We continue our daily look at the top prospects across the Chicago baseball landscape today with our profile on Chicago Cubs prospect Victor Caratini.
Caratini, 23, is the Chicago Cubs 15th ranted prospect according to MLB Pipeline, the former second round draft choice of the Atlanta Braves was acquired by the Cubs in 2014. Caratini a native of Puerto Rico, and a product of the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy (Gurabo, PR), spent his 2016 season with the Tennessee Smokies, the Cubs Double-A affiliate.
Caratini played his high school baseball with Houston Astros shortstop Carlos Correa in Puerto Rico, before attending Miami-Dade College, Kendall Campus (Miami, FL), after a transcript discrepancy made him ineligible to play Division I baseball. Caratini hit well enough in Junior College to be taken in the second round by the Atlanta Braves.
The Braves traded the catcher/first-baseman to the Cubs in 2014 in exchange for Emilio Bonifacio and James Russell. In 2014 Caratini became a full-time catcher, and possesses an above average arm, being graded at 55 for his Arm Tool by MLB Pipeline.
Scouting reports indicate that Caratini is definitely not a finished product defensively, but he currently receives and throws well enough behind the plate to stick with the position for the time being.
Caratini is a switch-hitter, who possesses a soft-stroke and concentrates on making frequent line-drive contact. Caratini profiles as a hitter with power, but due to his swing generating frequent line-drives, we can expect to see more doubles than home runs from the switch-hitting catcher.
In 2016 Caratini posted a .291 batting average in 480 plate appearances over the course of 115 games with the Cubs Double-A affiliate, the Tennessee Smokies. Caratini slashed .291/.375/.405/.780 in 2016 while hitting six home runs, 25 doubles and drove in 47 runs for the Smokies. More evidence that Caratini’s power is seen in his extra-base hit ability, rather than his home run production, was Caratini’s 25 doubles to just six home runs in 2016.
Through four seasons in the Braves and Cubs minor-league systems Caratini has a career slash line of .277/.364/.398/.762 with 101 doubles, nine triples, 16 home runs, and 180 RBI over the course of 386 games. Defensively, through 158 games behind the plate, Caratini has posted a .993 fielding percentage, and has thrown out 29 percent of opposing base-runners.
Caratini is rated average-below average by MLB Pipeline on most of his tools, with his best tools being his hitting and his arm, with those two tools receiving scores of 50 and 55 respectively on the 20-80 grading scale.
Caratini is likely to remain in the Cubs minor-league system in 2017, with his time split between the Cubs Double-A and Triple-A affiliates, before potentially seeing the major-league level at some point in 2018 or 2019, depending on the teams needs behind the plate, which right now look pretty good.
With Willson Contreras and Miguel Montero behind the plate for the 2017 season, and Contreras the catcher of the future at the current moment in time, Caratini appears to be blocked in the Cubs system, for the immediate future, and could potentially play his way into a trade this summer or next winter, with the Cubs needing another major-league ready starting pitcher.