2012 Player Profile: Welington Castillo
Welington Castillo had a solid season both behind and at the plate this season. (Photo by Stephen Green)
2012 Positions Played: C (100%)
2012 Batting (AVG/OBP/SLG): .265/.337/.418 in 190 PA
2012 Wins Above Replacement (Fangraphs): 1.2
2013 Contract Status: Signed (Pre-Arbitration)
Welington Castillo is known for having some impressive tools, including pop in his bat and a cannon arm. Putting the offense and defense together has been the challenge during his developmental path.
And now, eight years after Castillo signed as a 17-year-old in the Dominican Republic, he received high praise for doing just that this season. In late September, Manager Dale Sveum said Castillo “made probably the biggest progress of anyone on the team right now.”
“On the whole, the changes he’s made on his defense, and calling a game and the preparation he’s been going through, his whole attitude has changed dramatically into an everyday catcher’s mindset right now,” Sveum told the media.
Castillo shows off a strong arm to throw out the Astros’ Tyler Greene on Aug. 14.
While the 2013 job is still open—and offseason moves could always change plans—Castillo made a strong case for the starting catcher job this year. Even after a late slump in the power department, his .265/.337/.418 slash line (AVG/OBP/SLG) was more than adequate for the position. Catchers as a whole batted .247/.319/.399 in 2012, as compared to the (non-pitchers) major league rates of .259/.335/.423. No surprise there: Offense is scarce behind the plate outside of a couple superstars. Of catchers that had at least 200 plate appearances, the line was a slight bit better at .253/.326/.412.
Lowering his strikeout rate (26.8%) will be important to Castillo’s long-term success. Strikeouts aren’t all that bad in themselves, but approach is important to getting on and base and seeing good pitches to hit. Castillo had issues chasing pitches low and away from him this year, particularly from lefties. He did, however, walk 8.6 percent of plate appearances, higher than his 7.2 percent career rate in the minors and ranking behind just Luis Valbuena, David DeJesus and Bryan LaHair of active Cubs with at least 150 plate appearances this year.
Although Castillo also had big league stints in 2010 and 2011, he’s still in his first year of major league service time. He heads into next spring having the opportunity to solidify his role on the Cubs for years to come.