Kevin Goldstein tweeted something interesting yesterday,
"With all these Cubs rookies up, the underrated point is they've found a young, good, every day catcher in Welington Castillo."
As you probably already know, I'm a fan of Castillo. He doesn't have polished receiving or game-calling skills yet and his hit tool is probably going to be average at best. That will likely prevent him from being an elite catcher. But having a catcher who can contribute in all phases is rare.
In my opinion, you want 3 things from a good everyday catcher,
- You want him to be at least an adequate receiver and preferably a good one. You want him to be able to handle the pitching staff.
- You want him to control the running game.
- You want him to make some contribution on offense, preferably some power.
Castillo is working toward becoming an adequate receiver and while it's a small sample size and defensive metrics for catchers are still in the rudimentary stage, Castillo's rating is right around average at -0.2 this season and 0.3 in his short career. He has the talent to become more than adequate, however, provided he can continue to develop at the major league level.
He has thrown out 31% of baserunners, which is above average, but not spectacular. There is no question about Castillo's arm strength and his quick release, though. He has the tools to improve on that already solid rate with more help from his pitching staff.
At the plate, Castillo has worked hard to improve his approach, going from a free swinger to having enough discipline to post a respectable 9% walk rate in his AAA career. But, realistically, Castillo isn't going to be an OBP guy because he probably won't hit for a very high average anyway. What Castillo can contribute is some occasional pop at the bottom of the order. In this season so far, his slugging pct. has been .470 and his ISO is a very respectable .205. You hope he can hit about .260, put up something close to a league average walk rate and hit 15-20 HRs. That's not a star, but it would give the Cubs an above average starter at the position at close to the league minimum with 5 years of cost control remaining.
The Cubs don't have a catcher with that sort of skill set in their minors. They have some interesting bats, such as Justin Marra way down in AZ, plus Neftali Rosario, an intriguing player who has had trouble staying healthy. They also have some catch and throw types like Chadd Krist (Peoria), Rafael Lopez (Daytona), and Micah Gibbs (Daytona). Of those players, I like Lopez's bat the best, but all project as backups at best in the majors right now.
One of the few areas of depth in the 2013 drafts appears to be the high school catching crop. It wouldn't be surprising at all to see the Cubs draft one or two early, but high school catchers don't tend to move very quickly. There's a big learning curve defensively and just like the majors, it isn't easy to find a guy who can contribute on defense while also projecting as someone who can be an asset in your lineup. That's why polished all-around catchers like Matt Weiters and Mike Zunino tend to go extremely high in the draft.
So for now, Cubs fans should be happy they have found a good, young everyday catcher in Welington Castillo with another young catcher, Steve Clevenger, who should complement him well as a backup.