The road from top prospect to big leaguer is not always a straight line.
Catcher Diego Cartaya entered 2023 as the No. 18 prospect in baseball but stumbled badly in making the jump to Double-A Tulsa. He hit .189/.278/.379 with 19 home runs in 93 games.
His 29% strikeout rate was his highest in four pro seasons since signing out of Venezuela in 2018. His 9% walk rate was his lowest.
“It was really surprising to us,” Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said. “He is among the better makeup players I’ve ever been around.
“And almost in a way that hurt him last year in how much he wore his struggles, how badly he wanted to get out of it—almost in a counter-productive way. Trying too hard. Doing too much. And at such a demanding position.”
Friedman said a downward spiral took over as Cartaya lost touch with his swing.
“His mechanics got out of whack. And it just became a vicious, imperfect storm,” Friedman said. “A vicious cycle of just bad habits and the difficulty of breaking that. And the physical toll of catching. All of it combined.”
The Dodgers were still satisfied with the progress Cartaya made defensively, according to general manager Brandon Gomes.
“I know his offensive year wasn’t where he would’ve hoped, but he took major strides in game-planning and receiving and throwing and leading pitchers’ meetings and understanding how to lead a staff,” Gomes said, “which are all incredibly important, and are some intangibles that you want to see out of catchers.”
Friedman predicts a bounceback year from the catcher in 2024, when Cartaya will be 22.
“He’s a really naturally talented player who is coming off a really down year,” Friedman said. “I’ve seen it a lot in the past with really good players—the ones who had really good makeup bounced back from that.
“So it wouldn’t surprise me at all if Diego comes out this year and has a really good year.”
— The Dodgers added two former big leaguers to their front office this winter. Nelson Cruz has been hired as a special adviser and will primarily work with prospects at the organization’s Dominican Republic complex. Chris Archer has been hired as a special assistant in the baseball operations department. The former pitcher said he hopes to be involved in multiple areas as he decides on a post-playing career path.
— Among the minor league free agents signed by the Dodgers this winter…