Cubs Send Lendy Castillo Outright to Iowa
The Cubs have sent RHP Lendy Castillo outright to AAA Iowa. Castillo was Designated for Assignment on January 26th when RHP Carlos Villanueva (MLB Article XX-B free-agent signed by the Cubs last month) was added to the 40-man roster.
As most of you know, Castillo was selected by the Cubs off the reserve list of the Phillies AAA Lehigh Valley affiliate in the Major League Phase of the December 2011 Rule 5 Draft. He was signed out of the Dominican Republic by Philadelphia as a 17-year old shortstop in December 2006, but was converted to pitcher in 2010 after hitting a combined 239/287/313 (with 23 SB) in 132 games in the DSL and GCL 2007-09. So when the Cubs acquired him, Castillo had been a pitcher for only two years, and had never pitched higher than Lo-A (equivalent to Peoria or Kane County).
In order to fulfill Rule 5 obligations, Castillo needed to spend the entire 2012 season on the Cubs 40-man roster and/or 60-day DL, with at least 90 days spent on the Cubs MLB Active List (25-man roster). And he just barely made it, too, spending a total of 96 days on the Cubs MLB Active List after being placed on the 15-day DL with a "groin strain" in May. But placing Castillo on the DL allowed the Cubs to send the young RHP on a minor league rehab assignment for 30 days in July, which was spent first in Mesa with the AZL Cubs, and then later at Daytona (which is where he should have been all year) and AA Tennessee. He pitched a total of 20 minor league innings in 14 games at the three stops, allowing just three runs (two ER) on 13 hits (no HR) and 6/22 BB/K, with a sparkling 0.90 ERA and 0.95 WHIP. However, he was cuffed around in twelve games in the Dominican Winter League (DWL) post-2012, allowing 15 hits and 10 runs (7 ER) in 7.1 IP. (The DWL is approximately equivalent to AA).
It is not unusual for clubs to use the Disabled List to try and manipulate the MLB rules to get a Rule 5 player through a season with minimum MLB exposure, placing the player on the DL with some vague soft-tissue injury that can't be medically proven (or disproven), especially if the Rule 5 player is young and not ready for the big leagues (as was the case with Lendy Castillo). And by placing the player on the DL and leaving him there for a while, the club can eventually get the player 20 or 30 days of minor league time during the course of the player's "Rule 5 season" by way of a minor league rehab assignment (up to 20 days for a position player and up to 30 days for a pitcher). But even with the 14 minor league games (20.0 IP) while on the 30-day minor league rehab assignment and another 13 games (16.0 IP) while performing occasional mop-up duty at the big league level when he was on the Cubs MLB Active List (25-man roster), 2012 would probably have to be considered essentially a "lost season" in terms of development for Lendy, and now he will have an opportunity to get regular work at either Tennessee or Daytona in 2013 (depending upon where he is assigned at the end of Minor League Camp).
Castillo is just 23 years old (he will be 24 in April), he's athletic, he throws hard, and and he has been pitching only three years, so it's not like he's some 4-A retread. (Baseball America recently ranked Castillo as the Cubs #28 prospect). If he is not added back to an MLB 40-man roster in the meantime, Castillo will be a Six-Year Minor League Free-Agent after the 2014 season.
The Cubs made another Rule 5 selection in the Major League Phase of the December 2012 Rule 5 Draft, this time drafting RHP Hector Rondon off the reserve list of the Cleveland Indians AAA Columbus affiliate. The 24-year old Rondon was a former Indians Top 10 Prospect who missed much of the past three seasons while recovering from TJS. However, he pitched well as a set-up man for Caracas in the Venezulan Winter League (VWL) post-2012, at least proving he was (finally) healthy. (He pitched in more games in the VWL post-2012 than he did in the minor leagues over three previous seasons combined).
The thing is, unlike Lendy Castillo, Rondon has been outrighted previously in his career, and so he can elect free-agency if he is outrighted to the minors. And he is also out of minor league options, so even if the Cubs can secure waivers and even if the Indians opt not to reclaim him, he can't be optioned to the minors, and if he's outrighted (either by virtue of being re-claimed by Cleveland or outrighted by the Cubs), he can refuse the assignment and elect free-agency. So it's probably pretty much "Wrigley Field or Bust" for Rondon in 2013. He either makes the Cubs Opening Day 25-man roster (or starts the season on the 15-day or 60-day DL), or he's probably gone. In that sense, the Rondon Rule 5 selection was basically a glorified waiver claim of a player who is out of minor league options, with immediate results required for it to pay off.
Whatever ends up happening, Rondon (as a Rule 5 Player) can be traded at any time, but he cannot be placed on Outright Waivers until 25 days prior to MLB Opening Day, and he cannot be re-claimed by the Indians, outrighted by the Cubs, or released any earlier than 20 days prior to MLB Opening Day.
