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2007 Bullpen Preview: Marcos Carvajal

Mike SteffanosSaturday, February 17, 2007
By Mike Steffanos

Although I don't expect Marcos Carvajal will pitch for the Mets in 2007, he is another intriguing addition to the system-wide pitching depth the Mets are trying to develop. I thought fans might appreciate learning a little more about him.

Marcos Carvajal was originally signed by the LA Dodgers as a 16-year-old amateur free agent in September 2000. The Venezuelan right-hander made his American minor league debut at age 18 in 2002, pitching Rookie level ball in the Gulf Coast League. Following a 2004 season primarily pitching A ball, Carvajal was taken as a Rule 5 pick by the Brewers, meaning he would have to spend the full season on the major league roster in 2005. They immediately traded him to the Colorado Rockies, who did manage to keep Carvajal on their major league roster for the entire 2005 season. His numbers weren't great, but considering he was only 21 with just over 150 cumulative minor league innings -- with only 3 innings of Double-A -- he showed some promise.

The Rockies traded him to Seattle after the season for catcher Yorvit Torrealba. In April of 2006, the Mariners dealt him again to Tampa Bay. He spent the entire 2006 season at Double-A Montgomery, where he pitched well. The Mets took Marcos Carvajal off the waiver wire on February 16 after the D-Rays designated him for assignment to make room on their 40-man roster for Jae Kuk Ryu.

In doing my research on Marcus Carvajal, the first mention I find of him comes in March of 2003 while still with the Dodgers, when Baseball America profiled some youngsters with potential who had just missed making their team's top 30 prospects:

The Dodgers have an abundance of budding young power arms from Latin America. Carvajal ... watched his stock soar last year when his velocity jumped from the high 80s to the mid-90s. He has a projectable frame and shows more of a feel for pitching than fellow Dodgers flamethrowers Jose "Jumbo" Diaz, Lino Urdaneta, Agustin Montero and converted catcher Jose Diaz. Carvajal touches 97 mph and sits in the low 90s with good movement. His slider is below-average at this point, though his feel for a changeup is encouraging. He was quite dominant in eight relief appearances last year, limiting opponents to a .146 average. The development of his breaking ball will dictate his future role...

Following the 2003 season Carvajal was selected by BA as one of the top prospects in the rookie level Pioneer League:

Carvajal is another pitcher being broken in as a reliever. He has a loose arm that produces consistent 94-98 mph fastballs. Though his secondary pitches and his command lag behind his heat, he still missed plenty of bats.

"He has everything you look for in a major league closer, beginning with that arm," [Veteran Pioneer Leage manager P.J.] Carey said. "You don't see arms like his very often."

Following his 2005 season in Colorado, The Sporting News offered this on Marcus Carvajal:

Look for more of RHP Marcos Carvajal, 20, a Rule 5 draft pick. Carvajal's best pitch going into the season was his changeup, but he has improved his fastball and slider by working on getting extension coming out of his delivery. The team has been using him in long relief but sees him as a possible starter in the future. He could get a spot start before the season is over. -- Thomas Harding

Finally, in April 2006 when he was traded from Seattle to Tampa Bay, BA's Jim Callis offered this on Carvajal:

Carvajal has a powerful arm and is capable of reaching the upper 90s with his fastball, but he's still working on his slider and command. Tampa Bay assigned him to Double-A Montgomery.

Here are Marcus Carvajal's stats in both the majors and minors:

Marcos Carvajal Minor & Major League Stats
Year -TeamAge Games Innings Hits/9 K/9 BB/9 HR/9 ERA WHIP
2002 - GCL Dodgers (R)18 13 42.0 6.4 7.5 3.2 0.0 1.71 1.07
2003 - Ogden (R)19 23 38.0 7.6 11.8 5.2 0.2 3.08 1.42
2004 - Columbus (A)  20 36 72.0 6.3 9.0 4.4 0.3 1.88 1.18
2004 - Jacksonville (AA)  1 3.0 6.0 6.0 6.0 0.0 0.00 1.33
2005 - Colorado Rockies21 39 53.0 8.8 8.0 3.6 1.4 5.09 1.38
2006 - Montgomery (AA)22 39 72.1 8.2 8.6 4.9 0.9 3.86 1.45

