Today the Chicago Cubs designated veteran catcher Miguel Montero for assignment and promoted rookie catcher Victor Caratini to the major league roster. Bleed Cubbie Blue is covering the fallout from Montero’s comments yesterday and the quick move of the front office to cut ties with him, so let’s focus on what Caratini brings into the picture.
Caratini was originally drafted by the Atlanta Braves in the second round in 2013 from Miami-Dade Community College. The Cubs picked him up in a July 2014 trade for James Russell and Emilio Bonifacio.
He had something of a breakout season in 2016, hitting .291/.375/.405 in Double-A. Caratini ranked 10th on the pre-season Chicago Cubs Top 20 prospects for 2017 list with the following commentary:
10) Victor Caratini, C-1B, Grade B-/C+: Age 23, hit .291/.375/.405 with 54 walks, 80 strikeouts in 412 at-bats in Double-A; another Cubs hitter with sound strike zone judgment and OBP ability; lacks big power; threw out 27% of runners but with very low passed ball and error rates, typical for him, can also play first base well; probably a very good role player rather than a long-term regular but that has a lot of value. ETA late 2017.
Caratini has looked like more than a good role player this year in Triple-A, hitting a robust .343/.384/.539 for the Iowa Cubs. He’s already set a career-high with eight homers. His walk rate is down this year, with 20 free passes, but his strikeouts remain under control and the improved power is worth the trade-off.
Listed at 6-1, 215, Caratini is a switch-hitter born August 17, 1993. The Cubs are quite conscious of catcher defense at the moment and while Caratini isn’t exceptional against runners (throwing out 28% this year), he’s a reliable receiver and presence behind the plate. He can also handle first base is a decent manner although he lacks the speed or range to play elsewhere.
He has shown more home run thump this year. That trend may continue and I think a greater power spike is plausible when he gets into his late 20s. Even if it doesn’t, the combination of switch-hitting doubles power and a decent catching glove should give him a long career.