Baseball America is rolling out their League Top 20′s, and both Carlos Carrasco and Josh Outman made the list at #6 and #14 respectively in the FSL, while Kyle Kendrick and Mike Costanzo made the Easter League Top 20. Check the list here and here. Kendrick’s inclusion has to be an oversight, as he clearly broke the innings limit that BA places on it’s qualified guys.
Carrasco is a long ways from a finished product, but he does have a pair of major league pitches. He throws a plus fastball that sits at 91-92 mph and touches 95 with good life, as well as a quality changeup. His mechanics are nearly picture-perfect, as he looks like he’s throwing an easy side session while popping 92s and 93s.
Carrasco’s biggest concern is his consistency. When he begins a game with good stuff, he usually leaves hitters helpless. But when he doesn’t, he has yet to show the savvy to win with less than his best. He tries to overthrow, which results in him leaving vulnerable fastballs up in the strike zone.
He also needs to refine his curveball. Carrasco shows some feel for it and occasionally snaps off a plus bender, but he struggles to locate it.
With Outman, it’s all about control. He struggles at times to control his fastball, which explains why ranked among the minor league leaders with 77 walks in 159 innings. At times he struggles to control his emotions, which explains why he overthrows and is prone to big innings and bad outings.
But there’s also a lot to like about the lefty, who led the league with a 2.45 ERA and earned a promotion to Double-A. Outman’s fastball sits at 92-94 mph and he pairs it with an 84-87 mph slider. He’s working on a changeup that still has a ways to go.
A good athlete, Outman has reworked his mechanics and developed a more conventional delivery since turning pro. He also has added some deception, as he now hides the ball much longer, and his fastball has picked up some life. One manager who saw him in low Class A in 2006 said has made significant strides since last year
Kendrick never had pitched above Class A prior to 2007, but he entered the postseason as the Phillies’ Game Two starter, and his 3.87 ERA ranked second among their starters. He got started down that path in the EL, as he harnessed his command and stopped trying to pitch up in the strike zone with his fastball and down with his slider.
The athletic Kendrick repeats his delivery, pumps his two-seam sinker to the bottom of the zone and spots his harder, low-90s four-seamer down and away. He also has a hard slider that’s more of a groundball pitch than a strikeout offering. His changeup plays up because he locates it well.
“He realized strikeouts are over-rated,” Reading manager P.J. Forbes said. “He’s pitching at the knees and when he misses, he misses down. He made hitters hit his pitch, because his command was that good. To give up just three home runs, playing in our ballpark, that’s all about executing your pitches, and he did.”
Costanzo finished second to Larish with 27 homers despite a horrific start. For the second straight year, he finished with a flourish, hitting .358 with eight home runs in the final month. He earned comparisons to Russell Branyan for his prodigious lefthanded power and erratic play at third base, where he committed 34 errors.
Costanzo evokes Branyan also for his strikeouts (157 in 508 at-bats), and his grooved swing will continue to produce holes that pitchers at advanced levels can exploit. He has the athletic ability to adjust and the raw power to hit homers even without squaring up the ball, but he must show the ability to make more adjustments and lay off pitches he can’t hit.
Defensively, Costanzo has the tools to play third, most notably a plus arm. But he has yet to make the adjustments that would make him an average defender. He lacks consistent footwork, and scouts question his agility and infield actions.
Not surprisingly, I have to disagree with PJ Forbes here. Strikeouts are not overrated, and they are a good indicator of future success. I was mildly surprised that Donald didn’t make the back end of the list on either the SAL or the FSL Top 20, but I guess it’s because BA still doesn’t view him as more than a fringe regular in the majors. So far, our representation looks like this
Joe Savery, #2 NYPL
Dominic Brown, #15 NYPL
Adrian Cardenas, #13 SAL
Carlos Carrasco, #6 FSL
Josh Outman, #14 FSL
Kyle Kendrick, #14 EAS
Mike Costanzo, #19, EAS