A reliever from the 41st round has made Mark a believer...I like him, too.
Physical Stats: 6'1" 195 lbs.
Position: Relief Pitcher
Drafted: 41st round 2005, College of Southern Idaho
Current Team: St. Lucie Mets (Hi-A Florida State League)
Carr is big bulky relief pitcher who relies on low-mid 90s heat to miss bats and consistently generate groundballs. Actually a few months younger than Eric Beaulac, Carr has also been moved to the bullpen this year. In many respects, he's similar to Beaulac, in that he works mostly off his fastball and uses a slider as his primary second pitch, and the knock on him is command troubles. However he's shorter and thicker around the middle than Beaulac, and when he's right generates more natural "run" on his fastball, though his slider lags behind a bit and his command has been a more problematic. He also features a hard changeup that flashes average and should be a fine third pitch for a relief prospect. His progress has been a bit on the slow side, but it's also been quite steady, and most of the last big hurdles for Carr to cross mechanical ones. Oddly enough, he's been MIA since mid-June, though I can't find a specific report of injury.
Sadly this video was all I could find on Carr, and while it's not ideal let's check it out:
Carr works quickly, pitching with almost a slide-step out of the stretch. His tempo is good as a result, but his delivery and path to the plate is a bit odd.
He only really lifts his leg slightly higher than that before pulling the ball out of the glove Stokes-style and driving forward.
Then, with his foot planted, he slings his arm across his body, causing him to fall toward first base. This slinging-motion explains some of control problems. It also allows Carr to generate velocity, albeit not particularly efficiently. It comes as little surprise, then, that Carr has trouble disguising his changeup, due to varying arm-speeds. He also finishes with a little recoil, which some people identify as an injury risk, but I don't really buy into that.
While the high BB% is discouraging, the fact that he's continued to miss bats throughout his FSL tenure is also very encouraging. Because his problems are primarily mechanical the movement on both his fastball and his slider can be inconsistent, ranging between plus and below average from outing-to-outing. He also has a tendency to slow down his armspeed on changeups. These are still problems that are correctable natural development though. If he can wrangle his command in, everything could fall into place very nicely, and he could become a nice option for a Major League bullpen in short order. His ERA and HR/FB in the pitcher friendly FSL does mask his true current ability a bit, but remember, he's actually a bit younger than Beaulac. Keep an eye on his BB% the rest of this year and next. If it starts to tick up, his strong FSL aided ERA should be more of a quirk than a troubling sign.
The great paradoxes of Carr's statistical profile this season is that, while his walks have increased, he's maintained his high strikeout rate with more called-strike threes (although it's mostly an issue of sample size). Some pitchers walk more when they reach higher levels because hitters are making more contact, taking their pitches outside the zone, and working deeper counts, but that doesn't seem to be the case with Carr, who continues to get the K's. The groundballs are also encouraging, and his tRA is actually lower than his FIP at 3.77. As Mark noted, though, the FSL is a pitcher's league (3.95 avg. tRA) and the real stat to watch is the walks.
Fun With Comparisons
Scott Boras Says Derek Carty suggests:
The Texas shutdown closer moved about the same speed through the minors as Carr is now, with his BB/9 rising steadily as he went. For his minor league career, he had a 4.8 BB/9 but a 9.8 K/9, and looked trapped in the minors at age 24, unable to get his walk rate under 5. Then, thanks to some good cup-of-coffee showings, he got a shot and showed demonstrable improvement every year in the majors. At age 28, he lowered his BB/9 to 3.7 and this year it's down to 2.6. He's a late bloomer, sure, but a shutdown closer.
Impartial Observer says:
Nick Carr has yet to post the strikeout numbers of Frank Francisco, though, and has demonstrated marginally better control. That description fits Fernando Rodney well, a player who basically carried a Nick-Carr skill-set all the way to the majors. Rodney is a very inconsistent reliever year-to-year largely due to his fluctuating control, and that's probably the type-of-reliever Carr will be, if he reaches the majors.
Steve Phillips says:
Derrick Turnbow (2008 version)
Turnbow, like Rodney, posted peripherals very similar to Carr in the low minors before finally getting a chance with Milwaukee in 2005, a year he posted a 1.74 ERA and went to the all-star game. That would be an optimal outcome for Carr, but I'm not talking about that Derrick Turnbow. The Derrick Turnbow of today, whose mechanical problems prevented him from throwing any strikes, is the low-end projection here. In fact, Turnbow could be all three of these comparables, he has had such an up-and-down career, but I figured it was better to include some variety.
Perfect-world WAR: 2.0
Median WAR: 0.3
Conclusion: Wait and see. You can't learn stuff, but you can learn control and mechanics. Whether Carr is a quick flameout with injuries or a shutdown reliever will depend on how well he adjusts.