Stop me if you’ve heard this before: the Cubs have a prospect who is mashing in the upper minors.
Acquired at the Trade Deadline in 2014, switch-hitting catcher Victor Caratini has been brought along deliberately by the Cubs as his skills developed level by level. Rule 5 eligible after the 2016 season, the Cubs added Caratini to the 40-man roster this past offseason to protect him, and he may very well be the guy who would get the call if the Cubs had an urgent need for a medium-term catching addition.
It’s good, then, that Caratini’s development at the plate is coming along so well.
Through his first 165 AAA plate appearances, the 23-year-old Caratini is hitting .351/.394/.530, good for a 141 wRC+ in the PCL. Not only does that 141 account for the league, it’s worth reminding you that the Iowa Cubs’ home ballpark does not feature the same extreme offensive proclivities of the parks out west. Cubs prospect numbers at AAA tend to be much less inflated than their Las Vegas, Albuquerque, etc. compatriots.
Caratini’s been hitting so well, in fact, that he was named the catching prospect of the week by MLB Pipeline … for the second week in a row:
During his two-week stretch of honors-getting, Caratini has hit .408/.434/.648, and he’s about as hot as any hitter in the minor leagues.
That stretch included this home run, on which it’s impressive to see how quickly he gets his hands in and yanks the ball with authority:
Caratini’s performance thus far is not without question marks, though. For one thing, although he’s always been a high BABIP guy, his .383 mark this year is probably a bit inflated. And although his 12.7% strikeout rate is freaking sublime, the 7.3% walk rate is much lower than you’d expect to see from a guy who is otherwise raking. That combination of numbers suggests a guy who is swinging at everything and hitting it hard. That’s not a bad thing, but it’s not necessarily a sustainable thing over a long stretch against a range of pitchers.