Double-A lefthander Robert Carson has not had a statistically impressive season, but after seeing him in person last weekend, I liked him more than the numbers suggest.
Carson is allowing a ton of base runners. His 4.0 BB/9 is poor and his K/BB rate of 1.57 is second worst in the Eastern League (qualified leaders). Carson also has had a propensity for giving up homeruns this season. His 0.98 HR/9 is 5th worst in the EL.
With all being said, Carson should not be written off as a prospect by any stretch of the imagination.
– The 22-year old 6’ 3’’ 220lb Carson is one of the 10 youngest pitchers in the Eastern League.
– He throws an above average fastball for a left-hander, sitting at 91-94 mph throughout the contest. When Carson gets extension on his fastball, he is very effective getting good hard boring action to right-handed hitters.
– Slider- When thrown out in front and in the same arm slot as the fastball, the slider is a very effective pitch with tight rotation and some tilt. The slider is effective weapon to compliment his fastball. Lacks sharp bite, but is effective when located well.
– Build- Strong and athletic frame. Thick and powerful lower half. Power pitcher’s frame.
-Arm action- Clean, free and easy motion. Not much effort in the delivery suggests perhaps more velocity down the road, especially in shorter relief stints. High 3/4 release.
Carson gets in trouble when he does not stay behind the baseball, causing his fastball to flatten out and making it very hittable. When Carson does not get extension on his pitches, his arm lags behind and pushes the pitches to the plate. This hinders the effectiveness of his pitches as well as his command.
Since Carson throws from the third base side of the rubber and slightly across his body, it was difficult to consistently pound the inner third to right handed hitters. When he missed, he missed over the middle of the plate or away from right handed hitters. Carson also raised his arm angle at times making his fastball straighten out a bit. I prefer him at a mid to high 3/4. The high 3/4 release allows his slider to get much better tilt and depth.
One scout in attendance suggested Carson move to the first base side of the rubber to allow his fastball work down and in to righties. Basically the scout suggested a move to the other side of the rubber, plus consistent extension on his release point would give Carson a better opportunity to succeed.
Carson predominately worked off his fastball, but also showed a curveball (76-79), slider (82-83), and an occasional change-up (81-83). When he stayed on top of his curveball and got his release point out in front, it was effective. Carson’s curveball while effective down (like most pitches), is nothing more than an average offering. The slider is the weapon that would be most effective for Carson. If he can consistently throw his fastball and slider at the back foot of right-hander, this could be a very affective combination for Carson.
Carson’s struggles are not related to arm strength, size, and physical ability, but are related to inconsistencies in his release point, secondary offerings, and command. The fact that Carson shows above average arm strength gives him a chance to be an effective big league pitcher. At times he showed some solid secondary offerings, but needs to get more consistent as he moves up the ladder. It is a rare thing to see such a big, physical, hard throwing left-hander not make it to the major leagues.
I can see Carson as a fastball/slider combination reliever in the Bill Bray mold. If Carson can iron out his kinks, he has a chance to pitch in the big leagues for a very long time. Hard-throwing left-handers are rare.