Watching Johnson City, the guys that first jump out are big names Carson Kelly and Victor De Leon (Write-ups on each coming later on!), but the guy who stands out due to his physical stature alone is Ronard Castillo.
The first thing that one notices when looking at Castillo is his height, standing at 6’5 and 200 lbs, Castillo is a big fellow. One would certainly expect someone with that body type to be a power hitting fiend, but that person could not be more wrong. In his professional career, Castillo has a total of two home runs.
A high leg-kick and long swing generate a good amount of raw power, but 5 o’clock power ain’t no friend o’ mine. Two in-game home runs is what it is, and I wondered why he had not been able to hit for power in games yet.
The first time I saw him in-game, it became painfully obvious as to why. When someone calls a hitter’s approach at the plate raw, they typically mean that they struggle to lay off breaking balls early in the count, or they chase bad 0-2 pitches. Castillo redefines the term “raw approach,” as he has never seen a pitch he did not want to try and hit. By my count, over the two games I saw Castillo bat, he watched 4 pitches go by. Castillo works himself into an 0-2 count faster than Billy Hamilton goes from first to second.
In the only at-bat in which he took multiple pitches, Castillo worked himself into a 2-0 count, and managed to scorch a line-drive to left field on a hitter’s pitch.
Castillo really has a nice swing, a really smooth stroke with above-average bat speed that should be able to produce 20-25 home-runs and a .260 batting average. He has some issues with balance at the plate, but they may be because he had to see so many off-speed pitches due to the aforementioned lack of plate discipline.
That is obviously the catch- if the plate discipline does not improve, he will not make it out of A-ball.
When I say that he can hit if he improves his discipline, I do not mean that he has to become Kevin Youkilis to begin to tap into his hitting potential. All he has to do is learn to lay off a few pitches per at-bat, so that he can work himself into fastball counts that he will excel in.
Defensively he is already where he will end up, as left-field seems to be the best option for him in the outfield. As he fills out his 6’5 frame he will become slower and he may even have to move to first-base.
Overall, I see a guy that simply needs to learn the finer aspects of hitting. He certainly has the raw talent, and it will be fun to watch him try and figure it out.
Spencer is an independant scout and writes for a few websites. Be sure to give him a follow on Twitter at @BaseballSpencer