The Chicago Cubs acquired catcher prospect Victor Caratini as part of a trade with the Atlanta Braves that saw Chicago get rid of utility player Emilio Bonifacio and southpaw pitcher James Russell.
MLB Roster Moves reported the news Thursday:
Phil Rogers of MLB.com provided more details on how much value Caratini can bring to the Cubs when he's ready for the major league level:
Victor Caratini, the S-hitting C acquired by @Cubs from Atlanta, opened the season as Braves' No. 8 prospect and is playing well in low-A.— Phil Rogers (@philgrogers) July 31, 2014
Baseball America's JJ Cooper added a noteworthy anecdote regarding Caratini's previous stature in the Braves organization:
Victor Caratini was the Braves No. 6 prospect on Braves Top 10 in the Midseason Prospect Upate.— JJ Cooper (@jjcoop36) July 31, 2014
KCCI-TV sports director Andy Garman endorsed the deal:
Cubs trade James Russell and Emilio Bonifacio to Atlanta for low-A catcher Victor Caratini. He's the Braves' 8th-best prospect. I like it.— Andy Garman (@GarmanSports) July 31, 2014
For a prospect who is just 20 years old, there's plenty to like about Caratini's game. After hitting .290 in the minors last season, he is currently hitting .279. Baseball Reference has his seasonal slash line:
Victor Caratini has hit .279/.352/.406 at Single-A Rome this season: http://t.co/iEE4gbIYdR— Baseball Reference (@baseball_ref) July 31, 2014
How soon will the Cubs call up Victor Caratini?
The site also delves into his fielding statistics behind the plate, which are quite impressive. A strong arm and quick release have allowed Caratini to catch 30 percent of runners stealing bases in 2014.
For perspective, Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez, known for his defense as a consecutive All-Star selection the past two years, has thrown out 30.8 percent of runners this season.
Caratini also offers versatility in that he's played 10 games as a third baseman for Single-A Rome this season, along with 70 at catcher and even seven as a designated hitter. That shows the type of faith Caratini's team has in his bat at this point.
The MLB and Single-A offer vastly different competition, but there's no denying that Caratini can keep speed demons on the basepaths at least somewhat honest.
There is no doubting Caratini's talent as a hitter, too. Capable of batting from both sides of the dish, the young player has plenty of big league potential. He's also hit four triples this season, going against the stereotype that catchers can't run.
The question is when Caratini could contribute to the Cubs, who are in the midst of an extended rebuilding process that has yet to translate to consistent winning.
One former MLB executive, though, praised the job Cubs general manager Theo Epstein has done to date, per CSNChicago.com's David Kaplan:
I applaud what Theo and company have been able to do in taking a subpar farm system and turning it into the best in baseball in a relatively short amount of time. However, that was the easy part compared to helping those kids flourish as big leaguers while also starting to spend money on free agents.
Epstein obviously has a long-term view for building Chicago into a legitimate contender, so landing Caratini for a modest cost seems like a big positive. On the Cubs' current roster, catchers Welington Castillo (.236) and John Baker (.217) are struggling with the bat, giving Chicago some insurance at the lower level if neither quite pans out in the MLB.
Although he doesn't offer much power, Caratini is a savvy batter capable of getting on base and running well when he does. All of that bodes well for a productive big league career perhaps sooner rather than later.