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|
|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 Rockies||21||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|
|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:
Marcos Carvajal (This Article)
Chan Ho Park
Four Other Names for You
2007 Pitching Previews: Summing It All Up