We've been running through the 2014 season for each member of the Indians and key prospects from their farm system. (You can find every entry in the series here.) Now we've reached a countdown of the top ten players on the team, as voted by the Let's Go Tribe staff.
#5: Carlos Carrasco
- Position: Right-Handed Starting Pitcher
- Age: 27
- Acquired: July 29, 2009, traded with Lou Marson, Jason Donald and Jason Knapp from Philadelphia Phillies for Cliff Lee and Ben Francisco
- Contract Status: First Year Arbitration in 2015, Free Agent in 2018
Carlos Carrasco was always considered the centerpiece of the Cliff Lee deal, as he was rated in the Top 100 prospects for both Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus in 2007, 2008, and 2009 prior to the deadline deal.
He made six decent starts in Columbus post trade in 2009 and made his MLB debut after the September roster expansion. He spent most 2010 with Columbus and again was called up in September and had mixed results. He made the rotation out of spring training in 2011, and again had mixed result. In August he was shut down, and in September he had the obligatory Tommy John surgery.
The surgery cost him all of 2012, but he was deemed healthy enough in spring training of 2013 to make the rotation. He promptly was shellacked by the Yankees and headed back to Columbus. He pitched very well in April and May for the Clippers (save one start) and was recalled. After four poor starts, he logged many miles on the shuttle between Columbus and Cleveland. His resulting numbers in Cleveland, 6.75 ERA, 1.757 WHIP, 5.8 K/9 did not bode well for his future as a member of the Tribe.
Heading into this season, with all of his options burned, Carrasco had to prove he deserved to stick someplace on the 25-man roster, or be placed on waivers where a pitching starving team would likely snag him. His stats in the spring (5.17 ERA, 1.72 WHIP) did not help his cause, but he was given a spot in the rotation anyways. Four starts later he had a 6.95 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, and 9.4 K/9. Carrasco was moved to the bullpen, in hopes that he could harness his stuff there. The results were almost immediate.
From April 30 to August 1, he made 25 appearances, and in only two of them did he give up more than one run. He accumulated a 1.85 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, 7.8 K/9, and 4.3 K/BB ratio. He was stretched out by throwing four innings of relief on August 5 before spending the rest of the year back in the rotation.
Most Tribe fans had much trepidation about Francona/Callaway's decision, but Cookie proved all the doubters wrong. He made ten starts and only one had a GameScore under 50 with five of them cracking 70, including a Maddux against the Astros on September 17 (cracking our Top 5 starts of the season). He was Klubot-esque, a 1.30 ERA, 0.81 WHIP, 10.2 K/9 and 7.1 K/BB ratio.
2014 Grade: A
Without those first four starts I'd give this season an A+.
The move to pitching from the stretch all the time really got Carrasco to harness his always nasty stuff. He definitely is in the Opening Day rotation, and right now is the #2 behind Kluber. I am hesitant to confidently predict a full season of his final ten starts, but I think he finally has figured it out. He still is just 27 and if he does not fall into bad habits, could become a fixture in the rotation for a few years.