Deadlocked at 3-3 in the ninth, catcher Welington Castillo delivered for the Cubs belting his second spring homer over the left-center wall.
Castillo’s tie-breaking knock not only ensured the Cubs 7-4 victory over the Reds on Tuesday, but it may have ensured the rising star a spot on the Cubs 40-man roster.
A lifetime .323 hitter in the minor leagues, Castillo entered the last week of spring training as one of two contenders competing for the Cubs backup catcher job - battling 25 year-old Steve Clevenger.
Seeing the majority of playing time as of late, Castillo came into Tuesday’s game as a slight favorite. Hoisting a .303 batting average accompanied with one homerun and three RBIs, Castillo’s late inning round-tripper may have penciled him in on the depth-chart.
Castillo has seen limited big-league action, appearing in only 11 games that warranted 33 at-bats. But, the youngster professes he is big-league ready this year. Putting the proof in the pudding, the journeyman reportedly lost 15 pounds this winter and attests his improved numbers to his off-season regimen.
However, Castillo’s offensive improvements are limited.
Even though he has shown more power this spring, Castillo does not drive the ball well and has poor plate discipline. In his career 673 at-bats, Castillo has drawn only 43 and hit a mere15 homeruns.
While Castillo will never compete for a batting title in the majors, he is very gifted defensively.
The highly touted Cubs’ prospect will provide excellent defense and pitcher management behind the plate. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Castillo developed an excellent reputation with his pitchers during his time with triple-A Iowa where the youngster threw-out 37 percent of runners just last year.
Manager Dale Sveum says the front office is waiting for Thursday to announce ’95 percent’ of their roster news, but it looks as if Castillo will back up Geovany Soto this season.