That Emiio Bonifacio was going to be traded was not exactly the best kept secret. It also wasn’t surprising that the Cubs would also trade one of their LH relievers, who turned out to be James Russell.
Lately it seems that rather than make separate deals, the Cubs prefer to consolidate and get one good prospect rather than two average ones. The Cubs acquired a pretty good one today in Braves catcher Victor Caratini, who already rates as the Cubs #13 prospect per MLB.com, slotting right after Dan Vogelbach.
One NL scout who has seen him play thinks he will be able to stick at catcher and the switch-hitting aspect makes him an exciting prospect if he does. If the power comes than it could end up being a great deal for the Cubs.
Caratini was expendable to the Braves because of the emergence of their top young catching prospect in Christian Bethancourt. The Cubs were able to benefit from their depth and picked up a player who immediately ranks as their best catching prospect. What was once a weakness now has plenty of depth, though it as all at the lower levels. Caratini, Will Remillard, Mark Zagunis, Mark Malave, and Yohan Matos make a nice quintet. Hopefully one will emerge.
As for Caratini, he was a ranked prospect with the Braves. He is a 20 year old barrel-chested, switch-hitting catcher with a good approach and some raw power, though the latter is up for some debate. He is currently in low A ball where he is hitting .279/.352/.406 with 5 HRs. Few question he will hit, especially for a catcher. The question seems to be more about whether he will be able to stick at catcher.
We can take a look at what others are saying here and if I get any other information, I will add that. Fangraphs had him at #7. Mark Hulet had this to say,
The key to Caratini’s value as a prospect is tied to his ability to continue developing at his new defensive home behind the plate. Converted to full-time catcher after his first pro season, the young prospect has picked up the basic skills quite quickly. He also has experience at third base but is considered below-average defensively and lacks the power profile to become an elite prospect there. Caratini shows a good swing at the plate as a switch-hitter and isn’t afraid the go the other way from either side of the plate. He also has a solid eye and some patience.
A switch-hitting catcher with average defensive skills, strong on-base abilities and gap power carries a ton of value so you can understand why Atlanta would attempt this experiment.
John Sickels of Minor League Ball slotted him at #10,
Borderline B-. Solid line drive hitter with good strike zone judgment, hit just one homer in the Appy League but some scouts believe that the homers will come in time. Others aren’t sure, but at least he has a good eye. Will be interesting to see how he adapts defensively.
MLB.com, as mentioned, have him at #13 in a very deep Cubs system….
Caratini is a switch-hitter and has a good approach from both sides of the plate. Because his swing doesn’t create much loft, opinion varies on how much power he will ultimately have. But he makes hard contact and drives the ball well from gap to gap.
Caratini has the tools to be a capable defender at either position, but it’s his offensive ability that makes him stand out most.
Baseball Prospectus has a free Eyewitness Report from Ethan Purser, it isn’t quite as optimistic,
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.
All in all, this is a good gamble for the Cubs. They got themselves a pretty good catching prospect with an interesting set of skills. In some ways he reminds me a bit of Mark Malave in that he is a big-bodied catcher who may not stick at the position, has a good appproach, switch-hits, and has raw strength but does not yet hit for power.
gave up a utility player and a LH specialist, Bonifacio’s spark and energy will be missed but with the Cubs moving toward using Arismendy Alcantara and then possibly Javier Baez down the road, they could use the space and the playing time.
The trade opens up two roster spots and it will be interesting to see how the Cubs fill those spots. Stay tuned.