Tuesday marked Game One of the 2014 Governors’ Cup at McCoy Stadium, but more importantly for Red Sox fans it marked the Triple-A debut of Rusney Castillo. The 27 year old outfielder has come with plenty of hype, even though many aren’t quite sure what to expect from the Cuban. Though not a tall guy, reports indicate that he is fully capable of playing centerfield in the big leagues right now with the ability to have gap power and good speed. If this is the case, the organization is looking not only at their centerfielder of the future, but a potential leadoff or number two hitter.
Though he has already played in some games within the organization, this will be the highest level of baseball he has competed in. Not to mention it comes in the most crucial series the PawSox have played in all season.
For the third straight season (second against the Durham Bulls) the Pawtucket Red Sox will play in the Governors’ Cup Finals, though they will be without one of their star pitchers Matt Barnes. Barnes was called up to Boston for the first time on Monday after a great outing in the semi-finals. Edwin Escobar, coming off a brilliant semi-final effort as well, took the ball in game one against hard throwing Rays prospect Enny Romero.
Behind another strong outing from Escobar, Pawtucket won 3-2 to take the lead in this best of five series.
Pawtucket struck quickly in the first when Ivan De Jesus Jr. singled to right and eventually scored on an RBI single from Travis Shaw. They added to their lead in the second after Blake Swihart doubled and scored on an opposite field single from Deven Marrero to make it 2-0 PawSox.
Durham responded with two in the third on a two out, two run single by Mike Mahtook but Pawtucket quickly regained the lead on an 11 pitch sacrifice fly from Garin Cecchini.
The early theme for the PawSox offense was working counts as they were able to chase Romero from the game by making him throw 77 pitches through three innings.
Doug Mathis was called upon to silence the Pawtucket bats, and he did a good job of that in the middle innings. However Escobar was able to the same to the Bulls’ bats, keeping them off balance and limiting chances. He had to give way to the bullpen in the eighth inning, but they were able to close it out and secure the 3-2 PawSox win.
Escobar picked up the win, going seven innings giving up two runs on six hits and five strikeouts. For the second consecutive postseason start he didn’t walk a batter. Hembree earned a four out save, escaping trouble in the eighth and ninth innings. This included getting out of a bases loaded, one out jam to close the game.
“He was impressive and had a good mix,” Manager Kevin Boles said of his starter. “The tempo with him and Swihart was good and he did a good job keeping the defense involved.”
Castillo ended his debut going 1-4 with two strikeouts. His first Triple-A hit came on a sharp single past the third baseman, however he was quickly erased on a caught stealing. Both strikeouts came on 96 mph fastballs, one looking and one swinging. Though it’s tough to judge on just one game, his swing has some resemblance to fellow Cuban Yasiel Puig.
“He expanded the zone a couple of times but he’s an athlete and you can tell,” Boles said. “It stands out. We’re going let him play his game and be himself. There’s a lot to like.”
“I felt good,” Castillo said through his translator. “It was nice to pull out the win in a tight game but I felt more comfortable as the game progressed. I may have been a little over aggressive at first but I tried to be more patient after my third at bat.”
Pawtucket looks to take a commanding 2-0 series lead tomorrow night when Brian Johnson makes his Triple-A debut against Alex Colome.