The Cubs will have to drop another player from the MLB 40-man roster whenever Scott Hairston is added. Like Carlos Villanueva, Hairston was an MLB Article XX-B FA, and thus the Cubs do not have to add him to the 40 until the contract is filed with the MLB Office. And the Cubs have up to 20 days to file the contract after Hairston signs on the line which is dotted. So depending on when Hairston actually signed, it's very possible that the Cubs will be able to wait to add Hairston to the 40-man roster until after the start of Spring Training, and then place either Arodys Vizcaino orScott Baker (both TJS rehab) on the 60-day DL at the same time.
Another possibility would be to try and outright 3B Ian Stewart to the minors, like the Cubs did with Manny Corpas and Blake DeWitt this time last year. Stewart was non-tendered on November 30th and then re-signed with the Cubs in December, getting a non-guaranteed 2013 major league contract with a $2M salary and another $500K in potential performance bonuses. If he were to be placed on Outright Waivers and waivers are secured, Stewart could be outrighted to the minors (and removed from the 40-man roster), although he would still be at Spring Training (as an NRI) with the exact same salary and opportunity to make the Cubs MLB Opening Day 25-man roster as he had when he was on the 40-man roster. Although Stewart could elect free-agency if outrighted (he has more than three years of MLB Service Time), it is unlikely that he would opt out since he would have gone unclaimned off waivers, and thus he (and his agent) would know that no other club was interested in him enough to make a claim (at least for that salary and a spot on the claiming club's MLB 40-man roster).
Manny Rondon faced 13 batters ... and got 10 to K. Not a bad day's work.
With several other Cubs hitters bailing out on curves today I think overall it wasn't being seen well. It for sure looked silly but a good breaking pitch coming at you and then breaking down isn't the easiest thing to see and has made many hitters look silly. Also Soler should have more walks this year but for quite a few called strikes that were actual balls and even the called strike he bailed on was borderline.
it's not like we're talking about a guy who's never had issues with pitch selection and seeing the ball over here. we're talking about a guy who has some rather legendary swing-and-misses at breaking stuff who's been exploited low. going forward it's worth paying attention to seeing if he can be exploited inside, too. he seriously bailed out of the box on a called strike. sure it was a good curve, but he obviously didn't see that well at all.
It would seem like he is figuring it out now and it's really coming together. Really happy for him. Joe was really protecting him from the 3rd time through the order, but as you allude to, he is earning trust to go deeper.
Wondering if has potential to become a #3 pitcher? His current stats certainly support it.
That doesn't count b/c CRUNCH didn't see it on his 60" HDTV 5 times in replay.
I have seen many players "bail out" when the ball looked like it was gonna hit them.
Especially with the advent of the splitter and pitchers that can really get the ball to dance. Marmol, Sutter, Pedro Martinez, Curt Schilling, Derek Lowe, Smoltz, Arrietta...
These guys have made the best bail out only for the ball to come over the plate and be called a strike.
No shame in that. The same way players whiff hard enough to cause them to drill a hole in the ground from spinning.
a 60" TV with slow-motion replay and multiple looks on that replay helps...a lot...
it's one thing to shy away like he did the 2nd time, it's another to bail out of the box on a called strike. that happened in the 1st one he pulled away from. he misjudged that one by a foot or so...
Good Hendricks sure is fun to watch. He was hitting all his corners today and the Phillies couldn't do anything with his changeup.
Bryant and I believe Zobrist both did that too.
Soler BB acumen and plate awareness is excellent. Not unusual for even the best players to react as if they were about to hit them, "even though they weren't that close" from your vantage point sitting on your deck, or wherever.
soler vs inside breaking balls is scary.
he's had 2 inside curve balls today where he reacted as if they were about to hit him even though they weren't that close...one he bailed out of the box on, it was a called strike.
j.urias optioned back to AAA...guess we wont be seeing him in the LAD series.
so is him actually getting 2 hits in a game (2 doubles!)...first time he's even been on base 2 times in a game since 9 games ago on his 3/4, 1bb day.
im ready for him to at least look like a 2-slot hitter since he's gonna be slotted there no matter what he does.
That Heyward move to avoid Bryant's ball hit at him was a thing of beauty too.
9 pitches in and this game already rules.
HR, double...bryant's turn (who came out to a Kris Kross song for some horrible, horrible reason).
...2 run inning...zoobrest hitting streak at 14.
First time I saw Herrera was yesterday. He took like 100 pitches, fouled off a ton off Lester.
Very nice young player and perfect leadoff guy.
Obviously not Phil. But he mentioned this on Wednesday.
"Dominican Summer League (DSL) Opening Day is Saturday June 4th, so probably about 8-10 pitchers and position players presently at EXST in Mesa will be sent to the Cubs Dominican Academy (probably sometime this week) and be assigned to either DSL Cubs #1 or DSL Cubs #2."
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