Career Minor League Totals 112 227.1 7.1 9.0 4.5 0.4 2.66 1.29
Career Major League Totals 39 53.0 8.8 8.0 3.6 1.4 5.09 1.38

The walk totals are somewhat high, indicating that he still has work to do on his command. I thought his numbers in Colorado were fairly good, considering that it's a tough place to pitch and he was still pretty raw. Interesting enough, he seems to have pitched better at home that season, with a 3.78 ERA in 33 innings in Colorado compared to a 7.32 ERA in 19 innings on the road. I'm surprised with the dearth of pitching at the major league level that his decent 2005 campaign wasn't good enough to keep Carvajal from going back down to the Double-A level in 2006, but I can't find anything on what happed to him with the D-Rays.

The scouting report on Marcus Carvajal indicates that the changeup is his best pitch, which usually enables a RHP to be particularly effective against lefties. A look at Carvajal's lefty/righty splits would back up the scouting report. He was much more effective against lefties than righties with Colorado in 2005. Last year at the Double-A level he improved his numbers against righties, but slipped somewhat against lefties.

Marcos Carvajal L/R Splits
Year   Innings ERA Hits/9 K/9 BB/9 HR/9 AVG OBP SLG
2005 vs. RHB 30.0 6.00 9.6 6.9 3.6 1.8 .278 .356 .496
Colorado vs. LHB 23.0 3.91 7.8 9.4 3.5 0.8 .233 .305 .372

2006 vs. RHB 44.2 -- 8.1 7.9 4.2 0.8 .233 .323 .378
Montgomery (AA) vs. LHB 27.2 -- 8.5 9.8 5.9 1.0 .250 .358 .394

Marcus Carvajal is still a very young pitcher with a good amount of potential who still has quite a bit of work to do. This was a nice pickup for the Mets considering they gave up little to obtain Carvajal, a power arm who could develop into an effective major league reliever. They had to drop RHP Steve Schmoll off the 40-man roster, and will probably lose him. It's likely that Joe Smith has already supplanted Schmoll in the Mets thinking, and Carvajal would seem to have more upside than the sidearming Schmoll. Look for Carvajal to start the season in New Orleans or possibly Binghamton. I'll be interested to see how he progresses.

2007 Bullpen Previews:
Jon Adkins
Adam Bostick
Ambiorix Burgos
Marcos Carvajal (This Article)
Pedro Feliciano
Aaron Heilman
Guillermo Mota
Clint Nageotte
Juan Padilla
Chan Ho Park
Duaner Sanchez
Steve Schmoll
Scott Schoeneweis
Aaron Sele
Joe Smith
Jorge Sosa
Billy Wagner
Other Candidates
Four Other Names for You

2007 Pitching Previews: Summing It All Up

About Mike: I was the original writer on this web site, actually its only writer for the first 15 months of existence. Although I am grateful for the excellent contributions of my fellow writers here, I have no plans of stepping back into strictly an editorial role. I started this thing in the first place because I love to write and I love the Mets, and blogging here keeps me somewhat sane. If you haven't had enough already, more bio info can be found here.

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Comments (8)

Interseting pattern...Omar is a sly one....Nageotte was a young one coming up...so was Carvajal...Burjos was an infant comparatively. Vargas also was a young phenom...Perez jump started into the majors....Maine is also inclusive of this group. Our ultra-clever GM is slyly extracting power arms who have some relatively minor issues and handing thme over to the coaches. I for one am starting to lose the bitter taste of Duquette. Going to PSL this week to see for myself.

Excellent, very useful scouting report. As are they all, but Carajal was only (barely) a name to me. Nice to have some idea of him.

Thanks, Mike.

