Wednesday, November 3, 2010
Arizona Fall League Scouting Report: Chris Carpenter
From: Kent State (3rd round of 2008 draft)
Carpenter was drafted out of high school in the 7th round of the 2004 draft by the Tigers but decided to go to college. Carpenter had Tommy John surgery during his freshman season at Kent State, then had another elbow procedure his sophomore year. His medical history is a big reason he fell to the Cubs in the third round in the ’08 draft.
Carpenter has pitched almost exclusively as a starter during his career, but he is working out of the bullpen in the AFL and I really like what I saw from him as a reliever. While Carpenter has not been told that the Cubs plan a move to the pen, I’d anticipate a phone call soon if I were Chris.
His four-seam fastball sits between 91-94mph as a starter and was mostly 95-97mph as a reliever. A few days after I left, Caprenter reportedly touched 100mph with his heater. It doesn’t have a lot of movement on it but his height allows him to pitch on a pretty extreme downward plane which makes it tough to elevate. It will induce plenty of weak grounders.
Carpenter’s secondary stuff needs work. He has an 82-85 mph breaking ball that looks like a slider, but Carpenter actually calls it a curveball so we’ll call it a slurve. It is inconsistent and it movement isn’t always as sharp and devastating as you would like to see, and his command of it is inconsistent.
He also throws a straight changeup that with velocity in the mid to high 80s but it’s not a very good pitch. He’ll need to work on that soon or run the risk of lefties making him pay at the big league level.
There’s a little bit of effort in Carpenter’s delivery (that’s to be expected from a guy who touches 100mph on the radar gun) and its possible it may have been the cause of his elbow trouble in the past. Carpenter hasn't had any injury problems since turning pro so maybe he’s past the injury bug for good. Carpenter needs to repeat his delivery better, and his inability to do so causes him to struggle with control in spurts. His front foot doesn’t always land in the same spot. Sometimes it land toward the third base side of the plate and he has to throw across his body to get the ball to the plate. This probably isn’t good for his arm.
He posted a 2.82 ERA and a 118-to-52 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 130 2/3 innings across two levels in 2009, and a 3.41 ERA and 112-to-57 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 134 2/3 innings, mostly at Double-A, this year. I’d like to see the walks come down a bit.
Carpenter could stick as a starter if he improves his secondary stuff and working as a starter will allow him to pitch more innings and do so. However, his injury history, tendency to get wild, and lack of secondary pitches at age 24 tell me he is destined for the bullpen, albeit high leverage innings therefrom.
Future MLB Comparison: Jon Rauch