Dodgers Prospect Watch: A Closer Look at Diego Cartaya

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One would need to go back nearly a decade to realize the last time the Dodgers had significant strength and depth at the catching position. Russell Martin was coming off back-to-back All-Star campaigns in 2007 and 2008, while A.J. Ellis was emerging as one of the most reliable backup catchers in the bigs. Plus, there was a Top 5 prospect named Carlos Santana who was revered by every rival GM across the league.

In spite of that, Los Angeles boss Ned Colletti traded away Santana to the Indians before the 2008 non-waiver deadline in what was one of the most scrutinized deals in recent Dodgers’ history. The Dodgers got Casey Blake—a solid leader and a very reliable glove at the hot corner—and Cleveland received a top-notch star who would contribute for many years down the road. Seemingly, both sides were happy with the trade, although the Dodgers’ lost a huge chunk of their organizational depth behind the plate.

Two years later, in a surprising move, Colletti non-tendered Martin in the winter of 2010. Martin, who was 28 at the time and felt he still was among the game’s best, signed a two-year pact with the Yankees, leaving Los Angeles razor-thin in the catching department. Colletti would later use several serviceable veterans, including Rod Barajas and Brad Ausmus, to provide support for Ellis, who finally emerged as the club’s primary catcher after an eternity in the minors.

Today, although the organization is without a bonafide backstop in the majors, its farm system is loaded with talent, especially at catcher. The Dodgers may conceivably be the deepest club in baseball with prospects at the backstop position, and international signings are a huge reason why. Keibert Ruiz was signed out of Venezuela on his 16th birthday in 2014 and has elevated to become one of the top young catchers in the minors. And, if you weren’t following along last summer, Los Angeles signed another Venezuelan backstop, Diego Cartaya, to a $2.5 million bonus in July.

At the time of his signing, Cartaya was 16 years of age and ranked second on MLB.com’s International Top 30 list. Even though he’s yet to play a single inning on United States soil, scouts are so impressed with Cartaya that he has elevated to an eleventh-place ranking on MLB Pipeline‘s list of Dodgers prospects.

Most likely, the 17-year-old, right-handed hitter will be heading stateside to compete immediately after his 18th birthday in September of 2019.

According to Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com, Cartaya is an advanced hitter who displays plus contact skills and who has been praised for his pitch recognition and feel for the strike zone. He has shown some power to the gaps. On defense, Sanchez says Cartaya has a reputation as a great receiver with very good hands. He handles pitchers well and has a high baseball IQ.

Even big league skipper Dave Roberts had a tingle of excitement at the time of the signing.

“Didn’t see any video yet,” Roberts said in July. “Didn’t see him hit or anything, but from what I understand from our scouts, very excited about him. The body is a very mature body. Really talented kid from what I understand, and so I know we’re excited.”

As stated by MLB Pipeline, the 6-foot-2, 200 lb. Cartaya draws repeated comparisons to Kansas City’s Salvador Perez because of his large frame, defensive ability and strong makeup. He moves well for a tall guy behind the plate and demonstrates advanced receiving skills for his age. He has the arm strength and accuracy to keep the running game in check.

At this stage, it’s impossible to pinpoint an accurate major league arrival time for the youngster, but pundits are guesstimating a ballpark of 2023. In the meantime, Los Angeles continues to corner the market on catching prospects, as Ruiz, Cartaya, Will Smith and Connor Wong all rank in the organization’s list of Top 16 overall prospects.

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On another note, November 25 marks exactly three years since the creation of this website. All of us here at Think Blue Planning Committee would like to thank all the dedicated readers who have stuck by us during this time, as well as all the newcomers who continue stumble across our work. Bigger and better things are abound in 2019!

 

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13 thoughts on “Dodgers Prospect Watch: A Closer Look at Diego Cartaya

  1. This catching depth will be a big advantage in the trade market. We’d just better make the right choices for which guys to trade and which to keep. Or maybe we should just keep all of them. We already know that Smith can play infield. I wonder if Ruiz or Cartaya can play a second position. Someday, maybe we’ll be able to start 8 catchers.

