With a 63-86 record, the remaining games for the Chicago Cubs do not mean much. The team has been out of the playoff race for some time now, and they have been looking ahead to next season. One guy that has improved throughout the season is catcher Welington Castillo, who is hitting .271/.349/.388 with seven home runs and 30 RBI, after a very slow start to the season. Castillo is making his case to continue to be the catcher for the Cubs as the team tries to improve at the big league level.
Last season, Castillo started 52 games for the Cubs behind the plate. After the Cubs traded Geovany Soto to the Texas Rangers last season, Castillo took over as the everyday catcher. Castillo put up solid numbers in 2012 as he hit .265/.337/.418 with five home runs and 22 RBI. Castillo struggled behind the plate at times in 2012 as he racked up seven errors in limited time. He also seemed to struggle calling the game and communicating with his pitchers. The most important thing for a catcher to do is have that relationship with his pitchers and call a good game. You can live with a catcher who struggles at the plate, if he can be solid defensively. It is a huge weapon for a team if their catcher plays both sides well.
The Cubs do have one of the best minor league systems in all of baseball, but there are not any players at the catcher position that jump off of the page. As a matter of fact, I would say that the weakest position in the minor leagues for Chicago is catcher. Castillo has an opportunity to hold on to this job for the foreseeable future without any competition.
This season, Castillo has improved a ton defensively. He has led the pitching staff to a very respectable season. He simply seems to have better chemistry with the Cubs’ pitching staff this season. He still has 10 errors behind the plate which is concerning, but Castillo has a rocket arm and guns down would-be base stealers regularly.
Back-up catcher Dioner Navarro has been a very pleasant surprise for the Cubs this season. He is hitting .302/.363/.500 with 12 home runs and 31 RBI in a limited role. When receiving an opportunity to play Narvarro has shown fantastic power and a good ability to handle the pitching staff. Navarro and Castillo seem to have a good relationship, and I think Navarro’s veteran presence has been huge for Castillo this season, especially defensively.
The improvement defensively is promising, but the question still remains whether Castillo is the future of the Cubs behind the plate. He is a solid option, but his offensive numbers have not been impressive. Personally, I am not sold on Castillo as the Cubs’ catcher of the future. I hope the Cubs bring back Navarro next season and they continue to split games between him and Castillo, who will still get an opportunity to nail down the position for the foreseeable future. With that being said, the team must build some depth at the catcher position in the minor leagues because Castillo is far from a sure thing. The potential is there for the 26-year-old catcher, but he needs to start putting up the numbers sooner rather than later.