by Matt Eurch
This season has seen the Cubs make their fair share of big name call-ups, starting with the June call-up of Anthony Rizzo and followed by the July call-ups of Josh Vitters and Brett Jackson. Rizzo came out of the gate strong, living up to the hype that so many had placed on him. Vitters and Jackson have struggled with their call-ups but have recently started to right the ship.
Lost in the whirlwind surrounding the call-ups of those three players, Welington Castillo has been impressive since his return to the big league club at the end of July. Castillo was originally called up from Triple-A Iowa in late April following an injury to Steve Clevenger. Castillo struggled in seven games between late April and early May batting just .185 before suffering a mild MCL sprain in May that forced him to go on the DL.
Castillo came back up to the big league club after the trade deadline helping take a spot that was vacated by the trades of Ryan Dempster, Geovany Soto, and Paul Maholm.
Castillo has been splitting time with fellow rookie catcher Steve Clevenger but in 65 plate appearances since his call-up, Castillo is batting .323 with three homeruns, five doubles, and 11 RBI compared to Clevenger’s 42 plate appearances with a .143 batting average with no homeruns, three doubles, and one RBI during that same stretch.
Castillo still has plenty of work to do at the plate as he will need to become more patient having only accumulated nine walks in 99 total plate appearances this season. Along with patience at the plate, Castillo should be able to lower his strikeout totals, something that was a bit of a concern early in his minor league career but it appears to be something he is rectifying.
Despite becoming more consistent at the plate, Castillo’s biggest attribute is what he brings behind the plate. Castillo is learning on the job on how to become better at calling games and instituting a game plan from behind the plate. Castillo has always been regarded as a top defensive talent and many scouts felt that if he was able to develop his bat, like he appears to be now, that he could develop in to an everyday catcher at the major league level.
In a lineup full of storylines such as the reemergence of Alfonso Soriano, Starlin Castro’s struggles, and the constant spotlight on the other rookies like Rizzo, Vitters, and Jackson, Castillo has quietly become a player the front office can view as a piece for the future. No longer is Geovany Soto holding down the catcher position, giving Castillo the opportunity to use these final weeks to prove he has what it takes to become an everyday catcher in the league. Castillo will not be expected to be a power hitter or middle of the order hitter but he projects to be an above average hitter who will have some pop to his bat and provide excellent defense behind the plate.
Despite being lost in the storylines of this season, Castillo has a great shot to emerge from all of this as one of the more consistent players on the roster both offensively and defensively.