Scouting Padres Prospect #40: Brent Carter

You would be hard pressed to find a player that was so good in his professional debut at any level. In the words of J.J. Walker, Brent Carter was "Dyno-mite!"

The Padres have targeted several pitchers over the last few years that produced at successful college programs. Players that showed they could pitch within a tough conference. Brent Carter was an example of the same type of player.

After being drafted Alabama in the 16th round, Carter plowed through the Northwest League as a member of the Eugene Emeralds.

"Friday night lights pitcher with a fastball he located and a good change," explained Bill Gayton, the Padres' scouting director. "His curveball needs some work.

"A nice addition from the left side. He is a strike thrower. He could advance to a higher level quickly and we will see what he can do to make adjustments."

In 13 starts, Carter allowed one earned run or less in ten, two runs or less in ten, and two earned runs or less in 12. When he was called up to the Wizards late in the year he gave up one run over two starts – a span of 12 innings.

The Padres stress on big-time college pitches panned out beautifully with Carter. Coming from a strong baseball conference, the SEC, this left-hander was poised to take the short-season league by storm.

He used mastery of pitch location to accomplish the feat. With the ability to spot his fastball on the corners and a willingness to come inside, Carter kept the opposition off-balance.

"He throws strikes," Padres vice president of scouting and player development Grady Fuson said. "A lefty who can move the ball in and out within the zone."

His repertoire is a fastball, changeup with a slider he prefers to throw against left-handed hitters. The changeup is used primarily against righties because he has a tougher time spotting it against lefties – and it reflected in his average against where righties batted .208 off him and lefties hit .258 – but the change can, at times, make people look foolish.

"Carter is a guy who has a big league command of his fastball right now," director of baseball operations Jeff Kingston said. "He can put it up, down, out and in. He really knows how to pitch, changes speeds and has a nice changeup. His velocity is in the mid to high 80's. To me he seems similar to John Halama, hitters just can't seem to get comfortable with him on the mound."

He ended the year with a 6-2 mark and a 1.71 ERA over two leagues – spanning 15 starts.

His fastball reaches the mid-eighties, making control crucial to his game. First pitch strikes, something stressed at every level, enabled Carter to pitch his game effectively. In 72 innings of work, he ended up allowed just seven walks while striking out 66. With his ability to control the count, he had the freedom to throw any pitch and bait the hitters into chasing.

With a WHIP (walks plus hits per inning pitched) of 0.86 over two leagues, it would be safe to call his year dominant.

"Brent Carter did so well this year and I am so jealous of his changeup," fellow pitcher Ben Krosschell began. "Just being behind the plate and charting him pitch, I have learned so many things. I am always so amazed when he throws the changeup at how bad he makes hitters look. He really makes hitters look stupid."

Justifying his lower position on the prospect ladder is more difficult but without a plus fastball, his stock takes a hit. Hitters are far more aggressive at the lower levels of the minors, making a college pitcher's ability to thrive more pronounced. He has the ability to spot his pitches and could be a Tom Glavine/Greg Maddux style pitcher but proof is needed before coronations of that magnitude take place.

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