Spring training has officially started today for pitchers and catchers! Since I already previewed the pitching staff, I will preview catchers today since they have just reported.
1. Geovany Soto: Soto will return for his fourth year behind the plate for the Cubs. It was a rough season for Soto last year when he hit just .228. However, he hit 17 home runs which ranked third among catchers. It appears Soto is trying his best to improve to return to his form in 2008 when he batted .285 with 23 homers. During the off season, Soto worked with hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo on his foot work at the plate. Also, the Cubs brass was excited to see Soto lost another 20 pounds and is working very hard to have a great season. With young catchers coming up behind him, Soto will need to have a great season or else he will find himself on the trade block later this summer.
2. Jason Jaramillo: If the two young catchers are not ready at the start of the season, Jaramillo will assume the back up duties. Jaramillo was very solid defensively for the Pittsburgh Pirates in the past three seasons. Also, he provides a left handed bat that the Cubs can throw in the lineup if Soto continues to struggle versus right handed pitchers.
3. Welington Castillo: Castillo, 24, provides great hope for the Cubs if he can fix one thing. His pitch-calling. The youngster provides great power to go along with a strong arm but if he can’t call a good game, he will struggle to find time in the majors. Castillo has seen some time in the majors over the past two season but batted just .242 in 33 plate appearances. If he proves that his pitch-calling has improved, Castillo could find himself as the Cubs starting catcher in the near future.
4.Steve Clevenger: Clevenger has a very good possibility of beating out Castillo and Jaramillo for the back up spot in the majors. Clevenger has a very good arm behind the plate and can throw runners out well. Also, Clevenger has impressed the Cubs brass with his hitting in the minors. He hit .407 in 26 games at Triple-A Iowa after batting .295 in 95 games at Double-A last season.
The Cubs seem to be set at the catcher position.Hopefully the hard work in the off season will pay off for Soto but if he doesn’t, his time on the North Side will come to an end quickly. Fans should be very excited about the future behind the plate for the Cubs. Check back in tomorrow as I will preview first base.