The group of catchers for the White Sox this spring were a fun group to watch. The newly acquired Welington Castillo would get his first action as a member of the team, there was a battle for the backup catcher spot — and two prospects in Zack Collins and Seby Zavala would provide us with some excitement as they are two guys who will have the opportunity to win the job in the future. Let’s take a look at how the players in this group performed during Spring Training.
Welington Castillo was signed this past offseason to a two-year deal. He last played for Baltimore and will serve as the primary catcher while the younger prospects develop over the next few years in the minor leagues. Being a veteran of the MLB, Castillo will also help with the development of the young pitchers who are already on the major league roster.
Defensively, Welington Castillo threw out three base runners in eight total steal attempts during Spring Training. At the plate, he got off to a slow start and it took him four games to get his first hit. Once he achieved his first hit, he started heating up and hit for a .278 avg while driving in six runs. Best game: March 4 vs. Padres (2-2, HR, RBI, BB. 2 R).
Omar Narvaez came to Glendale as another player who looked to be in much better shape physically. He also would partake in a battle for the backup catcher spot with Kevan Smith. Defensively, Narvaez threw out two runners in stolen base attempts and committed two errors. He was not perfect by any means defensively, but he did well enough to win the competition.
During Spring training he hit for a .250 average. For his career, he is currently at a .274 mark for batting average so his performance was slightly less than how he usually performs. The fact that Omar Narvaez is younger, a left-handed bat, has been around the team longer, and is better defensively helped him secure the backup catcher spot. Best game: March 19 @ Diamondbacks (1-2, 2B, RBI).
When Zack Collins came to Glendale, he wanted to tweak his swing so there was less of a hitch in it. Because of this, Zack struggled at the plate as he hit for a .182 avg and had more strikeouts than he did hits. His swing does look more smooth and shortened up, so it’s only a matter of time before he starts hitting like he’s known to.
— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) March 13, 2018
Defensively, he seems to be improving on a yearly basis and that’s encouraging because when he was drafted, one of his biggest question marks was his defense. Zack Collins did go deep once this spring for a solo home run and in 11 plate appearances, he drove in a total of two runs. Best game: March 12 @ Mariners (1-4, HR, RBI).
Kevan Smith did everything he could this spring to win the backup catcher spot, but because of the previously mentioned reasons, he was sent down to minor league camp towards the end of Spring Training. He struggled defensively as he allowed 13 stolen bases and only threw out three total base runners.
Offensively, he quietly put together a successful spring. Kevan Smith hit for a .333 average, drove in seven runs, and only struck out once. There were three games this spring where he had two RBI and a walk. He will be starting the year in Charlotte, but he’s a guy that we might see back up with the team at some point this season. Best game: March 20 vs. Texas (2-2, 2 RBI, BB, R).
Seby Zavala has been making a name for himself and is turning into a very intriguing prospect. Zavala was a 12th round draft pick out of San Diego State, but with the way he’s been playing throughout his young career, he’s looking like he will be considered a “steal” when it’s all said and done.
“Oh wow!” is right! pic.twitter.com/danl9wNfrw
— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) March 25, 2018
This was his first Spring Training where he saw extended playing time with the club. He showed good situational hitting in a game against the Rangers as he hit a go-ahead two-run single in the bottom of the eighth-inning. He finished Spring Training with a .250 average in 16 plate appearances and drove in five runs. Seby Zavala will be a name to watch out for this season as he should climb up the prospect rankings. Best game: March 25 vs. Brewers (1-4, HR, 3 RBI, BB, R).