Earlier this week, the Chicago Cubs promoted Victor Caratini from Triple-A Iowa. Now the team’s backup catcher, who exactly is Caratini?
After bashing the ability of the Chicago Cubs’ pitching staff to hold on runners, the Chicago Cubs released veteran catcher Miguel Montero. Releasing Montero left a hole on the Cubs’ depth chart, no matter how ethically correct the move was.
To replace Montero, the Cubs called up catcher Victor Caratini Wednesday to backup starter Willson Contreras. Unlike many prospects before him, the Cubs’ 11th best prospect is a relatively unknown name. Here is what fans should know about the newest Cub:
Caratini was not drafted by the Cubs
Caratini, 23, was born in Puerto Rico before eventually moving to the United States to attend Miami Dade Community College. During his final college season, he hit .377 with six home runs in 175 at-bats. That June, the Atlanta Braves drafted him in the second round (65th overall) of the MLB Draft.
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One year into his Braves career, the Cubs acquired Caratini ahead of the 2014 trade deadline for Emilio Bonifacio and James Russell. Following the 2014 season, Caratini steadily climbed the Cubs minor league ladder.
After playing for Advanced-A Myrtle Beach in 2015, the Cubs promoted Caratini to Double-A Tennessee in 2016. He joined Triple-A Iowa in 2017. While he hit just .257 in 2015, Caratini’s bat caught fire this season.
Appearing in 68 games (245 at-bats) with Iowa, Caratini hit .343 with eight home runs and 54 RBIs. The switch-hitting catcher has been very successful from both sides of the plate; he hit .331 and .375 against right-handers and left-handers, respectively.
Before the Cubs promoted him, Caratini was in the midst of a tremendous month with Iowa. In 24 games, he hit .349, four home runs and 21 RBI. While he hit an even more staggering .366 in May, June was Caratini’s best individual month in terms of home run and RBI production.
In addition to being a talented hitter, Caratini fits the Cubs mold in regards to being a versatile defender. Like Contreras, Caratini began his professional career as a third baseman before switching to catcher. He has not played third since 2013, though he has played 25 games at first base with Iowa in 2017.
Can he throw out runners?
Before Cartini’s promotion, the Cubs could not have had two opposite players regarding throwing out potential base stealers. Contreras has thrown out 33.3 percent of runners. Montero, meanwhile, proved himself virtually useless in that regard in 2017.
During his time with Iowa, Cartini was somewhere between Contreras and Montero. He threw out 12 of 43 potential base stealers (27.9 percent). For the sake of comparison, Cincinnati Reds’ catcher Tucker Barnhart has thrown out 17 of 30 potential base stealers (56.6 percent).
Caratini’s Triple-A numbers are not on Barnhart’s level, yet the rest of the league is not either. If Caratini can continue his Triple-A pace with the Cubs, the team can improve controlling the run game.
Caratini is just 23 years old, but he will not be treated like a rookie with the Cubs. Like every top prospect of-late, he is expected to produce so long as he is in Chicago. If he plays as he did with Triple-A Iowa, the Cubs should get better than they were with Montero.