Castillo igniting prospect-laden Iowa

Cubs prospect turning heads with third straight three-hit game

By Jonathan Raymond / Special to | April 14, 2012 9:26 PM ET

There are two Top 40 prospects in the lineup for Triple-A Iowa, but the Cubs' hottest hitter is the guy batting between them.

Sandwiched between Brett Jackson and Anthony Rizzo, Welington Castillo went 3-for-4 with an RBI on Saturday, registering his third straight three-hit game in Iowa's 6-5 loss at Round Rock.

Since starting the season 2-for-11, Castillo has nine hits in 11 at-bats to bring his average up to .500.

Yes, .500.

"He's been swinging the bat well, he's been hitting it real hard, so he's been doing a good job," said I-Cubs manager Dave Bialas.

Last year, Castillo battled injury issues, mostly with his hamstring, and appeared in only 75 games between Iowa and a rehab stint with Class A Advanced Daytona.

After brief stints with the big league club in 2010 and 2011, the native of the Dominican Republic -- if he stays healthy -- could return to Wrigley Field. In 61 Pacific Coast League games last season, he batted .286, slugged .524 and hit 15 homers in limited playing time.

In 2010, another injury-plagued campaign, he had 13 homers and 59 RBIs in only 69 games with Iowa.

"He's developed well, with the bat, receiving, calling the game," Bialas said. "I think he has a good chance to be an everyday Major League catcher some day. He's on his path."

Castillo has spent a long time working his way through the Cubs system. He signed as an international free agent in December 2004 and made it stateside in 2006. He can claim the rare distinction of having played for every Cubs Minor League affiliate.

That's partly why Bialas hopes to see the catcher maintain a regular presence -- injury-free -- in the lineup this season.

"He's going to catch five out of seven days for us, get a lot of at-bats, get a lot of time behind the plate calling games and running the staff," the manager said. "Offensively, he has power, he has bat speed and he's made a lot of improvements in strike zone discipline.

"He's healthy, he's in great shape and he's made a lot of progress. Done a real good job for us here."

Jackson,'s No. 33 overall prospect, hit his second homer of the season and doubled in five plate appearances. Rizzo, No. 36 among's Top 100 prospects, went 1-for-4 and is hitting .385 with a PCL-leading five homers. Cubs No. 12 prospect Josh Vitters chipped in a two-run double.

Iowa took a 5-3 lead into the seventh, but Rangers No. 4 prospect Leonys Martin homered, Matt Kata doubled in the tying run and scored the go-ahead run on a two-out single by Luis Martinez.

Jonathan Raymond is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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