Scouting Padres Prospect Brent Carter

Timing is everything. Sometimes it rewards and other times it slaps you upside the noggin. In Brent Carter's case it was the latter.

Vital Statistics;
Name: Brent Carter
Position: LHP
DOB: October 10, 1982
Height: 6-foot-3
Weight: 200
Bats: Right
Throws: Left

Carter was in the midst of one of the most impressive streaks of his career when he was downed for the year when he ruptured his Achilles attempting to cover third base.

Carter had allowed one run over a 29 inning span coming into the ninth inning of that game versus High Desert and was charged with an unearned run after he left the game - what would have been his second complete game in three starts. He did not walk a single batter during that same stretch and had given up just 14 hits.

Instead of continuing a promising season, surgery and rehab were the only things on his agenda for the rest of the year.

"I think it is fun to watch Brent pitch," former Alabama teammate and current Padres' prospect Wade LeBlanc said. "It was a shame to see he ended the season the way he did. He was having a lot of success with a chance to end the year in Double-A. He is going to rehab as hard as he can, I know Brent, and he will be ready to go."

Carter had allowed one run or less in eight of his 15 outings, showing resiliency by bouncing back from four games with five or more runs allowed. He threw four games of shutout ball and was hitting his groove with command of his fastball and off-speed pitches leading the way.

"He was great last year (2005) in Eugene and came to (Fort Wayne) and had a couple of good outings," 2006 Lake Elsinore pitching coach Steve Webber said.

It started in spring training for the southpaw. Instead of resting on his success from the year before, Carter challenged hitters routinely – making a lot of his fellow Padres' prospects look foolish. It led to a move past Fort Wayne and into High-A Lake Elsinore.

Once he made the trek up to the California League, Carter used his fastball in all four quadrants of the strike zone to get ahead and issued a heavy dose of changeups to keep hitters off-balance.

Trouble came when the fastball would elevate and allow a right-handed hitter to get full extension – often resulting in long fly balls that would either leave the yard or bound off the wall.

Ironically, left-handed hitters had a good beat on the portsider's pitches. They hit him at a .377 clip and the thinking is it came from his two-pitch repertoire and a changeup that comes back over the outer half of the plate. Left-handed hitters have continually swatted him since joining the system while right-handers can't get a good beat on his pitches.

Carter has been working on a slider over the last two seasons but has never had a tremendous amount of confidence in the pitch. That third offering would stop hitters from keying on his fastball-changeup combination, especially since his heater sits 86-88 MPH.

His ability to throw his fastball to all points of the compass give him major league command today and it is a deceptive pitch, sneaking up on batters. But, there are times when he throws too many strikes and can be hit hard in those instances. He has walked just 19 in 163.2 minor league innings to date.

The slider would give him a pitch that would feel like a strike until it tails down and out of the zone.

"His strength is command of the fastball and the changeup," said Webber. "We need to bring his slider along but he has the luxury of those two pitches and to pitch with those two pitches while the slider comes along. There is somewhat of an emphasis to throw the slider but we also know that with the command of the fastball and the changeup he can pitch at this level."

A fastball he locates and a good change," Padres' scouting director Bill "Chief Gayton said. "He is a strike thrower."

Carter struggled with the big inning this past season. Once the floodgates opened he had a tough time closing them. And he was slow starter, often taking an inning or two to gain his feel on the mound. In fact, 18 of the 32 earned runs he allowed over 79.2 innings with the Storm came in the first two innings. The opposition also hit .345 off him in the first frame.

Just 14 earned runs were left over for innings three through nine. His average against in innings six through nine (17 total frames) was a miniscule .167.

ETA: Proving he is healthy will likely require another stint in California, at least to start. His Achilles will be tested, as it is vital to his ability to push off the rubber. He is a strike-thrower and that alone will propel him further. Showing he still has all those tools will keep him on the path.

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