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The View from Behind the Backstop: Infielder Luis Carpio

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The Venezuelan infielder was the #30 international prospect in 2013 and doesn't turn eighteen for another week. How is he handling an aggressive Appalachian League assignment so far?

Jessica Rudman

Luis Carpio

IF, Kingsport Mets (R)

Height, weight: 6'0", 165
Age (2015 season age): 17
Acquired: IFA, 2013 ($300,000)
Date(s) seen: 6/27, 6/29 vs. Bluefield Blue Jays: 3-9, 3 R, 2 RBI, BB, K
2015 so far: 40 PA, .225/.311/.275, 5 K, 3 BB

At the plate

Carpio's approach and ability at the plate would be rare at this level from a just-drafted college junior; he is the same age as a high school junior. The swing is very sound mechanically. He employs an open stance with a simple toe tap to close. He almost squats a bit as he loads his hands, and then explodes short and quick to the ball. He maintains his balance well, and despite his size the ball already jumps off his bat a bit. He works gap-to-gap on fastballs, and he can already track and stay back on sliders. You almost never see this in short-season baseball from batters of any age.

Carpio isn't strong enough to do much more than spray line drives right now, but I do see some power potential here. He should fill out a bit more in his upper body, and as he gets stronger those balls will start carrying into the gap. He already gets more carry on balls than you would think, both in batting practice and in games.

Hit

Current Grade: 20 (Well-below average/.200 BA)

Future Grade: 60 (Above-average/Plus/.280 BA)

Raw Power

Current Grade: 20 (Well-below-average)

Future Grade: 45 (Fringe-average)

Game Power

Current Grade: 20 (Well-below-average/0-3 HR)

Future Grade: 40 (Below-average/~10 HR)

In the field

The Mets have played Carpio primarily at shortstop and second base in his professional career, and I got a look at him at both positions. First some general notes: Like his skills at the plate, Carpio is polished and smooth in the field. He has a good first step, moves well laterally, and shows good instincts and actions on balls to either side of him. He is sure-handed and comfortable on double play feeds and turns from both spots up the middle. The one time I did see him struggle was on the backhand play at shortstop. It is a difficult play for a young middle infielder to make, as the tendency is to do everything a bit quickly. I think in the end the arm is a bit light for shortstop, but it is possible that the total package of defensive skills is able to cover for this to a certain extent. He would be a very good defensive second baseman, and they have tried him at third as well.

Oddly, although he moves well defensively, Carpio lacks much straight-ahead speed. He posted multiple below-average run times, I think in part due to his very short, almost duck-like strides. The lack of traditional foot speed isn't noticeable in the field, but it probably will limit him as a base stealer.

Glove (SS)

Current Grade: 30 (Well-below-average)

Future Grade: 40 (Below-average)

Arm

Current Grade: 50 (Average)

Future Grade: 50 (Average)

Run

Current Grade: 40 (Below-average)

Future Grade: 40 (Below-average)

The optimistic projection

55: Solid everyday player

The likely outcome

40: Utility infielder

Carpio is a very different type of player than Amed Rosario, but given that they are both middle infielders, got a fair amount of bonus money, and spent their age-17 seasons in Kingsport, I think it's a useful point of comparison for the reader. Rosario was taller and more generally athletic and fast-twitch than Carpio at the same age, but Carpio smokes him in terms of present-day baseball skills. Rosario is far more likely to stick at shortstop, and even projects as a pretty good one based on the 2015 reports. That gives him a clear leg up as a prospect now, but I will take Kingsport Carpio over Kingsport Rosario. It's not easy to find young players with this type of hitting ability, and the potential versatility with the glove gives him a path to the majors even if the offensive skills don't develop as much as I am projecting.

What to look for during the 2016 season

The Mets gave Amed Rosario a second year in extended spring training and then sent him to Brooklyn, but as I wrote above, he wasn't as advanced a baseball player as Carpio is. There are roster considerations here too, I would expect the older Milton Ramos and Vinny Siena to get first consideration for a South Atlantic League assignment. That said I think Carpio could handle a full-season ball assignment as an 18-year-old, and I am curious to see how well he holds his own there. As for skill development things, watch to see how if and when he starts to show a bit more game power, even if it is only doubles, and how his approach holds up against better quality pitching.