Yesterday, the Chicago Cubs added to their deep, deep coffers of prospects by picking up catcher Victor Caratini from the Braves in exchange for Emilio Bonifacio, James Russell, and about $1 million in cash.
And today, we’re wondering: what do we think about Caratini? Good things about the bat, hopeful things about the defense behind the plate.
- A second-round pick in 2013, Caratini was hitting .279/.352/.406 in his first taste of full season ball at age 20. He’s a switch hitter, and he’s got a very nice 9.3% BB rate and 16.2% K rate. After playing third base exclusively last year, he’s moved back to catcher this year, with most reports indicating he’s got the potential to stick back there. He’ll head to Kane County for the Cubs.
- A consensus top 10 prospect in the Braves’ system (middle-of-the-pack) before the season, Caratini seems to have held steady in those rankings into the midseason (MLB.com recently put him at 7 in their midseason update). My early take would have him slotting into the Cubs’ system somewhere in the 15 to 25 range, thanks to the Cubs’ extreme depth. MLB.com placed him in the Cubs’ system at 13.
- Caratini is considered a line drive hitter with a solid approach at the plate. He could stand to add more loft to his swing, if possible, because he otherwise has the physical ability to have some nice power.
- Here’s a thorough scouting report from BP (but keep in mind, this is from early in the year, and it’s just one scouting look). A snippet: “All in all, Caratini projects to be a utility player who can play some third, some catcher, and possibly even some first base at the highest level. His bat will be his carrying tool through the minors, but his lack of a true defensive home will limit his impact at the highest level. If a team is willing to punt defense behind the plate (i.e. the running game), he has the ceiling of a second-division regular as his bat would profile well at the position.” The reason for my parenthetical up front is that Baseball America’s report on Caratini before the season, and MLB.com’s take midseason each suggest he actually has a good arm. So, just keep that in mind. Scouting is an art.
- Speaking of that BA take, here’s a snippet on Caratini, preseason: “Caratini is an advanced hitter with a line-drive swing, a gap-to-gap approach from both sides of the plate and an excellent feel for the strike zone.” All in all, it sounds like Caratini could be a big league regular or better if he can stick behind the plate, thanks to the upside in his bat. If he can’t stick behind the plate, he might wind up a reasonably useful utility player.
- Jed Hoyer said that the Cubs liked Caratini in the draft last year, and their pro scouts have liked what they’ve seen from him after the draft. So, no surprise: the Cubs like him. Given his profile, is that any surprise? Oh, wait, I already said it wasn’t a surprise. Ok. No surprise.
- Caratini was a C prospect to John Sickels before the season (not a surprise, given that he hadn’t yet played in full-season ball), and the general take was that the bat will play, but he needs work behind the plate. Again, that’s what you’d expect at his age.
- JJ Cooper with a quick take after the trade:
Very nice pickup for Cubs. Caratini is a solid catching prospect. Was the one position lacking among Cubs' position prospects.
— JJ Cooper (@jjcoop36) July 31, 2014
- Caratini was ranked by BA as the 8th best prospect that was traded in July, ahead of Taylor Lindsey and Edwin Escobar (guys who came into the year as top 100 types, but who’ve struggled). That’s damn high praise.
- (Addison Russell and Billy McKinney were ranked 1 and 2, by the way. That McKinney ranking put him ahead of guys like Colin Moran, Willy Adames and Eduardo Rodriguez, by the way. Nice.)
- I like to peek at opposing teams’ fan reactions in situations like this, and it looks like Braves fans are disappointed to lose Caratini, and instead focus on the “we have lots of catching” to justify the move. That doesn’t make it a bad deal for the Braves – and I hope Bonifacio/Russell do well for them – but it does sound good from a Cubs fan perspective.
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