Oh, by the way: if one follows the Park Effects for Coors Field over the years as calculated over at Baseball-Reference, here's what you get for the past eight years:

1999-2002: 129,131,122,121

2003-2006: 112,120,113,107

For those unacquainted with the Park Effect ides, it is a coeffecient that tells us how much offense is inflated of deflated by playing in a given park; any number over 100 indicated a hitter-friendly park.

Anyhow, while Coors is still clearly a hitter's park,the effect is quite a bit less than it has been in the past. It's something to keep in mind when we evaluate the Colorado players, both hitters and pitchers.

In the given example, Carvajal had an era of 5.00 in a park that inflated era's by 13%, which ain't so bad, as Mike said.

Another cogent analysis by the best analyst not on a retainer from a major league club. Clearly, Omar has a list of young players on the bubble who have some inherent talent in need of refinement. This approach accounts for a number of excellent acquisitions that have already proven themselves to a certain degree--John Maine/Oliver Perez, and several who are as of yet unproven--Jason Vargas/Ambiorix Burgos/Adam Bostick/Clint Nageotte and now Marcos Carvajal. All of these live arms were either picked off the waiver wire, or throw-ins to a deal. All except Nageotte are under 25. Very nice GMing, indeed. There is no doubt in my mind that Omar Minaya may well have become the quintessential GM from the book of Beane and with a slightly different twist, generally referred to as stockpiling. Two things allow him to be this aggresiive and bold--he has a lot of faith in Rick Peterson and other pitching developers in the Mets system and ownership is letting him do his thing.

As DaMetsman points out, it is stockpiling with a twist.

Back in the day I was a fan of the La Russa/Duncan approach, as practiced in Oakland: a cash-poor organization recognizing that there were numerous veteran pitchers out there who had good arms, but had somehow gotten into a funk. The A's picked these pitchers up on the cheap, did some minor tinkering, and sent them out to compile the innings. It worked, with: Bob Welsh, Dave Stewart, Dennis Eckersley, Mike Moore, Storm Davis, Ron Darling, Steve Ontiveros, Joaquin Andujar, Scott Sanderson, Bobby Witt.

Things have changed in baseball since then. Today, Gil Mesch or Ted Lilly, both of whom are the sort of veteran pitcher the A's would have culled from the pack back then, are getting multi-year deals from somebody. The return just isn't there for taking that chance.

So Omar and Co are playing a variation on the game. They've hired the best pitcher developer they could find; and now they are corraling vast sums of young arms with everything still to prove.

How's it going to work in comparison with the Oakland A's model? I doubt it will produce a four time 20 game winner like Stewart, though one never knows. As for long term returns on these young pitchers, the Mets are looking at two counteracting trends: young players usually last longer than old players, but with pitchers it is health rather than age that is usually the strongest determining factor; and one thing the veterans showed is that they could stay on the active list.

So it may not work as well as the La Russa/Duncan experience, but then maybe that door is closed today; maybe Chris Carpenter will be the last example for a while. What the Mets are doing SHOULD produce good results, if the other part of the managing job -- that of recognizing the talent when it emerges -- is done right. I'm betting Willie and Coach Rick do their jobs, and come June we'll be in deep discussions about a couple of pitchers that never scraped the radar screen before -- except at Mike's blog.

n8genius - Enjoy yourself down there. Wish I could go there some year.
dd - I agree that Coors Field isn't as bad as it used to be, but given his level of experience I thought he pitched pretty well in 2005, at least going by the numbers. You're right, though, you have to be careful in giving too much of a pass to guys who have pitched in Denver over the last few seasons.
DaMetsman and DD - Interesting points on the approach.

Omar is turning into the GM ' Pact Rat ' of ML Baseball . Only Time will Tell if any of this ' Junk ' will be Worth something in the near Future . Hmm... Maybe he should take Julio Franco to the Antiques Roadshow in Queens , and see what he is really Worth . ............:)

Good line, Mark, but I actually like the approach of stockpiling as many arms as possible in the organization.

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