Castillo ready to make most of opportunity

Welington Castillo is concentrating on improving defense as as the Cubs' No. 1 catcher. Dennis Wierzbicki/US Presswire

MESA, Ariz. -- The Cubs will be counting on catcher Welington Castillo to anchor their pitching staff as he enters his first season as a starter.

The 25-year-old catcher did well as a primary replacement for Geovany Soto after the veteran was traded to Texas last July. Working with the Cubs coaching staff, Castillo is trying to develop the right work patterns to be successful in baseball's most demanding position.

Castillo will be backed up by veteran Dioner Navarro, who at 28 is hardly ready to concede any playing time.

"We don't have any competition," Castillo said. "I do know that this is a hard game. If you fall asleep someone will take your job.

"We talk to each other and we have a good relationship. He told me when we got here ‘ I am here for you,' so let's help each other and work together."

A National League scout likes Castillo's arm and power.

"He has two plus-plus tools," the scout said. "First and foremost he moves well behind the plate and he has a cannon for an arm.

"As a hitter he makes hard contact and has plenty of power. The only thing you aren't sure of when you watch him is how he calls a game. Last fall they had so many below par starters that I could not evaluate his game calling skills."

Castillo has no preconceived ideas when it comes to putting up offensive numbers this season.

"My No. 1 job is to be a good catcher," he said. "The offense is important, but catching the pitchers and calling the right pitches comes first."

Working with catching instructor Mike Borzello has been instrumental in his improvement, according to Castillo.

"He has been really helpful to me," he said. "The nice thing about Mike is he tells me when I am picking things up and he will tell me when I am messing up. We spend a lot of time talking about hitting, catching and everything baseball."

The rap on Castillo when he first got to the majors was that he didn't call the right pitches setting hitters up.

"Honestly they say that about every young catcher who is handling a subpar staff," the scout said. "He will improve with time on the field. Let them get him some better pitchers to catch like they appear to have done this year. He will automatically get better behind the plate."