#15—Victor Caratini

NorthSiders Report continues its Top 50 Prospect Countdown with catcher Victor Caratini. Acquired at the end of July from Atlanta in a trade involving Emilio Bonifacio and James Russell, the switch-hitting catcher was named a South Atlantic League All-Star before the trade with a OPS over .750.

Name: Victor Caratini, C
Age: 21 (8/17/1993)
Bats: Both
Throws: Right
Height: 6-foot
Weight: 195 pounds
How acquired:Trade with Atlanta for IF Emilio Bonifacio and LHP James Russell on July 31, 2014.

2014 Teams
Rome Braves, South Atlantic League, Low A (87 G, .279/.352/.406, 5 HR, 42 RBI);
Kane County Cougars, Midwest League, Low A, (14 G, .264/.310/.377, 0 HR, 13 RBI)

Prior to Cubs
After attending the Puerto Rican Baseball Academy, Caratini was headed to Southern University but was rule ineligible and was without a college. He was able to enroll at Miami Dade Junior College, and while playing time behind the plate was tough to come by, was able to showcase his bat and his arm at third base. He played 45 games, hitting .377/.467/.549 with 6 HR, 66 RBI, 10 SB, and 44 runs. The Braves used their second-round pick to draft Caratini (#65 overall) and sent him to Danville in the Appalachian Rookie League. Caratini not only lived up to his second-round billing, (.290/.415/.430 in 58 games) he instantly became one of the top prospects in the Braves organization. While he only had one homer, he did smack 23 doubles. Caratini spent first pro season at third, and made the transition to catcher before the start of ’14.

2014 Season
Starting the first two games at third for the Rome Braves in the Low A South Atlantic League, Caratini made his pro catching debut April 5 at Hagerstown, slugging a two-run homer in the win. He only made eight more starts at third, the last April 30, and spent the rest of his time behind the dish. In 87 games at Rome, Caratini displayed his extra base power with five homers, four triples and 18 doubles. With the ability to show he could catch and an OPS over .750, Caratini was named to the SAL All-Star game and was shooting up the Braves prospect list when the Cubs came calling. After the deal, the Cubs sent their new catcher to Kane County, where he only played in 14 games before being shutdown for the season. During his one month stay, Caratini drew compliments from Kane County Manager Mark Johnson, who said Caratini moves well behind the plate, has a high ceiling, and despite his age, won’t take much time to develop. He caught nine games and spent five at DH, going 14-for-53 with four doubles and 13 RBI.

2015 Outlook
Jed Hoyer told reporters after the trade Caratini was someone they liked, not only leading up to the 2013 draft but after he turned pro. Hoyer cited Caratini’s ability to switch hit, play third and catch, and knowledge of the strike zone as qualities the Cubs valued. His best tool is his bat and he’s shown the ability to square up the ball with some power from both sides. Its the best of both worlds for the Cubs organization, a young player with good athleticism who can switch-hit and play more than one position. Caratini bolsters the Cubs organizational depth at catcher and gives them another young prospect to develop behind the plate. Where he starts the season may depend more on other prospects, and how they plan to use Caratini in ’15. He could see reps at third to increase his at-bats and will likely DH, wherever he starts the season. Caratini may not be a name Cubs fans are familiar with but that should change by the end of the summer.

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