Chicago Cubs 2012 Breakdown: Catcher

The situation behind the plate for the Cubs is one of the more intriguing ones in spring camp this year, simply because it’s where you’ll find one of the few positional battles taking place in camp.

While Geovany Soto returns as starter behind the dish, he’ll come with a new backup, as a pair of youngsters duke it out to become the Cubs’ no. 2 catcher.

Soto heads into another season where he’s looking to rebound. This has become a regular thing for Soto, who seems to alternate between his good and bad years.

After being named National League Rookie of the Year in 2008, Soto followed up with a poor 2009, in which he dealt with plenty of health issues. There were still health problems in 2010, but he returned to that ’08 form before he fell back off in 2011. If the pattern holds, Soto should be able to rebound from his .228 average of a year ago.

Where he’ll really need to improve is in the defensive department. After recording 14 errors in his three years combined, Soto posted 13 for the 2011 season.

Behind Soto, it won’t be Koyie Hill filling in. That in itself should be a big positive. While he managed a pitching staff pretty well, Hill brought absolutely nothing to the table offensively.

Instead, the Cubs will be deciding between one of Welington Castillo and Steve Clevenger, with Jason Jaramillo getting an outside shot. None of the three have much of anything as far as experience goes, with Jaramillo leading the pack there.

The fact that they can both hit is well known. Castillo hit well with Iowa last year, and Clevenger has raked at every level in the minors. But who will win the backup job?

It’s going to take much of the spring to determine that, but early indications are pointing to Clevenger. Many figure Castillo to have more of a future as a Major League catcher, so he might be better playing every day in Iowa. Clevenger can also play the corners a bit, making him more valuable to the big league roster right now.

Though, both could find themselves up before the season is out. Geovany Soto is still a trade candidate, as long as the Cubs are in rebuilding mode, and could find a new home at some point. That is, unless he can display some consistency and perhaps earn a future with the Cubs.

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