Scouting Report: RHP, Sean Carley

The Yankees drafted right-handed pitcher Sean Carley in the 14th round of the 2014 MLB Draft out of West Virginia University. He had an inauspicious debut season in Staten Island this year but, big-framed and armed with some power, he brings a lot of long-term upside and is one of the better 'sleeper' pitching prospects at the lower levels right now.

[Photo by Robert Pimpsner]

Vital Statistics:
Name: Sean Carley
Position: Pitcher
DOB: December 28, 1990
Height: 6'4"
Weight: 230
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

He initially played for the Air Force Academy to begin his college career before transferring to West Virginia for his junior [and final] year of college. Both a starter and a reliever in the collegiate ranks, he flip-flopped between both roles in Staten Island this year, posting merely a 1-4 record and a 5.48 ERA in the New York Penn League.

"It had its pluses and minuses," Carley said of his debut season. "There's definitely a learning curve in there going from college ball to pro ball. I had some rough outings there in the beginning which was also affiliated with taking some time off after my college season and into my pro season, but towards the end in my last four or five outings I felt I threw the ball well and I saw my velo spike back up which was encouraging for me."

A tireless worker, one who goes all out to be the very best he can be, Carley's velocity initially dropped. In fact, there were long periods at the beginning of the season where he was sitting 89-92 mph which is a few ticks off of his normal velocity. It turned out that the coaching staff noticed he was putting a little too much effort into his pre-game routines and once he learned to dial it down a notch his game began to prosper by season's end.

"Some of that can be attributed to what me and coach 'Norty' [Tim Norton] worked on which was how much I was warming up before those games," Carley admitted. "I felt like when I was in my beginning warmups and when I was starting up that I was prepared and ready to go but by the time I got on the mound I felt like I was already in my fourth inning as far as how many bullets I had already thrown.

"So we shortened up how much I was throwing and how many throws I was getting, and just trusting that my command would be there. I went out there that first time [after making the adjustment] and my first six pitches were 95 mph. I had late life and my slider was firmer, and everything looked good. That was a big turning point for me in my season and I'd also argue that was a big turning point for me in my career too."

Another big turning point was the rather rapid development of his slider, at least in terms of his professional debut season. It had been a pitch that he struggled to develop during his entire college career and immediately became a developmental focal point of his once he got with the Yankees.

"Coming into Staten Island and working with those coaches I was like 'listen man, my breaking ball needs some serious work', he admitted. "I played with some stuff, fiddle-faddled around a little bit and wound up finding a firm slider that was breaking late in the clay and looked like my fastball does coming out of my hand. It was really those last couple of outings it all came together."

Late in the season he was sitting in the mid-90s with his fastball and showing an upper-80s slider that was reminiscent of Joba Chamberlain, who coincidentally, Carley kind of resembles on the mound.

"I have heard that," Carley said. "I do see myself throwing a little bit like him and my body style is pretty comparable to him. I never met Joba as a person and I don't know how he is in the offseason, but it would be pretty hard to replicate my work ethic.

"He's a great player and he's been playing in the pros for a while now and obviously he has a great arm, but I take pride in who I am and how as I play as a player so comparisons are just comparisons."

The Yankees knew Carley had some significant potential as a reliever when they drafted him. What they didn't know is if there was some starting potential too. While he could remain in the starting role for the time being to have some more time to develop his secondary pitches, long-term Carley and the Yankees still view him as a potential back-end reliever.

"I'm an older guy. I'm already 23 and about to be 24 this month. It's time for me to get some moves. They're going to move me up quick and they're going to move me out quick. If I have success early and continue to compete at a high level they're going to continue to move me up.

"If I'm getting hit around a little bit though and continue to make minor tweaks here and there, and nothing's working, I don't see them keeping me around for very long. It's really up to me to capitalize on those moments and making sure I'm proving to them that I'm the caliber player when they drafted me, that I'm working hard, and when I come to Spring Training that the hard work is coming out."

Despite the lackluster debut numbers in Staten Island this year, Carley has shown flashes of being the type of pitcher that could move rather quickly through the minor leagues in almost Nick Rumbelow-like fashion given his superb control of now two plus pitches and overall great makeup.

"I know that it's in there. I know that the caliber of player is in me to do that. Obviously getting to the bigs is a little bit of luck and a lot of hard work. I feel I can compete at the highest level. I attack hitters.

"If they hit my stuff, they hit my stuff, but they're going to earn it. I control the running game, I don't walk a lot of guys, and I attack batters -- here it is, I'm gripping it and ripping it, and let's see if you can hit it," he concluded.

Year

Team

W-L

SV

IP

H

BB

SO

ERA

2014

Staten Island

1-4

0

23.0

29

4

17

5.48



Repertoire. Fastball, Slider, Changeup.

Fastball. There were two Carley's fastball-wise in Staten Island this year; one sat 89-92 mph in the first half of the season and other sat 93-96 mph in the second half of the season. After learning to scale back the enthusiasm and conserve his energy better the latter one is the real Carley. It isn't just power he provides either. His fastball shows good late life and he can consistently locate it in the strike zone. He has no wild tendencies.

Other Pitches. By far Carley's best secondary pitch is his brand new slider. For years he had thrown a slurvy breaking ball that was half in between a curveball and a slider, sitting mostly in the low-80s that was more of a cement mixer than anything. However, now he boasts a hard late-breaking slider in the 87-89 mph range. It's not a pitch he consistently locates in the zone for called strikes just yet but he can generate a lot of swings and misses with it. His changeup is definitely a third pitch, one that shows merely average long-term potential.

Pitching: Carley's personality certainly comes out on the mound. A high-energy player with a tangible attacking style, he goes right after batters early and often. He is one who despises the free pass and would rather have batters hit their way on. There's simply no nibbling on the corners whatsoever. While the control is superb, the command within the zone still has room to improve, especially with his new slider. He has tremendous makeup though, he's highly intelligent, and few can match his work ethic.

Projection. The Yankees might go the Zach Nuding route short-term with Carley and develop him as a starting pitcher in the name of allowing more time for him to develop his secondary pitches but make no mistake, he absolutely projects best as back-end bullpen pitcher long-term. Mentality-wise and physically there are obvious comparisons to Joba Chamberlain, but unlike Chamberlain he won't flash the upper-90s fastball. Able to sit 95 mph in short inning stints though, if he can keep up the power slider he has recently developed and learn to throw it a bit more in the strike zone, there is some equal setup or closing type potential if it all comes together for him.

ETA. 2017. If Carley is moved to the bullpen right now he has the potential to soar through the minor leagues rather quickly given his innate strike-throwing ability and plus stuff. We're going to go the conservative route here though for now until that transition happens but don't be surprised if he is able to follow a Nick Rumbelow-like path in 2015.


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