Albert Cartwright hasn’t caught since high school. The 27-year-old has spent the last six-plus seasons in the Astros and Phillies organizations shuffling between second base, center field and left field.
However, the Dodgers have signed Cartwright to a minor-league contract with the opportunity of becoming a catcher again, either full-time or part-time. Cartwright’s contract does not include an invitation to major-league spring training.
The Dodgers have already improved their depth at the catcher position considerably this winter. Incumbent A.J. Ellis is expected to split time at the major-league level with Yasmani Grandal. Highly touted prospect Austin Barnes and veteran Ali Solis could begin the season at Triple-A. Two other catchers with major-league camp invitations, Shawn Zarraga and Chris O’Brien, have at least three years’ experience in the minor leagues behind the plate. Twenty-four year-old prospect Kyle Farmer, an eighth-round draft pick in 2013, finished last season at High-A Rancho Cucamonga.
It remains to be seen where Cartwright will fit into this mix. He slashed .243/.295/.315 last season for the Phillies’ Double-A affiliate. If his bat doesn’t improve, Cartwright’s best opportunity for promotion might come if he can establish himself as a utility player who can catch — a coveted defensive profile. If his bat does improve, well, who knows.
Some more background on Cartwright:
• Listed at 5-foot-10 and 180 pounds, Cartwright is about the size of a young Ivan Rodriguez. Unlike Rodriguez, Cartwright had the speed to steal 20 bases four of the last five seasons, each at Single-A or Double-A.
• Cartwright was traded from the Astros to the Phillies in January 2011 for reliever Sergio Escalona. Escalona pitched in 49 games for Houston that year but hasn’t pitched at any level in North America since 2013.
• Cartwright’s Twitter page lists his hometown as Nassau, Bahamas. His MiLB.com page lists Winter Haven, Bahamas as his place of birth. Few players born in the Bahamas have reached the major leagues, the last being Antoan Richardson.