop.
But he hit 96 m.p.h. on the gun and that will always entice baseball people, no matter how raw it is. At Lakewood last season, he posted a 2.54 ERA in 46 innings with 46 strikeouts and 16 walks.
Even if he makes the Cubs roster, he must spend the entire season on the 25-man roster to permanently become Chicago property. If he doesn't, the Cubs must offer him back to the Phillies for $25,000.
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