The Future Is Unwritten: Albert Cartwright Scouting Report
Every piece of an organization is important, especially when your roster is shallow and old enough that injuries and poor play mean Michael Martinez spends nearly a fifth of the season on your big league roster. Marginal improvements, even deep in the annals of the organizational depth chart, can impact your big league club in some way if things break right. Roster expansion in September means teams can utilize players who were wholly insignificant during the season in ways that their most prominent skills can impact the game. Francisco Rodriguez for the Angels in 2002, Franklin Morales for the Rockies in 2007, Dan Johnson for Tampa in 2011, Billy Hamilton for the Reds this year, there’s a long list of guys dripping with anonymity that were called up late in the year or forced up due to injury that have contributed to the cause. Or at least were good enough that they didn’t irreparably damage the cause. That’s why today I’d like to take a look at an unglamorous but interesting player named Albert Cartwright.
Albert Cartwright spent the entire 2013 season in Reading as a 25 year old second baseman. I know that you probably reacted to that opening sentence with boredom and disgust, and that’s fine, I realize he’s pretty old for the level and I acknowledge that. I’m not here to tell you that Albert Cartwright is a future All Star or even that he’s an everyday player or anything remotely close to that. I’m here to profile a player who I think has enough skill to one day button down a Major League uniform and contribute in a couple different ways should he be asked to do so. That’s more than we can say about as many as ten players who wore a Phillies uniform this year.
Cartwright may be old for his level but at least he has a good reason for it. He reached Double-A in 2010 at the age of 22 after hitting .319/.381/.551 in 92 games for Class-A Lancaster (Cal League, baby) while a member of the Houston Astros organization. Prior to the 2011 season, Cartwright was traded to the Phillies in exchange for Sergio Escalona and ruptured his Achillies tendon less than a week into his first Spring Training with the Phils. He lost all of the 2011 season to that injury, no doubt stunting his development at an imperative age. Two season s later and he’s back to Double-A. This year in Reading, Cartwright’s torrid first few months earned him an Eastern League All-Star nod before he faltered in the second half.
Despite lackluster numbers, there are some interesting tools here. Cartwright stands all of 5’10” and weighs in at a stocky and strong 180lbs. A tightly wound ball of muscle, Cartwright has a little to no physical projection remaining. He’ll show you plus run times from home to first and his chief asset has always been his legs which don’t seem to have been permanently damaged by that Achilles tear.
Offensively, there’s a little bit to go on. Cartwright is short to the ball, has a nicely leveraged swing and a little bit of bat speed but will collapse his back side once in a while, loads a little too deep for his own good at times and exhibits noise in his footwork despite the simplicity of his stride. His swing is very handsy and he doesn’t rotate his hips or use his lower half very much to drive the ball, what little power he generates all comes from the raw strength in his upper body. I have a 40 on the bat right now with a chance for it to improve half a grade if some things get cleaned up. The more I look at that 40 the more charitable I feel. I have the power a half grade below the hit on both counts. Again, let me see some more flexibility in the hips, please.
Defensively, I really like Cartwright’s versatility. He’d been a second baseman for his entire pro career (and is just fine there) but was forced into action as an outfielder when personnel issues dictated it late in the 2013 season. He looked pretty comfortable in left field and played some games in center as well, none of which I was able to see in person. We know from watching Cesar Hernandez try to transition to center that this is a process that, if it’s going to stick at all, often takes time. The way Cartwright took to left field is certainly encouraging. With an average arm, above average range and fringe average actions, Cartwright plays a viable second base with some fundamental issues that he makes up for with athleticism. If he can be competent at second, in leftfield and centerfield and hit a little bit while providing value on the bases then there are worse guys to have in your system as organizational depth. Eric Young Jr. has a similar skill set (but with more pure speed than Cartwright) and physical profile. I see Cartwright in a analogous, albeit lesser mold. Certainly I think for a three or four year stretch as he enters his prime he’ll be a better, more explosive option than Michael Martinez, Mike Fontenot, Hector Luna and those like them have been for the past few season.