Vinny Catricala vs. Ryan Braun


I enjoy looking at draft histories.

The what-if’s and the misses are kind of fun to look at in general (though I’m soooo tired of the Mariner draft meme’s). I like thinking about what would the Mariners look like if the had drafted Mike Trout, what would the Pirates look like if they took the draft seriously in the early 2000’s.

What if the Pirates pulled down a Zach Grienke or B.J. Upton in 2002. Would either of these players be the same player they are had they gone to a different organization.

I don’t know maybe people just become too depressed to think about these things. I think they’re interesting.

Something specifically I’ve been doing in my free time is comparing the Milwaukee Brewers drafts of the early/mid-2000’s to the recent drafts of the Seattle Mariners and the type of players and mold that they had in common.

It then popped into my head while I was sifting through the 2009 draftees. I was looking at Vinny Catricala and I had been thinking about Ryan Braun then I started to compare the two in terms of their college numbers and then their minor league numbers.

At first glance you can see that already Catricala was hardly the college specieman at Hawaii that Braun was at Maimi. But, the off-season between Catricala’s Sophmore and Junior year it was said he spent much more time throwing up weights and putting on muscle.

It showed as Catricala threw up some big numbers that Junior year and caught some eyes around the league. Though it was against mediocre compition being apart of the WAC.

On the other end Braun put up multiple years of solid and polished production as a member of the Maimi Hurricanes and every year reaching the College World Series, not to mention being ranked #8, #4 and #15 overall in the NCAA.

Catricala hit the minors a year earlier than what Braun did but each hit low-minors pitching very well and while Catricalas’ numbers have been interesting enough they didn’t appear to be to the high levels of what Braun produced.

Vinny Catricala

3 Seasons1423224398103650225308131238.322.397.536.933

Ryan Braun

3 Seasons86413124061642144341270151.313.375.572.948

Of course there are a lot of numbers there and I wanted another way of looking and comparing these numbers. As some of you may or may not know, I really like wRC+  and it’s just simpler to use here.

Ryan BraunwRC+
Age 22153
Age 23169

Vinny CatricalawRC+
Age 20138
Age 21142
Age 22167

The line that I want to really focus on is both of their age 22 seasons and specifically their time spent in AA, in which they spent very close to the same amount of time in the Southern League.

It’s easy to put a stamp on Catricala and say he’ll be the next Ryan Braun. Certainly there are similarities. But, I would caution fans to keep some of that enthusiasm bottled up. There is one huge difference between Braun’s AA season and Catriacala’s that I haven’t mention, but many of you could guess.

Yes, that of course that would be BABIP.

Catricala had an extremely high BABIP of .389 and helps explain the batting average. Braun merely had a BABIP of .322. While, yes it was elevated it’s hardly to the extent of what Catricala produced. While I hardly believe that Catricala’s season was the influence of pure luck and/or was there by a fluke.

I have long thought that Catricala had an explosive bat

"If he [Catricala] [ends up] go[ing] to High Desert he’s going to destroy. Repeat with me. DESTROY IT. It’s going to be an Alderaan vs. Death Star moment and he is going to be the Death Star. Boom! – 4/28/11"

I’m just not yet convienced that it’s at the elite level just yet. I really hope it is and I hope I’m not wrong. But, it’s something that we’ll only find out come time spent in AAA.

On defense both are in similar situation where there was uncertain on whether or not they will be able to stick at third base. Though, I will say that there was more optimistim, looking at Baseball America reports, that Braun could become adequate enough to stick at third base.

Obviously Braun wasn’t able to make the adjustments and he was forced to a corner outfield spot. Catricala is in a similar position, as his latteral movements just aren’t that good and he isn’t quick enough to stick at the hot corner.

It’s very likely that Catricala will at the very minimum follow the route of Braun to left field. I think at this point that would be ideal for Mariner fans, as first base is already looking rather crowded.

There is a few positive things to look at regarding Catricala and his defense. While often used as a means of being able to project things such as an ability to produce infield hits and an influence in BABIP, speed score can give us an insight into a players quickness.

Catricala’s athletic ability and overall speed isn’t a “plus” tool but it’s one that is often overlooked. He has the ability to be smart on the bases, as well as quickness. He has a career minor league speed score of 5.3 and while this doesn’t nesscarily tell us one way or another whether he’s a capable defender it does give us some similar players to compare him too.

Guys such as Jason Bay, Alex Gordon, Brad Wilkerson and of course Ryan Braun are guys that have similar frames and in the past have posted speed scores from the mid-4’s to 5’s all of them tend to stray from year to year. Some with decent years others with pretty poor years. What I tend to believe is that he’ll be below average but not completely harmful.

It will be extremely interesting going forward to see how Catricala performs. Both in AAA and in left field. If he can stick in the outfield the team could have a very valuable piece going forward.