So, I wrote up this long post on Vinnie Catricala. It sucks and it’s too wordy.
So here we go at something short and sweet. He was on my mind after being placed #59 on Seedlings to Stars Top-100 prospect count down. Forget about where he placed and all that, I don’t want to get into that debate because it’s rigorous, stupid and wide open to interpretation.
What I do want to talk about is the fact that Nate Stoltz compared him to that of Lucas Duda. A comparison which I think could be very fighting but also eye opening. Duda posted a solid wRC+ of 136 and while I would take Catricala’s bat over Duda’s at this point the thing that worries me, is that Duda gave away nearly all the value of his bat with his poor fielding.
It’s impossible to completely understand Catricala’s defensive value at this point. But it certainly remains a concern that he is consistently highlighted as a player with defensive question marks associated with him. He’s a guy with slow foot speed and someone that is still making the transition to left field, so automatically we can know that there isn’t going to be a lot of positive reports off the bat. He’s going to need to work on perfecting his route running and with his lack of speed the jump he gets on fly ball is going to be critical to being an average fielder.
I like Catricala’s bat a lot. But, defensive capabilities are important factors that can’t be forget when considering a player regardless of how good they hit the ball. Yes, the metrics that we use to measure players abilities in those positions are far from perfect, but it doesn’t take away the importance of the player’s ability.
I’m sure I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know. But, I hear a lot of fans get excited about Catricala. Heck, I’m excited about him. If he turns out to be even ¾ of the guy I think he could be, then the Mariners could have a very good bat in their line-up. Again, the developing problem is that depending on how poor his defense is, he may just not be a real option out on the field.
There are few guys in the league anymore whose bat is justifiable with defense as poor as Luda or even someone like Logan Morrison in a corner outfield spot over 150 games. It’s a risk and while all prospects are risky it’s frustrating to finally have a prospect that looks like he’ll work out in the batter’s box only to have the cruel irony of it all end up with him not working out to be good enough defensively to keep his spot in the line-up.
I’ve just been feeling rather pessimistic about Catricala right now.
The plus side of things is that looking at someone like Ryan Braun, who is someone that I continue to compare Catricala due to their age and performances at each level, is a -6 run UZR/150 defender in left, a life time wRC+ of 149 and still produces 5.5 WAR per 700 plate appearances.
I’m not saying that Catricala is ever going to post a sustained wRC+ of 149 over any period at the big league level. But, I am going to say that he’s, in my opinion, a solid bet to be an above average hitter at the big league level and that it wouldn’t surprise me for him to become something in the wRC+ range of 125-135 as a hitter over 150 games.
There I just cheered myself up.