Padres Prospect Interview: Brent Carter

Brent Carter wasn't expecting to be drafted last June, so when he got word that he'd been taken on the first day, he was "ecstatic." After a debut campaign in which he allowed only a 1.71 ERA and posted a 79:8 strikeout-to-walk ratio, it was the Padres' front office who felt that way. We caught up with Carter on opening day for the Lake Elsinore Storm, where he starts the 2006 season after only two games in the Midwest League last year.

Congrats on making the jump to Lake Elsinore after your debut last year. Did you feel like you'd be headed out here?
Brent Carter: I knew going into spring, I was probably ticketed originally to Fort Wayne, but I just came in determined to show them that I wanted to be in Elsinore. I felt like all throughout the spring, by the way I pitched including my bullpens, that proved to them that I was ready for Elsinore, and evidently the staff agreed. I really like what Grady's putting in place here - about the fastball command and changeup command - that kind of fits into what I do best. I'm mostly a fastball, changeup guy right now.

Are you looking at the slider as your breaking ball for the third pitch?
Carter: Yeah, definitely still working on that slider as a third pitch. It's coming around. It's made huge strides as far as where I was at the end of the summer to where I am now with it. I'm getting more confident each time I throw it, so I feel really good about it now.

With the organization's focus on the changeup, did you spend any time with Bob Cluck or the other instructors on that this spring?
Carter: No. The changeup is something I learned my freshman year of high school because even then, I didn't have a dominant fastball. I had a good fastball for the high school level, but it wasn't overpowering, so I knew I had to come up with something else. My high school coach worked with me on that, and that's where I developed my change. And I've just kept getting better with it over the years.

I don't think anyone could have asked for a better professional start than you had last year. Talk a little bit about that experience.
Carter: To an extent, I surprised myself. Last summer - and the way I came into spring training, I feel the same way now - I just knew wherever I wanted to put the ball, I could as far as fastballs go. Not only just in or out, I could go down with it or up with it. Just working each quadrant of the strike zone. Pitching with a high level of confidence and a high level of concentration (has) allowed me to do that.

Coming out of Alabama as the career strikeout leader, did you have any sense of where you might go in the draft or that the Padres were looking at you?
Carter: No. A couple people I had talked to that had talked to scouts in the state who saw me throw all said I'd be a free agent, after-the-draft guy. So, I was ecstatic to go on the first day and to the Padres. I don't think there?s a better organization out there for me to be in than San Diego. All the coaches and instructors I've met have just been unbelievable - the whole front office. Everyone here just carries themselves with a great deal of class and it's really great.

I imagine you've got a bunch of people waiting to see you make the next move in the system so you can go back to Alabama and throw in Mobile?
Carter: I'm from Georgia, and went to school in Alabama, so it's about a four hour trip to Mobile. That's looking VERY far ahead, especially in this business of minor league baseball, you've got to take it one day at a time. If you start looking ahead and not worry about what's there in front of you, that's when you get caught up in everything. That's what I'm doing right now - just trying to take it one day at a time. Everything's great right now. I enjoy the guys on the team, and I'm just looking forward to the season. I think everyone is.

The reputation for lefty starters is that they?re a kind of crazy and a little quirky on the mound. Do you feel like you fit that mold, or are you more straight-laced?
Carter: I feel pretty straight-laced. I try to keep my composure. I?m not going to be a hard-thrower, I?m not going to throw the ball by anybody. But, I feel like I?m going to get outs. I compare myself a lot to Tom Glavine (with a) fastball, changeup, with that fastball working both sides of the plate.

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