Name: Wilkin Castillo
Born: Bani, Dominican Republic
Weight: 170 lbs
History: Wilkin Castillo was signed out of the Dominican Republic primarily for his ability to control the running game. Shortly after turning 20 years old, Castillo proved that his bat had some life in it as well. He cranked out 23 extra base hits in 263 at bats in his American debut and even managed a couple of hits against Triple-A pitchers.
His offense took off the following season before hitting a snag in 2006, when tough southpaws gave him fits. Then last year, he began to swing well from both sides of the plate. Finishing May with a .316 batting average and hitting .359 in June, Castillo was one of the BayBears' most valuable players, as he played second, third, and shortstop on days in which he did not catch.
The season wore him down, however, as Castillo combined to hit .209 with no homers and just two RBI in 67 Fall and Winter League at bats. That poor showing has done little to diminish his status as both one of the best catcher prospects in the organization and one of the Diamondbacks' prospects closest to major league-ready.
Statistics Courtesy of The Baseball Cube
Batting and Power: Castillo does a phenomenal job of putting the bat on the ball, using a short, level swing. He batted .330 when leading off an inning last season, but profiles even better as a number two hitter, where he can use the bunt and the hit-and-run to get someone with a high on-base percentage around the bases.
The two biggest weaknesses in Castillo's game are a lack of power and an inability to draw a walk. If Castillo ever develops something more than doubles power, it won't occur until he's in his early thirties like a Darrin Fletcher or an A.J. Pierzynski. The lack of walks are an area that Castillo needs to improve on if he ever wants to start at the major league level.
Base Running and Speed: Castillo runs extremely well for a catcher, but a cursory glance at his caught stealing totals highlights the fact that he doesn't get good jumps off pitchers. He isn't too aggressive on the bases or overly cautious, either.
Defense: Farm director A.J. Hinch told us last summer that Castillo had the best catcher's arm in the organization, just ahead of Josh Ford. Ford underwent Tommy John surgery last month, and can therefore no longer be considered in Castillo's league. Wilkin does have a strong arm, but his immaculate footwork and quick release are the primary reasons that he gets the ball to second as quickly as he does.
His other skills as a backstop are solid to above average. Castillo uses good fundamentals when blocking pitches in the dirt, and when one does get away from him, he pounces on it with alacrity. This quickness also helps him field bunts. Castillo's ability to work with pitchers and call a good game gives the organization confidence to use him in the majors this year.
The really unique aspect to Castillo's defense is his versatility. He has played every position on the diamond except pitcher. He's made plenty of errors at these positions, but it's due to inexperience, not lack of athleticism. While Castillo isn't ever likely to play a major league game at shortstop, the fact that he could do so in an emergency adds to his value as the 13th position player on a major league roster.
Major League Clone: Johnny Estrada
Prediction: Castillo compares to Estrada as a switch-hitting catcher, but it's difficult to find a good example of an active major leaguer who's athletic enough and talented enough to play both catcher and the middle infield. His unique versatility and rifle arm will get him to the big leagues, but he may not ever provide enough offense to warrant a starting job.
ETA: Miguel Montero is wearing an electronic bone stimulator to help heal his fractured right index finger. It doesn't appear that he will be healthy by the start of the season, which opens up a roster spot for either Castillo or Robby Hammock. Even if Castillo is left in Triple-A for now, we will see him in a Diamondbacks uniform at some point this year, certainly as a September callup if nothing else.
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