KANSAS CITY -- The Royals added infield depth to the upper levels of their farm system on Thursday, announcing they agreed to terms with free agent Minor League infielder Ivan Castillo.
Castillo, 26, spent most of 2021 at the Padres’ Triple-A affiliate, posting a .693 OPS in 113 games with 12 stolen bases. He plays mostly second base but showed capable defensive skills at shortstop and third base in '21, and he has a small sample size of experience in the outfield, too.
Castillo was signed out of the Dominican Republic by Cleveland in 2011 and was selected by the Blue Jays in the 2017 Rule 5 Draft. In 2018, he signed a Minor League deal with the Padres and proceeded to claim the Texas League batting championship in 2019 with Double-A Amarillo after hitting a career-best .313 in 104 games. Castillo projects as a gap-to-gap hitter and makes good contact, although his strikeouts (76) increased this year without a big jump in walks.
Castillo made his Major League debut on May 14 and registered one hit and one RBI in three at-bats. He was placed on waivers at the end of the season, elected free agency in early November and is currently playing Winter Ball in the Dominican for Leones del Escogido, hitting .217 with a .308 on-base percentage in 14 games.
Teams cannot make any moves related to their big league rosters during the current lockout, including having contact with or signing new players. But clubs are still able to sign players to Minor League contracts, which the Royals will continue to do throughout the winter to add depth pieces where there is a fit.
Kansas City lost four pitchers in the Minor League Rule 5 Draft on Wednesday: right-hander and local product Grant Gavin (Padres), lefty and former 10th-round pick Austin Lambright (Red Sox), lefty Robert Garcia (Marlins) and lefty Luis De Avila (Braves). Because of those losses, Minor League pitching depth could be a target over the next few months before the Royals can make moves again at the big league level.