When the news broke that the White Sox had signed veteran catcher Welington Castillo to a two-year contract with an option for a third year, I breathed a sigh of relief for Zack Collins. It’s no secret that Collins is one of the best catching prospects in the game, and with that much excitement surrounding such a young player it’s also no secret that Sox fans want to see him as soon as possible.
Having Castillo on the roster for the next two years gives the White Sox time to let Collins grow properly. We have been given no reason to believe that the front office would pull the trigger and call a player up too soon and I’m hoping that they will treat Collins just like any other prospect.
Collins, a machine of a hitter in college, has struggled at the plate thus far in his professional career. Through two seasons of minor league ball he has a .229 batting average with a .378 on-base percentage and a .445 slugging percentage. To go along with that he does have 27 home runs and 76 RBI through 162 career games in the minors, which would actually be pretty solid production over a full season. Still, not quite the numbers the Sox would like to see him putting up.
Collins split time at Single-A advanced Winston-Salem and Double-A Birmingham in 2017 and posted a .224/.370/.445 slash line between the two. Despite his struggles at the plate, the 22-year-old catcher is doing pretty well from behind it. Collins threw out 39 percent of attempted base stealers in the 2017 season, which is a pretty impressive stat at that level.
Collins may not be ready to don a White Sox jersey for another two years minimum at this rate, and the White Sox know this. That’s where the Castillo signing comes into play. Castillo put up a hefty .490 slugging percentage in 96 games for the Orioles in 2017. Castillo collected 20 home runs, 53 RBI, and 44 runs scored along the way. On top of that, Castillo threw out a Major League-leading 49 percent of would-be base stealers in 2017. Zero stolen bases of his own, though, and only four in his eight-year career – clearly an aspect of his game he could really brush up on.
The White Sox have been hurting for the right combination of experience and production behind the plate for a handful of years now and Castillo seems to be the kind of guy who can provide both. While this certainly isn’t a “win now” type of move, having Castillo on the team will do more good than harm. The guy has been behind the plate for a plethora of talented pitchers – some elite (Jake Arrieta, Felix Hernandez, Zack Greinke) – and knows how to call a good game. Pitchers like Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, and Carson Fulmer will strongly benefit from having Castillo behind the plate for the next two seasons.
The other possibility is that Welington Castillo outperforms what the White Sox expected from him and they flip him for something else when the right deal comes along. Not an entirely unheard of strategy with a deal like this, but not the most likely thing to happen either. The pitchers and catchers the Sox have on the roster right now could all learn a thing or two from Castillo, and Collins gets his time to develop in the minors. Things are looking… well, pretty okay for the time being.