Tuesday, January 19, 2010

DJ Carrasco

Daniel J. "D. J." Carrasco is a 32 year-old (he'll be 33 in April) Safford, Arizona native, and is rejoining the Bucco organization after an eight-year hiatus.

Carrasco was drafted in the 26th round of the 1997 draft by the Baltimore Orioles, but never did pitch a minor league game for them. He signed late, missing the season, and was released before being assigned in 1998.

He played for the Cleveland Indians' short-season team in 1998, and they cut him loose in August. DJ ended up in the Pirates' farm system between 1999-2002, tossing for Williamsport, Hickory, Lynchburg, and Altoona. He had a 1.61 ERA for the Hillcats in 2002, but he was Rule 5 eligible and the Bucs didn't protect him.

So Carrasco spent all of the 2003 season with the Kansas City Royals as their Rule 5 pick, making 50 appearances, and was up and down with the team from 2004-2005. His first two seasons were spent almost exclusively in the pen; in 2005, he started twenty games. KC released him after the 2005 season.

He pitched briefly in Japan for the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks in 2006 and for the Arizona Diamondbacks' AAA Tucson Sidewinders in 2007. In 2008, Carrasco signed a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training with the Chicago White Sox, and started the year at AAA Charlotte.

On July 9th, Carrasco was recalled by Chicago after posting a 2.38 ERA in seven appearances with the Knights. In those three months, DJ put up a 3.96 ERA in 31 outings in the show, used mostly as a bridge to the set-up crew.

He had a 3.76 ERA in 49 appearances as a long man (he made one spot start) in 2009, and his 93-1/3 innings led all American League relievers.

On December 12, 2009, Carrasco was non-tendered by the White Sox, making him a free agent. It was his first arbitration year; and though he was making the minimum ($440K), the Sox may have though a judge would give him more than they thought a long reliever was worth. Holy Neal Huntington!

A month later, Carrasco signed a minor league contract with the Pirates with an invitation to spring training. If he makes the team, he'll earn $950K in base pay with as much as $250K more available in appearance-based bonuses.

His major league line so far is 20-16 with a 4.45 ERA. None of his peripheries stand out - he doesn't miss many bats (5.5/K per 9 innings), he gives up 3.7 walks/9 innings, and his WHIP is 1.474.

But he is durable, making 80 appearances in the past two years while posting sub-4 ERAs, and his split is OK, with a 25 point spread. Carrasco's heat comes in at around 90, he has a bread-and-butter cutter that he uses about half the time, and shows a slider and curve. Plus he's under team control for two more years.

Carrasco can work a variety of bullpen roles, and has outperformed Jeff Karstens over the past two seasons. He's an upgrade over the long-to-middle arms the Pirates have had under the Huntington regime, and has a pretty good shot at sticking on the roster.

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