The first article of my series profiling the 2013 Cubs leading up to the regular season will feature a look at the catchers. Last season Geovany Soto was the opening day starter, but he has since been traded to the Rangers. Steve Clevenger was the backup, and right now it looks like he will be starting the season in Triple A. Since there has been a lot of shifting at the catchers position, lets take an early look at who will be behind the plate for the Cubs.
Projected Starter: Wellington Castillo: Castillo is an interesting story as he had a few cups of tea with the major league team in 2010 and 2011 before being called up for an extended period of time in 2012 thanks to a Steve Clevenger injury. While he also backed up Geovany Soto, once Soto was traded, Castillo was made full time starter and never lost grip of it. Although his numbers last season were not overwhelming (.755 OPS), Castillo is only 25 years old and has a lot of room to grow. The strongest facet of his game is his power, and he is eventually projected to hit 20 homeruns in a season, as early as this season. He will be the starter because of the fact that he is the more polished youngster between him and Clevenger, and while his not the type of defensive catcher that Clevenger is, he is a much better hitter and is talented at calling games.
Projected Backup: Dioner Navarro: Another interesting story, Navarro went unheard from for a long period of time. However, he will become a popular name among Cubs fans this year as he is expected to back up Castillo. Despite putting up numbers in 2008 that Mike Piazza put up in T-Ball, he made the All Star game. Consequently, the next season was the last time he has played in over 100 games. That might all change this year. With the lack of better options combined with his experience, Navarro comes into spring training as the heavy favorite for the back up catchers job. Two other things he has going for him is that he is still young (28), and has worked with current Cubs starters Matt Garza and Edwin Jackson during their time with the Rays. All signs point to Navarro, who hit .290 last season, as the backup catcher to start the year, even if he is only going to be on the team for one season.
In the System (Other names to look out for):
Next up in the series I will profile the first basemen. Feel free to leave any comments/suggestions/questions.