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The Enigma That Is Diego Cartaya

There are multiple things that is driving Diego Cartaya’s perceived value down.  First and foremost it is now and has always been PERCEIVED value.  The Dodgers more than any other team get preferential valuation on prospects.  I often refer to it as Dodger hype.   Cartaya was an advanced 16 year old catcher in Venezuela.  Would he stay as advanced?  That is always a question for the International market whose top prospects are signed as 16 year olds.

Cartaya scouting report when signed:

Cartaya displays plus contact skills and has been praised for his pitch recognition and feel for the strike zone. He has shown some power to the gaps. On defense, Cartaya has a reputation as a great receiver with very good hands. He handles pitchers well and has a high baseball IQ.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said he had a chance to briefly see Cartaya, but has yet to watch him play.

“Didn’t see any video,” Roberts said. “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.”


Cartaya first hit the LAD Top 30 in 2019 at #10 for MLB Pipeline.  Here is the first go at his scouting grades with MLB Pipeline

MLB Pipeline 2019

Scouting grades: Hit: 55 | Power: 45 | Run: 35 | Arm: 60 | Field: 55 | Overall: 50


Cartaya’s feel for barrel and the strike zone stands out for such a young player. He recognizes pitches well and is willing to use the opposite field, emphasizing making hard contact over selling out for power. As he learns to turn on pitches and use his lower half more in his right-handed swing, he could produce 15 or more homers per year. 

Though he’s taller than most catchers, Cartaya is agile and moves well behind the plate. He already shows advanced receiving ability for a teenager and should fit in well in an organization that prioritizes framing skills. He also has a strong arm and makes accurate throws.


In the just released updated 2023 top 30 LAD prospects, Cartaya’s grade was updated to as follows.

MLB Pipeline – August 2023

Scouting grades: Hit: 45 | Power: 55 | Run: 35 | Arm: 60 | Field: 50 | Overall: 55


Cartaya is built to hit for power with a quick right-handed stroke and the strength and leverage in his 6-foot-3, 219-pound frame. He has good feel for launching balls in the air to his pull side, though his pop plays to all parts of the ballpark and he did a better job of using the opposite field in 2022. His offensive game has regressed in 2023, however, as Double-A pitchers have exploited his swing-and-miss tendencies and he has struggled to do damage against non-fastballs. 

While Cartaya has the ingredients to stand out on defense as well, that part of his game needs more polish. Though his arm strength earns well above-average grades from some scouts, he threw out just 19 percent of basestealers last season, and his receiving, framing and blocking are works in progress as well. Besides his physical ability, he also draws praise for his game-planning, communication and leadership skills, and his overall makeup. 


Diego’s hit score decreased to below average, but his power numbers took a corresponding increase. He also has not developed as quickly defensively as scouts had hoped.  His overall FV also increased.  Why?  Power is perceived to be a “better” skill with more value than bat to ball skills.  He seems to fit right into the LAD skills values.

FanGraphs is another trusted site.  If you are unfamiliar with FanGraphs Scouting Grade tables, the first number in the skill box is their current value and the second number is their future value.  In their initial review  of Diego’s skills:

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Venezuela (LAD)

Age 17.6 Height 6′ 2″ Weight 200 Bat / Thr R / R FV 40+

Tool Grades (Present/Future)

Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
25/50 45/55 20/45 40/30 40/55 60/60


This is a very physical teenager with some of the best present raw power in his signing class and a good chance to play a premium defensive position at catcher. Cartaya has a strong, physically mature build that inspires Salvador Perez comparisons. He has excellent lateral mobility despite his size, and his receiving was alright, but not great, when he caught pro-quality stuff at showcases.

He checks all the other beloved catcher skillset boxes: Cartaya is poised and engaged with his pitchers, he has a great arm, he looks built to meet the position’s physical demands, and makes an attempt to frame pitches when he can. There’s a chance he outgrows the position but he’s deceptively athletic for his size, and we’d call it unlikely. There’s not as much room for power projection here as there is for most others this age, but there’s enough to profile at catcher. Cartaya’s approach is geared for well-timed, pull-side gap contact. He’s a potential regular who’ll likely spend his first pro season in Arizona, as he’s too physical for the DSL.

 FanGraphs comes right out and says how more physically mature Cartaya is.    He has been caught, not only by other MiLB catching prospects, but also by another LAD prospect, Dalton Rushing.

Here is the latest FanGraphs report card for Diego Cartaya.

FanGraphs – February 2023

Signed: July 2nd Period, 2018 from Venezuela (LAD)

Age 21.3 Height 6′ 3″ Weight 219 Bat / Thr R / R FV 55

Tool Grades (Present/Future)

Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
30/45 55/60 35/60 40/30 45/55 70


FanGraphs also gives Cartaya an improved overall FV.  It will be interesting to see if Cartaya remains a 55 FV and a top 100 prospect for FanGraphs come next pre-season.

