Phillies Notes: Phillies will work out Cuban outfield prospect

Outfielder Rusney Castillo , in action during the Pan-Am Games, could be wooed by several MLB teams. Getty
Outfielder Rusney Castillo , in action during the Pan-Am Games, could be wooed by several MLB teams. Getty
Posted: July 30, 2014

NEW YORK - Phillies officials do not believe a long-term rebuilding process is necessary for a team hurtling toward another silent 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.

Castillo, who projects as a centerfielder, held a showcase for teams Saturday in Miami. There were representatives from 28 teams in attendance, according to Baseball America. Castillo's agents, Jay Z's Roc Nation Sports, arranged the event.

The influx of Cuban talent - Yoenis Cespedes, Yasiel Puig and Aroldis Chapman, to name a few - spiked interest in the area. Cuban free agents are not subject to Major League Baseball's international spending restrictions, and that is what makes them 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 and established residency in Haiti.

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 from shortstop to center field 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 explored Cuban talent in recent years. They 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 did not bid on him.

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

Extra bases

Grady Sizemore did not start for the second straight game. Byrd's shoulder struck Sizemore in the chest Saturday during an outfield collision. "He's fine," Sandberg said of Sizemore. "He's available." Sizemore started 11 of his first 12 games with the Phillies before this two-game respite. . . . The Phillies released Tony Gwynn Jr. The outfielder was designated for assignment July 21.

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