April 7, 2008 | By Alex Eisenberg
In what was a breakout year in 2006, Carlos Carrasco saw his K% jump by 8.8%, from 15.9 to 24.7. His BB-rate did increase slightly, but the overall command was much better. His BABIP against improved from .357 to .242. Even his GB% jumped from 42% to 50%, which also helped lower his HR rate from an unhealthy 1.58 to a very solid .34. All this at the age of 19.
Promoted to A+ Clearwater in 2007, Carrasco mildly regressed. The K% dropped, but he saw an improvement in his overall control. Also, despite just a small drop in GB%, his HR-rate climbed to over 1.
Though not overly impressive with his numbers at Clearwater, the Phillies promoted him to AA Reading anyway. Not unexpectedly, he struggled. His BB% soared to over 14% as his command faltered. His K% dropped to his pre-2006 levels and his GB% dropped all the way to 36%.
If the Phillies wanted to kill the confidence of a young pitcher, this was certainly the way.
Fastball - ranges anywhere from 91 - 96 mph with movement that he struggles to command. The velocity he generates is pretty effortless. Usually, the less velocity he generates, the more movement he has.
Change-up - can be a plus-pitch at times, but he is inconsistent with it. A problem I notice is Carrasco not selling his off-speed pitches as effectively as he could. Carrasco seems to slow his arm down for off-speed pitches, especially his change-up.
Curveball - looks like it can be an above average pitch, but again there are consistency issues. Like the change-up, he doesn't sell the pitch. He looks like he is guiding the pitch into the catcher's mitt, so the pitch lacks serious bite at times. Also, when a pitcher finishes a pitch with intent, meaning they look like they are trying to throw the ball hard, the batter reacts to that intent and not the actual velocity of the pitch. Fooling a batter with an off-speed pitch becomes much harder when the intent to throw hard is replaced by what looks like a pitcher guiding the pitch into the glove.
The first thing I notice is that Carrasco is too upright in his delivery. Ideally you should be in a more compact, together, and athletic position. This could be a reason why Carrasco struggles to repeat his delivery. It has a stiff look to it and the ability to consistently repeat his delivery would be helped by adopting a more athletic position during his wind-up.
Now, there is a clear difference in how Carrasco pitches with men on base and none on. Let's spell it out:
None On - 7.57 K/9, 3.95 BB/9, .99 HR/9, .847 OPS
Men On - 5.52 K/9, 4.06 BB/9, 2.32 HR/9, 1.015 OPS
None On - 10.43 K/9, 3.41 BB/9, .29 HR/9, .467 OPS
Men On - 6.54 K/9, 3.55 BB/9, .43 HR/9, .613 OPS
None On - 7.96 K/9, 2.65 BB/9, .96 HR/9, .619 OPS
Men On - 5.87 K/9, 3.13 BB/9, 1.57 HR/9, .752 OPS
None On - 6.68 K/9, 6.68 BB/9, .53 HR/9, .711 OPS
Men On - 6.29 K/9, 5.50 BB/9, 1.83 HR/9, .848 OPS
The numbers make it clear: Carrasco is significantly better with no men on. This could be a mental thing or a confidence issue. But it could also be a mechanical issue. Baseball America said this:
"When he’d get into trouble, he’d rush through his delivery with his lower half and drag his arm behind his body. That would cause his front shoulder to fly open, costing him command."
Carrasco's tempo is much faster out of the stretch than it is out of the wind-up. A way to stay back a little would be to adopt a higher leg kick out of the stretch. His numbers show a pitcher that not only loses some command out of the stretch, but also loses some oomph to his stuff. Carrasco becomes more hittable and easier to make contact against.
On the plus side, Carrasco has excellent arm speed. He breaks his hands late, which helps him hide the ball and lets the elbow pick up the ball. He shows excellent separation between his torso and his hips and as he steps into foot plant, the torso and arm uncoil toward home plate. Given his projectable body, and already effortless velocity, I don't think it is a stretch to say Carrasco may be able to pick up a couple more mph on his fastball.
Instead of one big problem that Carrasco has to work on, it is a bunch of smaller mechanical/consistency issues he must work on. He got off to a good start in AA with a 5 inning, 7 K and 2 BB performance. Hopefully, he will build on that start.
He has the potential to have two plus pitches and another above average offering. But much work needs to be done. Let him develop his pitches, continue to tweak his mechanics, and don't rush him before he is ready.
The most realistic scenario for Carrasco is as a #3/4 starter, but the capability to breakout in a big way is still a possibility.
8 Upside, Low Probability
6.5 Mid-Level, Low-Average Probability
5 Downside, Low-Average Probability
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