I’m sure many fans are trying to figure out what the Mariners have in Vinnie Catricala, as am I. He had another big day Sunday in High Desert’s 9-6 win over Lake Elsinore with two doubles and five runs batted in. He is now hitting .361 with 15 doubles, 14 homers and 58 RBIs. Catricala’s on-base percentage is .428 and he’s slugging .592, giving him a 1.020 OPS.
Ah, but it’s High Desert, where all the numbers are inflated, making it very hard to figure out who is for real and who is just a product of a ballpark that’s nearly 3,000 feet above sea level and a notorious launching pad in a league full of them.
But Catricala, who is 22 years old, 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds, a 10th-round pick in the 2009 draft out of the University of Hawaii, hit well in Rookie A Pulaski in 2009 (.301, eight homers, 40 RBI, .363 on-base, .493 slugging in 90 games) and in Class A Clinton last year (.302, 17 homers, 79 RBIs, .366 on-base, .488 slugging in 135 games).
The Mariners, it appears, are still trying to figure out what his position is. This season, he’s played 23 games at first, 28 at third, and five in the outfield.
Here’s what Pedro Grifol, the Mariners’ director of minor-league operations, said about Catricala, a right-handed hitter, last week when I talked to him:
“This kid can hit. He’s a .300 hitter in the minors. He had 40 doubles last year (41 to be exact. He’s a big kid with good bat speed, strong and quick, good balance, good rhythm. He’s not a High Desert fluke.”
Grifol feels the same about Dennis Raben, a left-handed-hitting first baseman who is batting .318 at High Desert with 17 homers, 68 RBIs, a .369 on-base percentage and .587 slugging percentage (.956 OPS).
“Everyone is going to say, ‘High Desert,’ but these guys can hit,” Grifol said. “They are two kids who are big and strong with good plate discipline and good pitch recognition. They have the package to continue their success. Maybe not at that rate, but they have the package to continue to develop.”