Happy Monday. Having seen snow for the first time this winter, I think I’ve already seen enough. Inside and warmed up, let’s crank out a piece on one of the most under the radar high draft picks I can remember, one Andrew Carpenter. The Phillies selected the RHP in the second round, #65 overall, in the 2006 draft out of Long Beach State. Carpenter had one season left of eligibility after transferring in to LBSU for his junior year, but chose to sign with the Phillies for $570,000. Like many of my fellow draft/minor league junkies, this pick caught us a little off guard, as all of the drama was surrounding our selection at #18, and then taking Adrian Cardenas in the sandwich round, who was projected to go a few rounds later. At this pick, I really had no clue who the Phillies would take, though I feared they’d begin taking the toolsy outfielders like Jared Mitchell, who was rumored to be on the Phillies wishlist in the compensation round. The selection of Carpenter, a college pitcher, seemed to go against the Phillies general philosophy of taking raw, projectable high school arms, and to be honest, I didn’t know a great deal about him. Couple all of that together, and I was a bit disappointed in the pick at first, based on my own lack of knowledge on Carpenter, if nothing else.
Carpenter signed a few weeks later, but he didn’t report to any of the our minor league teams immediately, and he showed up on the GCL Phillies roster online first, which was a surprise. Most college pitchers skip right over the GCL level and head to the short season league, in the Phillies case, the New York-Penn League. Carpenter was the Saturday starter for LBSU and threw a ton of innings (117.2), but he wasn’t used in relief, which helped save some wear and tear on his arm. Nevertheless, he was shut down for quite a while after being drafted, which isn’t too uncommon, especially for the Phillies. He made two appearances with the GCL Phillies, pitching only 3 innings , giving up 0 runs, 2 hits, 0 walks and striking out 4. He was shuttled off to Batavia, where he got a little more work in, starting 3 games, pitching 11 innings, allowing 1 run, 10 hits, 5 walks, and striking out 12.
It’s obviously tough to figure out anything by looking at his brief 15 innings of work, but he did strike out 16 in 14 innings, he allowed fewer hits than innings, and walked only 5 in 15 innings. I guess that’s not bad, but the sample is so small, it’s tough to figure out what “bad” might have been. Most importantly, the Phillies handled him carefully because of the college workload, and he didn’t appear to pick up any knocks, so he should be ready to go in 2007. At this point, I have him projected to start at Clearwater, but I really am not confident in that guess. The Lakewood rotation looks to be quite crowded, with Drabek, Garcia, Pfinsgraff, Brauer, Concepcion, and Dubee all likely candidates, as well as Andrew Cruse and possibly Walter Tejeda. Considering Carpenter’s polish, it makes sense that they’d skip him to Clearwater over any of those other names, age and experience considered.
Now, to what Carpenter actually throws. He features a low 90’s fastball that he locates well, as well as a hard slider and a split finger fastball, both of which grade out to be slightly above average pitches. He also used a curveball in college and a changeup at times, but both are average offerings, and he’ll probably scrap his curveball going forward and focus on just the slider. His changeup will probably need the most work, but his splitter will help neutralize LH batters. The Phillies considered him a “safe” pick on one hand, because he lacks true dominant stuff that would project him to be a front of the rotation starter, but because of his durability, his solid pitching aptitude, and his array of pitches, he might be a bit better than an innings-eater at the back of the rotation. He doesn’t have the electric fastball/curveball combination of Kyle Drabek, but he does have more experience, a better understanding for pitching (at this point), and much more polish, which makes him a safer bet going forward, just not the #1 starter potential of Drabek.
Carpenter is an interesting guy to watch, because really, he has been under the radar. If his combination of stuff and approach to the game translate well, he could become a good #2/#3 starter at some point down the road. He’s probably going to get a full season at High A this year, start at AA next year, and then possibly make a case for ML action in 2009, maybe even near the end of 2008, depending on how things go. His worst case right now is as a power reliever, his best case is the aforementioned #2/#3 starter.
Let’s see if that works. If not (I think it messed up the formatting earlier) I’ll just post the URL link. He shows his fastball, reaching 96, as well as his splitter.