Welington Andrés Castillo
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 1", Weight 220 lb.
Welington Castillo is a veteran catcher of ten big league seasons.
Castillo was signed by scout Jose Serra for the Chicago Cubs in December 2004. He made his professional debut with the 2005 DSL Cubs, hitting .289/.353/.373 as a DH. He came stateside in 2006, playing for the AZL Cubs (seven games) and Boise Hawks (three games), hitting .188 while missing over two months with a sprained left ankle. In 2007, he hit .271/.334/.423 with 11 home runs and 44 RBI for the Peoria Chiefs. He had 15 errors in his first regular action as a fielder, the highest total by a backstop in the Midwest League. He split 2008 between the Daytona Cubs (.273/.299/.339 in 33 games), Tennessee Smokies (.298/.362/.414 in 57 games) and Iowa Cubs (1 for 5 in his lone game), hitting .287 with four home runs in 91 games. In the 2008 Futures Game, Welington started at catcher for the World team. He struck out against Trevor Cahill in the second and Will Inman in the fifth before being replaced by Jesus Montero. Baseball America named him Chicago's 5th best prospect going into 2009. With the Smokies again in 2009, Castillo's average dropped to .232/.275/.386 with only 15 walks in 95 games, hitting 11 home runs with 39 RBI. He turned eight double plays to lead Southern League catchers. He was added to Chicago's 40-man roster in November.
Castillo began 2010 with the Iowa Cubs and hit .251/.317/.507 with 13 homers and 57 RBI, both new career highs, while throwing out 40% of base-stealers. He was called up when Geovany Soto went on the DL and debuted August 11, going 1-for-3 with a double (off Barry Zito) against the San Francisco Giants. On September 19th, he was involved in a frightening incident when his bat shattered and a fragment hit teammate Tyler Colvin, who was standing on deck, in the chest; Colvin suffered a punctured lung. Welington finished the season hitting .300 in 7 games. Bothered by injuries, he only played 61 games at Iowa in 2011, batting .286 with 15 homers; he also spent time with the AZL Cubs and Daytona Cubs on rehabilitation assignments. He did play 4 games with the Cubs, going 2 for 13 (.154). His playing time crept up to 52 games in 2012, hitting .265/.337/.418 in 170 at bats, then jumped to 113 games in 2013, with a solid .274/.349/.397, clubbing 8 home runs, 23 doubles and 32 RBI. He slipped in 2014 to a .237/.296/.389 line, belting 13 home runs with 46 RBI in another 380 at bats.
After 24 tough games (.163/.234/.349 in 43 at bats), Welington was traded to the Seattle Mariners on May 19, 2015 in return for pitcher Yoervis Medina. After barely two weeks with Seattle, during which he played 6 games, he was traded again, this time to the Arizona Diamondbacks on June 3rd. In contrast with the Cubs and Mariners, the D-Backs had a clear need for a catcher, having just lost starter Tuffy Gosewisch to a season-ending knee injury; Castillo and fellow veteran Jarrod Saltalamacchia, called up from the minors, were to share the catching burden. Joining Welington in the trade were pitcher Dominic Leone and two prospects, infielder Jack Reinheimer and outfielder Gabby Guerrero, while the Mariners received outfielder Mark Trumbo and pitcher Vidal Nuno. Castillo went on a power surge for the Diamondbacks starting on July 28th, as he hit 7 homers in 10 games. When he hit home run number 15 in a 13-3 win over the Philadelphia Phillies on August 10th, he set a new career high with seven weeks left in the season. He finished the year with 17 homers in 80 games for the D-Backs for a total of 19. He hit .255/.317/.496 and drove in 50 runs for Arizona. He was the team's starter again in 2016, playing 113 games and hitting .264/.322/.423 with 24 doubles and 14 homers with 68 RBI. His lack of walks (33 against 121 strikeouts) meant his OPS+ was only 92, while the D-Backs had a wretched season.
On May 19, 2017, playing for the Baltimore Orioles after signing as a free agent to replace Matt Wieters, he had the best game of his career when he homered twice against the Toronto Blue Jays. The second homer was a walk-off shot off Jason Grilli in the 10th inning that gave Baltimore a 5-3 win; his first long ball had been a game-tying two-run shot off Aaron Sanchez in the 6th. He played 96 games, hitting .282/.323/.490 with a career-high 20 homers and 53 RBI. He became a free agent again and joined the Chicago White Sox in 2018. He was hitting .267 in 33 games when, on May 23rd, a story emerged that he would be suspended 80 games for failing a drug test, confirmed the next day. The drug in question was EPO, the substance most associated with disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong. He returned in September and, for the year, hit .259/.304/.406 in 49 games with 6 homers and 15 RBI. He was the main backup for newly-acquired James McCann for the White Sox in 2019, when he played 72 games. He hit just .209/.267/.417, his lowest batting average since a cup of coffee in 2011, but hit 12 homers and collected 41 RBI. On October 31st, he was traded to the Texas Rangers, along with international slot money, in return for minor leaguer Jonah McReynolds. The move was designed to clear space on Chicago's 40-man roster, as a number of players were coming off the 60-day injured list, and it was likely that Texas would simply buy out his remaining option year for $500,000 rather than commit to the $8 million due. Indeed, on November 2nd, the Rangers announced that they had declined the option, making him a free agent. He signed with the Washington Nationals for 2020.
- 20-Home Run Seasons: 1 (2017)
- Kyle Payne: "Baseball, hometown close to Castillo's heart: Catcher's love of game, Dominican Republic neighborhood intertwined", mlb.com, November 22, 2016.