This offseason the Cubs were rumored to be in the hunt for an upgrade at catcher. The most prevalent rumor revolved around a Matt Wieters acquisition in some sort of Jeff Samardzija deal. It was a curious storyline to me; Castillo isn’t exactly an All-Star in the making but he provided decent offense last year and has turned himself into a better defensive backstop over the course of the 2013 season.
Originally the carrying tool with Beef was his power as a look into Castillo’s prospect history shows us a catching prospect with a good bat and sloppy defensive skills on the whole. He’s always had a strong arm but his blocking ability was questioned early in his career. My eyes told me that his catching ability improved by a fair margin in 2013 and Harry Pavlidis’ catching numbers do support that idea (at least as far as blocking runs is concerned).
The pitch framing could use some work; red negative numbers seldom mean anything positive. I don’t think he’s a good bet to hit for a lot of power but PECOTA’s projection of 16 homeruns and a .409 SLG (PECOTA is conservative so keep that in mind) are more than enough for me when it comes to a catcher. Castillo isn’t a finished product but I don’t think he’s going to go through a major growth spurt at this point.
In the short term the Cubs signed George Kottaras (Greek Dog of Walks) to play the role of veteran backup. It’s a role that Kottaras should fill ably as a left handed patient hitter who won’t kill you behind the plate in short spurts. I like the signing for 2014.
In terms of the future of the position there just isn’t much there down the line. John wrote this about the long term prospects. I like Wilson Contreras as well; he’s just a long shot to make it to the major leagues at any point in his career.
I think this is one of the few spots where the Cubs short term output looks a lot better than their long term future.