Name: Dexter Carter
DOB: February 5, 1987
Acquired along with Aaron Poreda, Clayton Richard and Ryan Webb from the Chicago White Sox in a deal for Jake Peavy at the July 31 Trading Deadline in 2009, Carter was assigned to Low-A Fort Wayne where he struggled.
Carter went 1-4 with a 12.86 ERA across six starts for the TinCaps. In 21 innings, he allowed 34 hits, walked 15 and struck out 23. The opposition hit a robust .370 off him and that number escalated to .444 with runners in scoring position.
"Now, this guy didn't obviously have the success that he thought or we thought we'd see when he got here, but you can definitely see that there's some ability there and there's a good starting pitcher in that body somewhere," former Fort Wayne and current San Antonio manager Doug Dascenzo said.
Pitching for Kannapolis of the South Atlantic League prior to the trade, Carter posted a 6-2 record and 3.13 ERA across 19 starts. He fanned 143 in 118 innings, allowing 103 hits and walking 32.
His 166 strikeouts placed him fifth in the entire minor leagues in that category and he was fourth in strikeouts per nine innings pitched amongst starters.
His first professional season in 2008 saw him go 6-1 with a 2.23 ERA in the Pioneer League. He struck out 89 in 68.2 innings while holding the opposition to a .179 average.
The Old Dominion alumnus wasn't himself when he came to Fort Wayne and may have hit a wall after doubling his innings from the previous season. The shock of being traded also seemed to affect Carter. He was close to his home in Kannapolis and was transported 15 hours away.
"Well, he had great frame, great body: tall, lanky, he's going to fill out," former Fort Wayne and current Eugene pitching coach Tom Bradley said. "I think he was tired when he got to us, since he had thrown 120 innings. He wasn't the same pitcher as he was with Kannapolis."
Carter is armed with a sinking fastball that goes from 88-92 mph and can touch 93. Team insiders believe he can add even more velocity to what is a projectable frame. He is able to move the pitch around the plate and work ahead with it. When his fastball command is off, however, there is nothing for Carter to fall back on. He becomes a much easier target and will struggle to pitch out of trouble.
His curveball is a plus offering – a swing-and-miss weapon that Carter favors when he is ahead in the count. It has great bite and can be thrown in the strike zone for a strike or as a pitch that stretches the zone and has hitters chasing.
The changeup remains a work in progress. He is one of the few that actually throws it too soft, not trusting the ball to do the work based on his grip. The offering comes in at 79-81 mph and needs to be in the 81-83 mph range to provide nice separation from his curveball.
"He's got a very good fastball and a real good breaking ball," Bradley said. "His changeup is a lot better than I thought. He's just has to get better command in the zone and leverage the ball a little bit better downhill. I think he was tired more than anything. He had a couple decent starts for us, but I just think he got a little bit tired. He went down to the Instructional League and they were going to try and work with him on his motion a little bit and get him ready for spring training. I like his upside, he's got a great frame. He's 6-foot-5, 6-foot-6 and has a good downward angle to his pitches. He'll be fine."
He relied so much on his hammer during 2009 that he got away from a commitment to the changeup. Hitters were able to sit on the curveball because they realized Carter did not have a third pitch he could use to keep them off-balance. The curveball was also a pitch that could be lifted into the air – something much harder to achieve with a quality changeup.
Carter must add strength to a frame that can bear the weight. He weighed between 200 and 210 pounds through the season and 220 would be a comfortable spot for him to land. Keeping the weight on through the season will also be important. The extra strength will aid his fastball velocity and ability to go deep into games.
The right-hander uses his height to his advantage, creating angles for the hitters. That makes his fastball appear to have late life, as hitters don't pick it up very well. He has a three-quarters delivery that could be moved over top to create even more deception and movement on his pitches but the way he finishes – staying tall on his follow through makes him a more intimidating presence.
"Here's a big, tall kid that will have and should have probably more tilt to his pitches," Dascenzo said. "He's going to be in the instructional league and they're going to work on that; but a real good curveball. It's got a lot of bite to it; 12-to-6 curveball, as well as a changeup."
Staying closed off in his delivery causes Carter to throw across his body, putting undo strain on his arm. Setting his line and plant foot at a better trajectory towards home plate would allow his body to be incorporated into the throw. His plant foot has a tendency to land closer to third, throwing off his ability to consistently locate the ball.
Carter will have to battle the mental portion of the game to find his true talent. He took the trade to heart and was impacted by moving across country. In the game of baseball, you could swap zip codes quickly and adaption is necessary.
"Dexter Carter could be the sleeper of the bunch," former pitching consultant Bob Cluck said. "He's got a great body."
Conclusion: A brief sample in Fort Wayne did not show what Dexter Carter can become. He has two quality pitches and is working on a third. With some strength training and fine-tuned mechanics, his fastball could also see a rise in velocity. He has proven he can have success already with two pitches. If the changeup comes along, Carter could be a nasty pitcher to face.
Talk about this story on our subscriber-only message boards
Join MadFriars.com on Twitter at http://twitter.com/madfriars