Carlos Monasterios Looks Better and Better

Being part of the deal that sent Bobby Abreu to the Yankees almost two years ago, Carlos Monasterios has had a bit of a target on his back. His performance is making that target smaller and smaller though.

The biggest problem that Carlos Monasterios has had since coming to the Phillies organization is battling the fact that he was part of the package that came to the organization in the deal that sent Bobby Abreu to the Yankees. Ever since coming over, fans have watched his every move and are almost waiting for him to fail so they can use that as a sign that the deal was a bad move by the Phillies. It doesn't help that C.J. Henry had a short and non-productive career in the organization, Matt Smith has spent most of his time on the DL and Jesus Sanchez hasn't been overly impressive as a young catching prospect. As it turns out, Monasterios is the best of the prospects that came over and his numbers haven't been dominating enough to make the deal anywhere near respectable.

The truth is that Monasterios pitched pretty well down the stretch for Lakewood last season for Lakewood and is off to a good start to the 2008 season at Clearwater, posting a 3.72 ERA in his first three starts of the season. The naysayers will say he is only as good as his last start, which wasn't all that impressive (four earned runs in six innings), but Monasterios has shown himself to be a better, more productive pitcher over the last two seasons. Keep in mind too, that Monasterios is just a month past his 22nd birthday and had a lot of developing to do when he came over to the Phillies in July of 2006. At the time of the deal, Henry was the key part of the trade, but Monasterios was the second key part of the package, although he was somewhat of an unknown entity. While the Phillies were hoping to pull someone like Phil Hughes or Jose Tabata away from the Yankees, they wound up with Monasterios as the key pitching prospect in the package. Since the deal, Hughes has remained untouchable and Tabata has continued to develop in the lower levels of the Yankees farm system and was ranked as the team's top prospect by Pinstripes Plus.

What has gotten Monasterios into trouble this season is the long ball. In 19.2 innings, he's allowed four home runs, including a two-run shot in his second start of the season that provided the only runs he allowed in the game, which was a 2-0 loss to Fort Myers. He opened the season allowing three home runs in his first two games and those home runs accounted for all the runs that he allowed. On the whole though, Monasterios has pitched well this season; his walk rate (1.9 per nine innings) and strikeout rate (5.1 per nine innings) are both good and opponents are hitting just .188 against him this season. Last season, Monasterios had skipped over the New York-Penn League to pitch for Lakewood and posted a 4.62 ERA for the BlueClaws and pitched well down the stretch as they fought to stay in the post-season hunt.

Pitching coach Steve Schrenk thinks Monasterios gets himself into trouble because of lapses in his focus. "A lot of young pitchers slip every now and then and lose a little focus on what's happening and that's when they make a mistake," explained Schrenk. "Carlos has good stuff and he's tough on the mound, but sometimes, he just fades a little because he's thinking about what just happened or something else that 's going on and he'll give a hitter or two the advantage. Other than those few times though, Carlos has been very impressive this season."

Carlos Monasterios' 2008 season

April 4 Dunedin 1 0 2.84 6.1 6 2 2 2 1 4 1.1 1.4 5.7
April 10 Fort Myers 0 1 2.57 7.0 2 2 2 1 3 4 0.7 3.9 5.1
April 16 at Fort Myers 0 1 6.00 6.0 5 4 4 1 0 3 0.8 0.0 4.5
TOTALS 1 2 3.72 19.1 13 8 8 4 4 11 0.9 1.9 5.1

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