Diego Cartaya burst onto the scene in the Los Angeles Dodgers farm system in 2021. Cartaya was instantly living up to the hype placed on him when the Dodgers signed him as the top international free agent in 2018 at just 16 years old.
Cartaya was instantly thrust into the top prospect spot in the Dodgers system and was quickly climbing the ranks of top overall prospects in the sport. Heading into the 2023 season, Cartaya was widely considered to be a top-20 prospect in baseball.
That's no longer the case as things sit in August. Cartaya, who is struggling in AA with a .630 OPS and 29% strikeout rate, has started to tumble down both the MLB and Dodgers' prospect ladder. Cartaya is no longer the top prospect in LA's farm system, at least according to MLB Pipeline.
Baseball America is even harsher, as the outlet has left Cartaya outside of its updated top 100 altogether. Emmet Sheehan (24), Dalton Rushing (51), Gavin Stone (69) and Michael Busch (74) are the only Dodgers prospects on BA's top 100.
Of course, there's plenty of time for Cartaya to turn it around, and just because he's struggling this season doesn't mean Dodgers fans should give up on him. However, his struggles this season definitely could have had an impact on the team's chances to win the World Series in 2023.
Diego Cartaya's unexpected slide hurt the Dodgers' trade deadline
The Dodgers got slammed by the fanbase and analysts after the 2023 trade deadline. Granted, it looks better in hindsight as the reclamation projects have played well in a small sample size, but the team still did not add the big name many were hoping for.
The biggest name the team would have added, Eduardo Rodriguez, blocked a trade to the Dodgers. Rodriguez is a solid player, but many fans still weren't happy that he was the biggest name the team tried trading for; especially when the likes of Dylan Cease were reportedly on the market.
To be fair, there was less talent available on the trade market in 2023 than in previous years. That being said, Cartaya's struggles and slide definitely had an impact on the prospects that the team was likely willing to give up.
First of all, it never made sense to trade Cartaya. Trading him in 2023 would have been irresponsible as his value is much lower than it was a year ago (and hopefully than it will be a year from now). The worst thing a team can do is sell a top prospect at a discounted price because of current struggles just to recoup some of the value.
Additionally, this made it harder to part ways with another top prospect, Dalton Rushing, who was a popular name that every Dodgers fan threw into mock trades because of Cartaya. But now, Rushing is the top catcher in the Dodgers' system. Fans who intently followed the farm system, and didn't just look at rankings, knew that trading Rushing in 2023 because of Cartaya's presence was silly. The team knew that as well.
That took two of the most valuable prospects that the Dodgers have off the board. Could the team have worked out something involving Michael Busch and/or Gavin Stone? Sure. But it's hard to blame other teams for being lower on those guys after they both struggled at the MLB level.
Had Cartaya at least maintained production from last season, the 2023 deadline could've been very different for the Dodgers.