PORTLAND, Maine — Rusney Castillo played a huge factor in the Portland Sea Dogs’ 6-3 win Friday night at Hadlock Field, while also displaying many of the skills the Boston Red Sox coveted when they signed him to a seven-year free-agent contract last month.
The Cuban prospect went 2-for-3 with two runs scored and an RBI, helping the Double-A Sea Dogs take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five Eastern League playoff series with the Binghamton Mets. Castillo reached base three times with a single, a double and a walk.
“It’s way early to make judgments,” Sea Dogs manager Billy McMillon said. “He certainly helped us win the ballgame today. (He) hit the ball hard three times, walked.
“There’s certainly something there, and you can understand the desire to sign him. He’s still kind of getting used to playing ball here in the States, so there might be some hiccups there, but there’s a lot to be encouraged about.”
McMillon isn’t sure of Castillo’s plan for Saturday’s Game 4, calling it “a work in progress.”
Castillo has played two games for Portland, proceeded by two games in the Gulf Coast League. He said through a Spanish translator after Friday’s game that he’s getting more comfortable as the games and at-bats increase.
Castillo likely will join the Red Sox later this month, but right now, he said he’s working hard and focusing on the present. The 27-year-old center fielder likes the playoff atmosphere and is excited to help the Sea Dogs try to win a championship.
Castillo doesn’t know how long his Double-A stay will be. He has been playing more and more innings, and the goal is to play a full nine-inning game, which will help him establish a consistent routine.
But there’s a lot for the Red Sox to be encouraged about with Castillo, even after just two games in Double-A. Castillo has great speed on the basebaths, a good eye at the plate and the ability to hit the ball to all fields. The majority of the pitches he saw Friday were balls, and many didn’t even come close to the strike zone. Opponents know Castillo will capitalize on bad pitches, and major league pitchers could learn that soon enough.
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Photo via Twitter/@PortlandSeaDogs