Sep 15, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Chicago Cubs catcher Welington Castillo (53) celebrates at the dugout after hitting a two run home run against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the seventh inning at PNC Park. The Pittsburgh Pirates won 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Cubs' Welington Castillo has emerged as a top NL catcher

Unless you live in the vicinity of Chicago, you probably don’t know who Welington Castillo. Even then, you still may not recognize the name.

Castillo just finished his second full season with the Chicago Cubs, serving as the team’s primary catcher for the duration of the 2013 campaign. During that time, he answered many critics by stellar play behind the plate and an above-average bat – all at the low cost of $503,000.

The 26-year old Castillo contributed eight home runs and drove in 32, while posting a respectable .274 average out of a spot that had practically bled offense for the Cubs in recent years.

He threw out the sixth-best percentage of base runners amongst National League catchers and also had the seventh-best fielding percentage. These may not sound like astounding numbers, but the work of Castillo is evident in the noted improvement of the Cubs starting rotation.

Left-hander Travis Wood reached the 200-inning mark for the first time in his big league career, just over a year removed from trying to sort out his mechanics in the minor leagues. An array of mix-and-match arms, including Scott Feldman, Jake Arrieta and Chris Rusin, performed above expectations, giving fans on the North Side hope for the years to come.

Although staff ace Jeff Samardzija struggled in terms of his earned run average, he set a career high for both innings pitched (213.2) and strikeouts (214).

With the Cubs linked to free agent catchers such as Brian McCann and Jarrod Saltalamacchia, the team needs to stop and look at the talent they have behind the plate already. Castillo is the real deal.

Tags: Chicago Cubs MLB Welington Castillo

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