TCN 2015 Cards Prospect #36: Ronald Castillo

Strong first halves have been scuttled by injuries in each of the last two seasons for the outfielder. 2015 is likely make or break time.

The Cardinal Nation/ Player Profile

Home: Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

2014 rank Pos. DOB Ht. Wt. Bat Thw Signed Round
BOR OF 06,12,92 6-5 198 R R 2009 FA

Selected 2014 stats

Peo 0.259 0.312 347 40 90 24 6 50 23 75 1 0.316 0.307 0.386 0.693
GCL 0.167 0.167 6 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0.228 0.167 0.333 0.500
Tot 0.258   353 40 91 25 6 50 23 75 1   0.304 0.385 0.690

Staff comments (individual rankings in parentheses)

Message board community (NR): Ronald Castillo was not voted into the community’s top 40, or even top 45. Castillo did receive one vote from blingboy at #45, however.

Blingboy mentioned how Castillo is another player signed young in the Dominican, at 17 in 2009. He fears the Cardinals will have put a lot into Castillo’s development only for him to run out of time before he can make it onto the 40-man, a similar situation facing Breyvic Valera this off-season.

UncleDenny also mentioned Castillo as being one of three outfielders, along with C.J. McElroy and Nick Thompson, whom he likes better than Vaughn Bryan. This came up during a discussion about Bryan’s top 10 vote on Baseball Prospectus’ Cardinals prospect list prior to the 2014 season. - Jeremy Byrd

Derek Shore: Castillo missed the TCN top 40 cut last year but cracked it with the 36th rank this year despite being unranked by the community.

Even though Castillo completed his first full-season in professional baseball in 2014, he still dealt with quite a few injuries that nagged on. As a result, his raw tools have yet to be harnessed and translated into game results.

The Cardinals are giving Castillo every opportunity to develop toward his ceiling but the clock is ticking. He has already been a member of the organization for four seasons without reaching High-A level to this point.

Castillo is slowly rising through the system and should be at Palm Beach next season but as a corner outfielder, he has not shown the raw juice in his bat that is needed to project out at the position. That could quickly change with a few adjustments to his approach, however.

I like Castillo and his potential but he is going to have to start putting up results if he wants to advance, especially with a number of higher-ranked corner outfielders at the upper levels ahead of him.

Brian Walton (31): No doubt it was my vote which pulled Castillo into the top 40 for the first time after the outfielder was among our "Best of the Rest" last year.

Castillo offers power potential in a system in which it is sorely lacking. Because of injury, the tall right-handed batter managed only about 350 at-bats this season, but still logged 25 doubles. That total was good for a tie for fourth in the entire Cardinals system.

The organization leader, Stephen Piscotty, had just 32 two-base hits in over 500 at-bats, and the former first-rounder is a consensus top-five prospect in the system. Castillo’s 2014 doubles rate was even higher – a very positive indicator for the future.

Castillo’s career grade remains an “incomplete,” however. His all-star history epitomizes the frustrations – promise demonstrated, but never fully realized.

In both 2013 and 2014, he started fast and was named among his league’s best outfielders in the first half. Yet, injuries almost held Castillo out of participating in the New York-Penn League mid-summer contest last year and he actually missed the Midwest League edition this season.

In 2013, it was shoulder problems that sidelined him at a time he was second in the NYPL batting race. In 2014, a recurring abdominal strain scuttled his progress. As a result, Castillo’s second-half home run and RBI totals were halved. His average dropped from .291 before the break to just .227 after.

The Valera comparison made above is valid in one other aspect as Breyvic was an all-star in those same two leagues one year ahead of Castillo. In other words, if Castillo can remain healthy and productive in 2015 and reach Springfield, he will remain on track to match the progress of a top-20 prospect in this system.

That is a big “if.” Perhaps more so than any other player in the system, Castillo must stay healthy to translate that potential into production in 2015 or be prepared to fall by the wayside. I expect Castillo will either be a top-20 player this time next year or drop off the top 40 entirely. A likely Palm Beach assignment to open the season serves as a reminder that the challenge is steep.

Our 2015 top 40 series continues: To see the entire list of top Cardinals prospects and remaining article schedule, click here. This includes the top 40 countdown and nine in-depth, follow-up articles. Most of the latter are exclusively for members of The Cardinal Nation.

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