I had always maintained that Diego Cartaya was going to be a good prospect, but I was not convinced that he was a future perennial All Star.  I thought that he was hyped because of his power potential, but early on he experienced too many injuries.  If he was experiencing back issues as a teenager, how well would he age?

Keibert Ruiz was always a more advance prospect at similar ages.  At the same age as Cartaya is now, Ruiz made his MLB debut.  In 2021 after the trade to the Nationals, Keibert became the regular backstop for Washington in his age 22 season.

What has changed.  Cartaya has gone away from his pull side attack.  Last year he experienced a 50.6% pull rate to 43.2 %.  But he also has a huge decrease in his BB rate, and an increase in his K rate.  His HR % has improved over 2022, but is much lower than 2021.



Is it the advanced pitching at AA?  He is 3.4 years younger than the average Texas League player.  But that should not be a problem if he were an elite prospect.  If his 2023 BABIP was more representative of his 2022 BABIP, Cartaya’s BA would be closer to his career .242 BA.  He is undoubtedly hitting into some bad luck.   If Cartaya was hitting closer to his career BA, I do not believe there would be as much discussion.

Cartaya could still become a ML regular, maybe not with LAD.  I am still in favor of a Will Smith extension.  But Diego’s trade value has decreased similar to his prospect status.

I think this could be a lost year with Diego’s development.  Next year will be critical.  He will either resume being a prospect, or this year will not be an outlier but more typical of his expected productivity.  Does he merit the expected move to AAA or does he stay back at AA?  If he has to stay in AA, what does that do for Dalton Rushing.  Normally I would say he would need to repeat AA, but that could block Rushing and Yeiner Fernandez.

Block Rushing and Fernandez, and that blocks Thayron Liranzo and Jesus Galiz.

The offseason has a way of overcoming these blocks, so I am not overly concerned.

At 21, he is too young to give up on, and I am not about to do that.  He still has special talents.  But he no longer is the elite prospect he was deemed to be.  To prove that point, in Baseball America’s latest top 100 update, Cartaya has dropped out of their top 100 altogether.  BTW, Emmet Sheehan is the new LAD #1 prospect per BA.  He escalated from the LAD #14 prospect on BA’s pre-season list to #1 in the in-season update and #23 overall.

Diego has three weeks to put a positive finishing touch to this season.


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Cartaya has dropped out of BA’s Top 100? What was he at his highest? I believe he was at 23 last year. That’s quite a fall.

So, what happened? Back injury? Is it in his head? Whatever it is, it must be fixed. In my opinion, Rushing cannot be blocked. Cartaya has to play AAA.


At this moment in time he looks more like Smith’s backup getting as much playing time as Barnes is getting or perhaps a trade piece. He no longer looks like the heir apparent to Smith. That could certainly change. If he doesn’t take a step forward early next year then maybe a reshuffling of the catching ladder and team placement will have to be made.


He gets a pass from me. The power is still there and hopefully the defense hasn’t regressed.

Next year bump him to AAA and see what he can do.

Catching is the hardest position in baseball.


Well, maybe the hype was a little too much. He was billed as a cross between Mike Piazza & Sal Perez by the scouts. Even if he’s a fringe C1 or a studly back-up, he still has value. We’re so rich with catching prospects he can just repeat his year for us.


From what I’ve read his struggles deviate from a swing that has “gotten too long”. I don’t know anything. Is this an easy fix? A regular problem? Sometimes a result of underlying issues?


Should be Bluto. Look what Outman can do. And of course, Freddie. And Mike Trout. When you’re that big and that strong short to the ball quickly can generate incredible force. If Dodgers coaches can’t see that, and fix it, maybe some new coaching is necessary.

Fred Vogel

Turn him into a 3rd baseman.


Not sure I see this. 1B probably would be his best position if he can’t catch.

Will Smith could probably play 3B & possibly 2B.

Rushing looks like a C or 1B guy all the way.

Liranzo might be a DH.

And anyone can play LF  😉 


He has the arm for third base though.


What about the feet.


First basemen use their feet as well. I guess if someone is going to be re-positioned I would rather it be Smith to protect him from catching concussions, pun intended.


True. I just haven’t seen anywhere that said Cartaya could play 3b.


I present to you, Shohei Ohtani and JD Martinez!


Catchers have more value.

Value for the player in terms of earnings.
Value for the team in terms of positional import and scarcity.


Nice win last night. They relied on the home run and only had one hit with a runner in scoring position. Dodgers have 298 runs scored with two outs. That is far and away the best number in the majors. Nice gritty performance by Bobby Miller. Now 8-3 on the year. Kershaw-Kelly tonight. Gonsolin to have TJ surgery this week, so he is no longer a factor next year. Max over .200 now. RIP Pat Corrales. Joined Dodger front office in 2012.


