MILWAUKEE -- This is Welington Castillo's first season as a No. 1 catcher, and Cubs manager Dale Sveum said he can't wait to see how this year will pay off for the youngster next year.
Castillo has excelled defensively in blocking pitches and has thrown out 24 percent of base stealers, ranking 12th in fielding percentage among National League catchers. Sveum has seen improvement from the start.
"It's the first time he's been the guy," Sveum said Monday. "He's our No. 1 catcher, and his season has gradually gotten better and better and better. We're seeing the emergence of what he can do with the bat lately. I think there's still a lot more in that tank with that swing as soon as he gets more comfortable, it'll show next spring when he knows he's the guy and he's done it all and he can take a little more initiative."
Castillo was batting .294 in his last 10 games, hitting three of his seven home runs in that stretch.
Barney among Cubs in Gold Glove consideration
MILWAUKEE -- Gold Glove ballots will be distributed this week to Major League managers and coaches, and the Cubs have four players who could get consideration.
"[Darwin] Barney is the obvious choice," manager Dale Sveum said of his second baseman who won his first Gold Glove last season. "We've got some candidates and some very strong candidates. Barney's done nothing to give his away, that's for sure."
Barney leads all National League second basemen in fielding percentage and defensive WAR (1.4). He's not the only one who has played well defensively. Welington Castillo ranks first among Major League catchers with a 2.5 defensive WAR, while Anthony Rizzo leads all first basemen in defensive WAR (0.6) and UZR (.900) and ranks second in fielding percentage.
This year, for the first time, the ballots are accompanied by defensive stats to emphasize the players' skills.
"It probably helps when people are doing the voting, because it's right there in front of them and they can see what guys have done as well as errors and range and everything," Sveum said.
Starlin Castro does lead all NL shortstops with 18 errors, but has made just four errors in his last 72 games starting June 26. Sveum complimented Castro on his throwing and accuracy.
"He's made huge steps," Sveum said of Castro. "His fielding the ground ball, the throwing, the body control -- when he's getting balls in the six-hole, he's got a chance."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.