=== Keep One Point, Dept. ===
In a single game watching Catricala, you can oooooh and aaaaah at the aiki-esque way in which he absorbs the baseball into his one point, his CG, his belly button.
This goes far beyond "using two hands." It is the right way to organize your entire body correctly --- > around the incoming energy. It's the right way to glue your perception to the unpredictable things that the baseball will often do. Using your CG in sports is the right way to glue your mind to the action, and the right way to deliver power to the unpredictable moment.
Catricala, when playing defense, is not fighting the game. He wants the ball to be hit his way, or is at least expecting it to be hit his way. Keep One Point is the single most important principle in baseball defense.
=== Pattern Recognition ===
Sorry to say, the weakness in Catricala's game looks like it's going to be "lack of instincts."
You put Omar Vizquel and Jack Wilson at the other end of this scale. Not only do they see each in-between hop as the batter swings, they seem to be able to choose between three different humorous ways to take each hop. And if they have to make something up, as Wilson's stupid kick-the-bag DP last year from 2B, they enjoy doing it.
Without a doubt, it is the stiff mechanical way in which Catricala reads the hops, that had scouts writing him off.
But that's a superficial assessment.
=== Agility ===
I was stunned. Catricala is not Kevin Youkilis, or Mark Trumbo, or even Mark Reynolds. He's not even Jim Presley.
Catricala is totally light on his feet, moves around as easily as Dustin Ackley, and looks positively NIMBLE on the infield. If he weren't built like a first baseman, you would almost think he'd been moved from SS. Except that he's not fast over long distances, of course.
=== Arm ===
Would somebody please tell me why Catricala throws like that - like a QB throwing the ball to a running back four yards away. Did he throw too hard and injure somebody one time, or something?
Anyway, he's confident throwing with no followthru, using the little SS-DP flip even to 1B, and yesterday he was deadly accurate with it. Even under pressure.
=== Dr's Diagnosis ===
Earlier, SSI had opined that it would be all right if Catricala were confident and ineffective, but not if he were scared and unreliable. Major league teams don't need to be worrying about their third baseman as the pitch is thrown, worrying that something pathetic is going to occur.
If Catricala had cringed at the ball, if he'd played it off his hip, if he'd been scared out there, I'd have been the first one to say, Nahh. That's not what occurred. Vinnie played a major league third base, except that he does not have the gifts that a glove-first player has.
There's one caveat. I haven't seen him dive for a ball down the line. Maybe he's got the yips on those, or something. I simply presume that if he were fatally flawed on the backhand, Wedge might have noticed a thing like that, and he wouldn't still be at 3B every day in camp.
(Edit to add, this play seems to be his strongest. Here's a video.)
Catricala isn't a natural 3B, but he enjoys the game just fine there, and he works at it. He might make 25 errors because of the bad reads, but he'll also get to some extra grounders in the hole because he's young and mobile.
If he's -10 runs, it will be the right kind of -10 runs, the kind where you go, "Oh, well, we've got a bat at third." Not the kind where you go, "Poor kid, hope he doesn't let it get him down."
Jack Zduriencik is famous for his attitude: You can get better playing infield in the majors. Vinnie Catricala is absolutely the textbook case of that. A kid with a good attitude, good tools, who needs some experience.
Catricala could go to Tacoma, and in a month or two he would see 50 more bouncing balls in game situations, than he would if you brought him up now. He's played 3B his whole life. Question: why are these next 50 going to be the critical 50? Hint: they ain't.
It's my team, Vinnie Catricala's glove has shown me a lot more than he'd needed to show. Put him In Safeco Right Now.