Results tagged ‘ Venezuela ’
As big leaguers begin to report to Mesa, Ariz., for the start of Spring Training, we at Vine Line had our eyes on a new farmhand who took the mound for Venezuela in the Caribbean Series. Signed in December, right-hander Yeiper Castillo is a former Red Sox prospect picked out of free agency. He also marks yet another acquisition of a player who underwent arm surgery—on his shoulder in 2011. It’s a minor move, so to speak, but we were eager to take an extended glimpse of him Tuesday on ESPN Deportes.
Castillo went 4.2 innings, allowing two runs on three hits, a walk and eight strikeouts against Puerto Rico. He threw five pitches from a three-quarters arm slot: a 90-91 mph fastball with natural run, an 87-90 mph sinker, a low-80s change, a mid-80s slider and a 78-81 mph curve. Both his change-up and sinker were able to get swings and misses as they ran low and away from lefties, and his 12-to-6 curve did too when located low on two-strike counts. His slider looked like his weakest pitch, though he did use it throughout the game.
Though Castillo threw a lot of strikes (50 of 75 pitches), his command was inconsistent. He sequenced his pitches and had a game plan to work low and away from hitters. When he did, he successfully kept hitters off balance or hitting the ball on the ground. But he also had a habit of missing up over the plate, with one 3-2 fastball being yanked for a home run and others not being taken advantage of because of his change of speeds.
Castillo stands a fairly thick 6-foot-3, though he doesn’t have power stuff. He threw 137 innings in his first season back from the shoulder injury, and he’s picked up another 45 (with an ERA under 3.00) in winter ball. He’ll be 24 this season, and he could be an interesting depth arm if he can improve his command post-surgery.
(Photo by Stephen Green)
Other Prospectus Previews:
Jorge Soler has the unique ability to leave baseball people gushing and speechless at the same time—like how McLeod wrapped up a report on the Cuban with, “Yeah, he’s awesome.” Soler “drips with tools,” similar to first-rounders Albert Almora and Javier Baez. There are several potential pitfalls, but Soler’s assimilation on and off the field has been promising so far.
Both Soler and Gerardo Concepcion were signed in the flurry of get-’em-while-you-can moves before international spending caps hit on July 2. Frandy De La Rosa and Juan Carlos Paniagua were the team’s two big gets afterward, inked for roughly three quarters of the Cubs’ $2.9 million pool. But most international signings are of toolsy 16- and 17-year-olds who won’t head stateside for years—if ever.
In the background, the Cubs are investing heavily in their Latin American infrastructure. Work continues on a new Dominican facility, which will provide more fields, workout space and classrooms. They’ve also returned to Venezuela, in lieu of a second Dominican squad. Both moves should signal to prospects how seriously the Cubs take player development.
Soler is just one of more than 60 players covered in Vine Line’s annual Minor League Prospectus, which hits newsstands in February, with single issues available by calling 800-618-8377. It’s an exhaustive rundown, perfect for Spring Training and beyond.
OF | JORGE SOLER
Born: 2/25/92 in Havana, Cuba
Acquired: 2012 NDFA
Tools: Power, Arm, Speed
2012 STATS (R): .241/.328/.389 (14 G); (LoA): .338/.398/.513 (20)
Baseball people don’t often throw around 80s—as in “elite” on the 20-80 scouting scale—so it shouldn’t be taken lightly when McLeod slaps that grade on Soler’s raw power. Think Giancarlo Stanton in the tape-measure home run department. Soler pairs that with an impressive approach at the plate, which allowed him to excel at low Class-A Peoria. Soler profiles perfectly for right field, where he runs well and has a plus arm. It’s still early, so Cubs brass will hold their breath and hope the skills he’s shown hold up as he faces tougher pitching. Soler will be just 21 this season, but the Cubs aren’t going to be conservative with him—he’ll move as he proves he’s ready.
*Slash line includes AVG/OBP/SLG
Other players featured in this section: Infielder Frandy De La Rosa, outfielder Yasiel Balaguert, and pitchers Juan Carlos Paniagua and Gerardo Concepcion