Rusney Castillo left his mark in Puerto Rico. (Getty Images)

Rusney Castillo leaves Puerto Rico having made his mark

Rob Bradford
December 27, 2014 - 9:13 am

Rusney Castillo is ready to finally get a break from baseball for a bit. The 27 year old outfielder, who snuck in 10 games with the Red Sox at the end of the 2014 season after signing his seven-year, $72.5 million deal, has seen his run of winter ball participation come to an end. Castillo will spend the remainder of the offseason in the Miami area after playing in 10 games for Alex Cora's Criollos de Caguas team in the Puerto Rico Winter League, leaving the team earlier this week. The stint comes after an eight-game stint in the Arizona Fall League. According to Cora, Castillo didn't leave without making a positive impression. "He'€™s ready to play in the big leagues," the former Red Sox infielder said. "Mentally, we were very impressed with his approach. He didn'€™t try and pull too much. Most of his hits were back up the middle, right-center. Defensively was the part that caught our eye. He did a really good job in center field. He has a feel of where to play guys after that first at-bat. We liked what we saw." Castillo played center field for Criollos de Caguas, hitting leadoff, second and third. The righty hitter got in 37 at-bats, hitting .405 with a home run and two stolen bases. He walked twice and struck out four times. Between the two leagues, Castillo combined to total 78 plate appearances, with his Arizona Fall League experience getting cut short due to a thumb injury. One of the most encouraging aspects of the outfielder's work in Puerto Rico, according to Cora, was the opportunity to refine a leg kick he started picking up toward the conclusion of his stint with the Red Sox last season. "He was working on that new leg kick," said Cora, who said Red Sox executive Allard Baird came down to check in with Castillo about a week ago. "He tried to use it toward the end of the season in the big leagues and sometimes he was caught in between trying to get his foot down. But the more he played, the better he got at it. Hopefully for him with spring training and learning the pitchers and more repetition, he'€™s going to be OK with it. "The report we got that was he was raw baseball-wise. But he'€™s not. The way he talks the game in the dugout. The way he gets details. That really caught my eye."