What are the Cubs getting in catcher Victor Caratini?

What are the Cubs getting in catcher Victor Caratini?
July 31, 2014, 9:15 pm
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Tony Andracki

While the rest of the baseball world was distracted by the David Price deal, the Cubs made an under-the-radar move at the trade deadline.

The Cubs sent Emilio Bonifacio and James Russell to the Atlanta Braves for Class-A catcher Victor Caratini.

[RELATED - After trade, James Russell will see what he's made of]

As Theo Epstein's front office shopped Bonifacio at the deadline, they got what they felt was the best player available in the Bonifacio market. The Cubs then had to sweeten the deal by adding Russell to the mix.

"We have to go after players we like," Cubs GM Jed Hoyer said. "There's no point in getting rid of players we like in Bonifacio and James Russell if we're not getting something back that we're excited about.

"He's a guy that we liked in the draft a lot. We've said all along, catching is a weakness in our system. We don't have enough of it. To get a guy that is a switch-hit catcher, knows the strike zone well, has performed well.

"We liked him in the draft and our pro scouts like him and he comes at a position where we know it's a weakness in the organization, so we're excited to get him."

[MORE - Cubs jumped out in front of the David Price/Jon Lester madness]

Caratini, 20, was drafted in the second round out of Miami-Dade College last year. He is hitting .279 with a .757 OPS, five homers, 42 RBI and 42 runs in Class-A Rome, earning a spot on the South Atlantic League All-Star roster.

Caratini was named the Braves' No. 8 prospect by Baseball America coming into the season and was also named the eight-best prospect traded at the deadline by BA (the Cubs notched the Nos. 1 and 2 prospects in Addison Russell and Billy McKinney, too). Here's how BA describes Caratini:

A switch-hitting Puerto Rican out of Miami-Dade CC, Caratini saw his draft stock rise when he added catching to his repertoire. He has made a strong impression already at the plate, hitting .279/.352/.406 in his full-season debut.

MinorLeagueBall.com's prospect analyst John Sickels had this to say about Caratini:

Caratini is a switch-hitter, listed at 6-0, 195, born August 17, 1993. Mainly a third baseman in college, he's been moved behind the plate at Rome and has held his own. He's thrown out 30% of runners while giving up just five errors and six passed balls in 70 games. He has a strong throwing arm and while he needs more experience, the conversion looks like it will work at this point. Mike Newman at Rotoscouting has this detailed report, pointing out Caratini's need for more polish with his receiving skills and throwing mechanics, but that's to be expected at this point in his career. Offensively, he is renowned for excellent strike zone judgment, no doubt attractive to the Cubs. He hasn't fully tapped his power yet, but that may come in time. 

Hoyer said the Cubs are planning on sending Caratini to Class-A Kane County and this move won't affect 2014 first-round pick Kyle Schwarber at all. Schwarber was a catcher in college, but may not stick at the position long term as his advanced bat moves quickly through the Cubs system.

[RELATED - Cubs stick to Baez plan after trading Bonifacio, Russell to Braves]

"[Schwarber] is obviously catching less now down in Daytona," Hoyer said. "But that's more to rest him. We feel like it's been a long season - obviously it started in January [with Indiana University].

"We'll have him do a lot of catching stuff in instructional league. So far, all his catching work with [Cubs minor league field coordinator] Tim Cossins has been excellent. We're excited where he is catching-wise. This doesn't affect him at all."

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