White Sox have solid depth at catcher both in the major leagues and in the minors. How bright is the future behind the plate for this organization?
Since A.J. Pierzynski left the Chicago White Sox after 2012, the ballclub has struggled in terms of production behind the plate. However, it seems as though General Manager Rick Hahn wants to improve upon this weakness. He did just that by signing free agent backstop Welington Castillo to a 2-year deal just a couple of weeks ago. My question is, can they become one of the better catching organizations in the game?
Before we get started, it must be noted that while Castillo has immense power (55 home runs since ’16), he does have a tendency to strike out a lot. Just over the last two seasons, he fanned 218 times in 209 games. That equates to 1.04 strikeouts per game, which is not good by any means.
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Another area where Castillo struggles is versus right-handed pitchers. Even though he may have racked up fourteen of his twenty home runs against them this past season, 70 of Castillo’s 97 strikeouts were as well. To illustrate this better, he hit .344 with a lefty on the mound, however, when he faced a righty (Castillo is right-handed) his average dropped .086, or all the way down to .258.
Keep one thing in mind when you think about the statistics from the aforementioned paragraph. While Castillo numbers may have plummeted against righties, he made 248 of his 341 official at-bats versus them. Anytime a hitter faces one arm side nearly 75 percent of the time (72.7 percent to be exact) there is more opportunity for failure. Therefore his statistics would encompass more data. In other words, Castillo’s numbers against lefties could be a bit jaded.
Now, let’s look at the catcher who is likely to share duties with Castillo, Omar Narvaez. A left-handed bat, Narvaez would give manager Rick Renteria a platoon option if he wanted to go in that direction. If the Sox skipper were to do that, it is likely that Narvaez’s contact rate would go up, considering he fanned 30.2 percent of the time versus lefties (he is a LHB) while only 15.2 percent against righties.
Here is a name to keep in mind for the long-term behind the plate, Zack Collins. The 10th overall pick in the 2016 first-year player draft, Collins is the sixth-ranked backstop in the minors (MLB.com) and could join the Sox in the near future. He is the reason why their future is incredibly bright at the catcher position, considering he could be an above-average hitter at the big league level.
All in all, the Sox have a very good chance to return to one of the better teams in terms of catching once again. While Pierzynski held down that spot for a significant stretch of time, it seems as though Castillo and some of the young backstops are a reason the future looks as bright as it does. It looks as though there is light at the end of the tunnel, Sox fans.