The Dodgers are apparently looking to expand their Cuban contingent, reportedly interested in 26-year-old utility man Rusney Castillo. Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti flew to the Dominican Republic to attend, along with Dodgers scouts, a private workout by Castillo, per Ben Badler of Baseball America.
Castillo defected in December, again per Badler, and was rumored to be represented by Adam Katz of Wasserman Media Group. The right-hander is listed at 5'9", 185 pounds and in addition to playing center field has played second and third base.
"His best tool is his speed, as he’s an above-average runner and one of the better base stealers in Cuba," Badler wrote in December. "More of a doubles hitter than a big home run threat, Castillo puts a charge into the ball with a line-drive righthanded swing, though he can get long to the ball at times and some scouts think he’s prone to chasing pitches off the plate."
Castillo, who turns 27 in June, was left off the Cuban team for the 2013 World Baseball Classic after getting caught trying to defect. Castillo, like Yasiel Puig, was also suspended from playing in Serie Nacional, the top league in the country. As The Havana Times explain, Castillo's (eventual) route to the U.S. is not uncommon:
A pattern has developed especially over the last decade whereby Cuban baseball stars and top prospects attempt to leave the island illegally and are caught and suspended from playing in the Cuban league. With no choice left to them to continue in their profession, they then succeed at a future attempt escaping to a neighboring country.
Here are a few videos of Castillo in action:
Skip ahead to about the 5:40 mark here:
Plus an interview with Castillo after dominating thein Panama in 2011.
In addition to Castillo, there is a showcase for many top international amateur players on Wednesday and Thursday in San Pedro de Macoris, as Badler notes for many of the top Latin American players to be signed once the next international signing period opens on July 2.
In other international scouting news, there will be a similar showcase of talent in Puerto Rico for draft-eligible players from Friday to Saturday at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan, with pro-style workouts and doubleheaders over the weekend between four teams. There were post-draft showcases in Puerto Rico for undrafted players in 2012 and 2013, but this is the first pre-draft showcase held by MLB.