Dusty Bergman, who pitched one inning for the Angels in 2004, was the last player from the University of Hawaii to reach the majors. Vinnie Catricala, a 2009 10th-round pick of Seattle, is bidding to be the next.
Catricala popped his second homer of the spring Monday against the Rangers. A corner infielder and outfielder, he’s 6-for-19 in seven appearances to date.
Catricala was one of the best hitters in the minors last season, coming in at .349/.421/.601 with 25 homers and 106 RBI between Single-A High Desert and Double-A Jackson. High Desert is well known as one of the top three or five offensive environments in the minors, but Catricala actually improved in Double-A, finishing with a 1.052 OPS in his 62 games for Jackson.
Still something of a man without a position, Catricala played 54 games at third base, 34 at first base and 32 in left field last year. The Mariners have given him time at both third base and left field this spring. He’s not viewed as a realistic candidate to make the team now, but given the uncertainty that the team faces at both positions, it’s not unrealistic to think he could be starting somewhere come July.
Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has been diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports. Kipnis has received a cortisone shot and will be shut down from throwing for the next four to five days.
There’s a lot of spring left, so it’s perfectly sensible for the Indians to play it safe with their star player. The club already had Kipnis on a shoulder strengthening program.
Kipnis, 29, helped the Indians to the playoffs after batting .275/.343/.469 with 23 home runs, 92 RBI, 91 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 688 plate appearances during the regular season last year. He then helped the Indians reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs, where they were eventually stopped, as he provided a .741 OPS including four homers and eight RBI in 15 playoff games.
According to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Cardinals are keeping an eye on outfield prospect Luis Robert. The 19-year-old left his native Cuba last November and is expected to command interest from multiple MLB teams as he approaches free agency. Goold adds that the Cardinals sent scouts to evaluate Robert’s workouts in the Dominican Republic as recently as last week.
There’s still a good chance that the club won’t get a shot at signing him; as Craig mentioned last month, it seems likely that Major League Baseball won’t declare Robert a free agent until after June 15. By July 2, the new Collective Bargaining Agreement’s policies on international bonuses will go into effect, handcuffing teams with the maximum penalty for bonuses to a $300,000 signing figure for any available international prospect. It’s designed to effectively take away those teams’ abilities to sign additional international talent, and the Cardinals have already spent a reported $9.35 million in bonuses on Venezuelan outfielder Victor Garcia, Cuban outfielders Jonatan Machado and Randy Arozarena and Cuban right-hander Johan Oviedo.
Until the cutoff in mid-June, the Cardinals are likely to continue actively scouting other international talent, including Robert. MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez quotes an anonymous National League scouting director who describes Robert as the No. 2 talent behind Japanese wunderkind Shohei Otani. The 19-year-old hit .286/.319/.397 with a .716 OPS during a 16-game run in the Canadian-American League in 2016, following up an impressive three-year tenure with the Ciego de Avila in the Cuban National Series from 2013-2015.