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Monday, December 29, 2014

2015 FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFT SLEEPER: RUSNEY CASTILLO OUTFIELDER BOSTON RED SOX

It used to be about ten years ago or so that the Japanese import was the most coveted major league baseball import after the smashing and instant success of Hideo Nomo with the Los Angeles Dodgers.  Nomo would be joined by some other solid Far East arrivals such as Hideki Matusi, Kasuhiro Sasaki, Hisashi Iwakuma, and of course Masahiro Tanaka as guys who hit the ground running both in real and fantasy baseball.  Those success stories also included some catastrophic busts such as Hideki Irabu and Kas Matsui, so it wasn't all good when it came to the Japanese fraternity.  While the talent from Japan is still very much respected, the recent revolution of Cuban arrivals has completely taken over the international scene in baseball.  The recent arrivals of both pitchers and hitters from our neighbors to the south has been incredible and reads like an All-Star game roster.  Consider some of these names that are already among the biggest starts of the game:  Jose Fernandez, Yasiel Puig, Aroldis Chapman, Yoenis Cespedes, and Jose Abreu.  It is the incredible amount of success that these arrivals have made on the game that have turned any other defection into must-watch news.  Which of course brings is to our latest 2015 Draft Sleeper of Cuban descent, one Rusney Castillo from the Boston Red Sox.  Castillo arrived on the scene in the middle of the 2014 season after inking a free agent deal with the Red Sox and he was able to come up for a cup of coffee in September where he instantly showed off some tremendous natural tools that have many predicting he will be the next star from the country.  So with all that said, let's take another look at Castillo's debut and move ahead in trying to see where all of this will lead in 2015 fantasy baseball.

First let's get to the small sample size of numbers which Castillo put up at the end of 2014.

.333
2 HR
6 RBI
6 R
3 SB in only 36 at-bats

Again very small sample size but right away we can see that Castillo has the running game down pat with the steals and he showed some thump with the two home runs.  It was Castillo's power/speed combination that many compared to Puig that got him noticed in the first place.  Of course we have to remember that like Puig, Castillo is young as he turns only 28 this July and his past level of competition in Cuba leaves a lot to be desired.  However that didn't prevent Puig, Cespedes, and Abreu from instantly tearing up major league pitching upon their debut so we can't judge him too harshly on that anyway.  What we can do is again look at the tools that Castillo brings to be table which is highlighted by his speed among everything else.  Right out of the gate Castillo could steal 30 bases as he is very aggressive on the basepaths and the Red Sox have always preached that part of the game.  What is up for debate is how much power Castillo will hit for as he is not considered to be in Abreu's of Cespedes' class there.  Puig hit only 16 home runs last season and that seems like the most optimistic number to project for Castillo due to his somewhat slight frame.  Castillo doesn't possess natural power and thus has to really get into one to smash one out.  However Fenway Park will help with the maturation there which means the best bet is to expect 10-12 and be happy with anything more. 

As far as the rest of the stats are concerned, Castillo's spot in the lineup is not known at the present time which will determine how many runs and RBI he collects.  Figure on Castillo starting off in the seventh spot which means 80 runs and 70 RBI seem about right to go with the steals.  Also Castillo just finished off hitting a scorching hot .405 in his 10-game Winter League slate with a home run and two steals so he knows how to handle the bat with regard to his batting average.  .300 is very possible given what we have thus far seen. 

When you put it all together, Rusney Castillo is going to be a fiercely fought over draft sleeper this season.  The fact he is Cuban, plays for the Red Sox of all teams, and has power/speed potential is likely to put his draft stock in the pricy range.  That means there will be some bust potential since Castillo is still an unproven player but his tools are too good to think that will completely happen.  We like him very much and would green light a reach here over almost any other sleeper this season.

2015 PROJECTION:  .297 14 HR 73 RBI 86 R 26 SB

 
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