BLUF: Lack of command/control leaves him short of high leverage relief profile; possible middle relief candidate.
The Player: Chris Carpenter (RHP, Boston Red Sox) – A third round pick of the Cubs in 2008, Carpenter is the compensation heading to the Red Sox in exchange for Theo Epstein’s departure to Wrigley Field. Carpenter moved slowly through the Cubs system since being drafted, posting a cumulative 3.62 ERA across every level of the minor leagues. He made his MLB debut in 2011, allowing 12 hits in 9.2 innings, walking seven and striking out eight. He was already an alumnus of Tommy John surgery upon being drafted but has largely remained healthy since signing.
Body: Tall and lanky with long levers and a lot to control in his delivery. Narrow, sloping shoulders that fit his thin frame. Has room to add strength but has never done so, unlikely to bulk up at this point.
Makeup: Doesn’t show a ton of emotion whether things are going well or poorly on the mound. All reports are that he gets his work in without question and generally has good makeup.
Delivery/Mechanics: Lots of arms and legs that he struggles to control. Gets moving too fast at times and then gets out of whack trying to catch up. Arm action isn’t great but works for him and generates plus arm speed. Needs consistent release point and landing foot.
Fastball (FB) Velocity (Wind-up): High – 101, Low – 91, Average – 94-96, Grade – 70/70
Fastball (FB) Velocity (Stretch): High – 100, Low 92, Average 94-95, Grade – 70/70
Fastball (FB) Movement: Only throws a four-seam FB and has plus life on it, particularly when down in the zone. Grade – 60/60
Overall Fastball: Overall plus to plus-plus pitch with good hop at the plate and tough velocity. Needs consistency to be true plus-plus pitch. Grade – 60/70
Slider (SL): Ranges from well below-average to above-average. Doesn’t always stay on top of it, allowing it to get loose, sloppy and hittable at times. When on, shows tight SL spin with good bite and potential to miss bats. Grade – 40/50
Change-up (CH): Well below-average with little feel or movement on the pitch. Doesn’t trust and will slow arm to reduce speed rather than relying on grip. Likely won’t use in relief. Grade – 30/30
Control: Inconsistent mechanics and release point lead to frequent problems throwing strikes. Will have occasional spurts where his FB finds the zone regularly, but too often works up in the zone, making him more hittable. Marginal athlete that is tough to project for better than average strike-throwing ability. Grade – 30/40
Command: Almost no command at this point. Once in a while he can push the FB down in the zone when he wants to, but that is rare. Difficulty throwing strikes in general hurts command projection. Little hope for significant improvement. Has and will continue to hold him back as a prospect. Grade – 20/30
Summation: Inability to throw strikes hampers long term projection. Has pure velocity and potential for above-average SL to have ceiling as a setup man. More of a hard-throwing middle reliever without better command/control. Small window for MLB success given age and propensity for walking hitters.
Relative Risk: High. Despite proximity to the big leagues, his command/control profile makes him an extremely high risk proposition.
Future: With the move to the Red Sox, may not get as many chances to work in the big leagues in 2012 as he would have with a rebuilding Cubs squad. He will likely spend the bulk of the season in Double-A or Triple-A trying to refine his mechanics, and thereby his control. If the Red Sox need help in the middle innings he could get a chance to fill that role with his plus-plus velocity. Not much long term projection for him and he will need to seize any future MLB opportunities he gets.