How great of a pick-up is Ryan Brasier? From the trash heap to one of the best relievers in baseball. Sub 1 ERA with LA.


He’s Graterol with better command and slightly less velocity.

Singing the Blue

We’ve gotten our two best relievers off the junk heap (Phillips and Brasier). This is why AF keeps rolling the dice on bullpen guys who are cut loose by other teams.

As Forrest Gump said, “Bullpens are like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get.”


We really need [at least[ one more dependable guy for the playoffs.

I hope the solution can be found from within.

Whether it’s a current guy [Graterol?] or a rehabbing guy [Miller?] or a starter converted to relief [Pepiot?] matters not to me.


Graterol, Brasier, Vesia, Phillips, Yarbrough, Stone, Pepiot…. and others. We have options for short series’.

Singing the Blue

I’d like to see Phillips, Brasier, Graterol, Vesia, Treinen (if healthy), Shelby Miller (if healthy), plus 3 swing guys who could pitch multiple innings or in tandem (possibly Yarbrough, Pepiot plus one of Stone, Sheehan, Grove). We’ll probably go with 4 starters and a 9-man bullpen for the playoffs, or possibly even 3 and 10, depending on days off.


Please God no Treinen showing up in the postseason just in time to blow it for us. I still remember that happening in 2018 with a fringy arm who all of a sudden became Roberts’ pet.


“There’s only so much fortune a bullpen really needs, and the rest is just for showin’ off.”

Singing the Blue

With a 13 game lead, I think we need to find a topic to amuse ourselves until that lead shrinks to 10 games or less, at which point we can start to panic.

I suggest we put our collective wisdom together and deal with the uncertainty of next year’s rotation. What will the opening day 5 look like?

No May (free agent after 2025)
No Gonsolin (free agent after 2026)
Possibly no Kershaw – Free Agent
Possibly/Probably no Urias – Free Agent
Possibly/Probably no Lynn – Free Agent

Expecting Buehler to be back (free agent after 2024)
Expecting Miller to be back

Others to be considered but with minimal or no track records as MLB starters:
Pepiot, Sheehan, Stone, Grove, Knack, Frasso

Free agents to consider:
Ohtani (I’m conflicted on Shohei)
Yamamoto (Japanese star pitcher who will be posted). I vote a big “yes” based on what I’ve seen/read about him. Next year will be his age 25 season.

Some other possibilities, in alphabetical order:
Jack Flaherty
Lucas Giolito
Sonny Gray
Michael Lorenzen
Seth Lugo
Kenta Maeda
Jordan Montgomery
Aaron Nola
James Paxton
Hyun-Jin Ryu
Luis Severino
Blake Snell
Marcus Stroman

Not a spectacular group, although there are some decent pitchers in that list, Snell, Nola and Gray among them.

I kind of like the idea of bringing back old friends Maeda or Ryu as a 5th starter. They’ve gotten their arm surgeries out of the way and they were both reliable in Dodger Blue.

And then, of course, the possibility of trades.

Anyway, just a topic that ran through my head this morning. Any comments?

  1. Buehler
  2. Miller
  3. Pepiot
  4. Stone
  5. Sheehan

Let Kershaw go to Texas, watch Urias walk [and get a comp pick], refuse Lynn’s option & keep Yarbrough in the pen.


I think Snell would benefit from joining the Dodgers.

Yes to Yamamoto.

The rest we may already have.


I guess my first thought would be whether we are looking at a 6 man rotation or even maybe a piggyback system for all or part of the rotation. But first let me say the Dodgers should start by signing Yamamoto.

If Kershaw and Urias are not back, my 6 man rotation would be:

Piggyback options would include Knack, Grove, Frasso

Giolito is mostly an innings eater and #5/6 starter. I don’t want the payroll cost of Snell. I don’t think there is room for Maeda or Ryu unless some of the current pitching is traded.

May next year probably will be like Buehler is this year–a maybe for mid-September.


Knack could also be injured.

Frasso is a beast and should be ready by the deadline next year.

Grove probably should be converted to relief.


Josh Donaldson released by the Yankees. Darvish and Bichette to the IL.

Singing the Blue

I think it would be dangerous to have a piggyback system for more than one spot in the rotation.

It simply doesn’t leave enough pitchers for 1-inning slots.

Just because you set up piggyback situations doesn’t mean you only use those two guys in those games. What if one or both have a bad day. You can’t just let them keep pitching. You’d still have to bring in one (or a few) 1 inning guys. A 13-man bullpen just wouldn’t allow for that with an entire staff.


Tyler Anderson has NOT had a good year.

But good for him for using last year to set himself up for life.

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