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      1. Dennis, he should be there this year with Smith and Ruiz most likely moving up to AAA. Of course that depends on if they non tender Farmer and Gale. Those two would drop back down if they do not make the 25 man out of spring. Farmer though could end up a utility guy if they make some trades.

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      2. I think the front office now considers Farmer to be a third baseman who could catch in an emergency, so he wouldn’t necessarily block Ruiz or Smith at OKC. Gale is another story since I don’t think he has a second position. On the other hand, Rocky Gale is not going to take Ruiz’s roster spot at OKC if they think Keibert should start the year there.

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      3. Because he’s a switch-hitter, i think Ruiz has the potential to push himself ahead of Will Smith on the depth chart. Plus, he was just added to the 40-man, which almost makes him guaranteed action in September. Everything’s setting up for 2019 as the year he starts to emerge, so long as he’s able to produce at OKC.

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  2. Happy birthday TBPC, with many, many more to come. With the prospects the Marlins are holding out for Realmuto, maybe catchers are going to be the new currency of the realm, if so I would say we are in good shape, if we can just fill the hole for one more year.

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  3. Keep the two that grade the highest and trade the other two for need or depth.

    What does Cleveland want? I read outfielders. We got ‘em. RH preferred? Kemp, Taylor, Peters. LH? Verdugo , Pederson, Kendall. Put together a package for Kluber and Gomes. The Yankees want left handed power? They want LH Starting pitching ? Why not Pederson, Wood/Hill for Stanton. Nobody else wants that contract. Then the Yanks can sign Harper.

    We are in the unique position of having inexpensive ML players AND some interesting prospect. We can compete for anyone we want. Who do we really want? Kluber, Gomes and Stanton and I’m good.

    There is a fascinating conversation at LADodgertalk regarding the financial dealings of Guggs Baseball. I find it difficult to recommend that site because the owner of it is a disagreeable cretin, but if you want a good read on the money situation there are some interesting posts. “There is smoke”.

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    1. I have decided that we are not trading Verdugo. He’s one of our starting outfielders come opening day and he gets till the end of May to play himself out of it. We need more contact hitters. I give you permission to trade Joc, Toles, Puig, CT3 or Kemp in the right deal. Actually Kemp could probably be included in the wrong deal as we apparently need to save his salary. If the Yanks actually wanted to move Stanton to sign Harper, and assuming we would be willing, I don’t see why we should give them any more than a batboy for him. We’re assuming a ridiculous amount of salary so they can turn around and spend even more. They should give us Giancarlo and take Kemp on top of that. Took a look at the financial stuff on the other site. There does seem to be smoke. Are you by any chance a member of the Sedona Volunteer Fire Brigade? What’s your nom de plume over there?

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      1. I would like to thank both of you for commenting on the LADodgerTalk article. As I indicated over the holidays, I write for another site but I love to come to this site. I do not comment much, but have occasionally in the past. However, I am that author, although it is Always Compete over there. I write with that “disagreeable cretin” and I do consider him a friend. I would not come on this. great site and recommend any other site. But I am glad that a couple of you took the time to read what I wrote and commented. Whether you agree with the premise or not, it got you to thinking, and that is what it should all be about.

        Congratulations Dennis and everyone associated with this site on three years. I hope that it is at least 33 more, and that we can all celebrate a Dodgers WS championship or 10 along the way.

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      2. Thanks for identifying yourself jef (or AC, as the case may be). Good to know we have a financial guru looking out for us. Hope to see more comments from you over here.

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      3. You write well jef. I go there just to catch up on what it is you have to report. I’ll keep my opinion of the leader there to myself going forward. I’d like to know more about the financial truth of the Guggs, as if that were actually possible. We often don’t know the truth about our financial giants until it’s too late.

        I see that the Dodgers farm system has a cumulative ranking of 9th now. The Padres are #1. How soon before they are competing in the West?

        I think it may be time to designate Alvarez, Sborz and White as relievers and get them ready now. It’s time for Verdugo to play every day in the Majors. If not here, then trade him for immediate need – in my estimation that would be to Cleveland for a starter or to Miami for a catcher. A package with him leading it would be of value to many organizations. The rest of what we have in the minors looks like at best B or B+ prospects. Even the catchers (save Ruiz) don’t show up on the Top 50 prospects lists.

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