The Cubs Storylines of the Spring series continues with a look at the catchers in big league camp.
While Miguel Montero and David Ross get to know the pitching staff, the two biggest storylines to follow when it comes to the Cubs catchers this spring are health and Welington Castillo.
Welington Castillo is on the trade block and could get moved at any time. Several teams are reportedly interested in Castillo, most notably the Phillies, and if Theo Epstein or Jed Hoyer finds the right deal for Castillo he will be traded.
The front office rolled the dice with two veteran catchers that bring a lot to the position defensively and into the clubhouse. But the key is keeping Montero and Ross healthy and on the field because both dealt with injuries last season. Once Castillo is traded, Taylor Teagarden and Rafael Lopez move up a spot on the organizational depth chart and neither catcher is quite Montero or Ross behind the plate.
The Cubs have six catchers in camp in Miguel Montero, David Ross, Welington Castillo, Taylor Teagarden, Rafael Lopez and Kyle Schwarber. And four of the six will garner the most attention of the group.
Welington Castillo avoided the barrage of questions from the media by not attending last month’s convention. But he will be the focus of a lot of attention until the first full squad workout of the spring. The front office has not ruled out starting the season with three catchers on the active roster and currently views Castillo as insurance in case Miguel Montero or David Ross gets hurt this spring. Well at least that is what Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer are saying publicly.
Welington Castillo has minimal experience at first base. So the longer he’s in Cubs camp the odds improve Joe Maddon could give him some time at the position during Cactus League games.
While reports suggested he could be traded before Spring Training began, Welington Castillo is still on the roster and has started catching bullpen sessions along with Miguel Montero, David Ross, Taylor Teagarden, Rafael Lopez and Kyle Schwarber.
Welington Castillo is out of minor league options. Unless a team steps up and gives the Cubs what the front office is looking for in return for Castillo, he will begin the season with the Cubs as awkward as it may be for the Cubs’ former everyday catcher.
Miguel Montero and David Ross
It is important for the Cubs to get off to a good start this year and in order to do so Miguel Montero and David Ross must get on the same page with the pitching staff, Chris Bosio and Joe Maddon this spring. The duo has very little combined experience with the 33 pitchers that will be in camp. Ross knows Jon Lester, Felix Doubront and Drake Britton while Montero is limited to Edwin Jackson. Both veteran catchers have an excellent reputation as receivers, but building those relationships early in Spring Training will be imperative to the Cubs success in April. If either Montero or Ross misses significant time, the lack of familiarity with the pitching staff could carry into the season.
The Cubs top pick from last June’s Draft is in big league camp and will benefit from working with Mike Borzello, Henry Blanco and Joe Maddon as well as David Ross and Miguel Montero before he’s reassigned to minor league camp.
Kyle Schwarber gets plus marks for his makeup and work ethic and wants to catch. The Cubs are going to give him a chance to stick at catcher and his first full year in pro ball could start with Double-A Tennessee but he’s likely headed to High-A Myrtle Beach to open the season. More time with Mark Johnson, the Pelicans new manager, would also benefit Schwarber as he works to catch his defense up to his offense.
2015 Cubs Spring Training Previews
- Cubs Baseball Begins, Pitchers and Catchers Report to Spring Training
- Starting Pitchers
- Relief Pitchers
- First Base
Cubs Storylines of the Spring
The first full week of camp should be very interesting as pitchers and catchers continue to get their work in while waiting for the position players to report Tuesday. The first full squad workout of the spring is Wednesday. Lineups and spring rotations will be two of the topics of conversation as the Cubs prepare for the Cactus League openers on March 5. Up next in the Storylines of the Spring reports, the infield.