Meet Nick Carr

The Mets have done a nice job finding value in their pitching drafts in recent years. Generally, the 41st round isn’t the place to find major prospects, but that’s exactly where the Mets found RHP Nick Carr out of the College of Southern Idaho in 2005.

Carr has one superlative quality: he throws hard. Saturday night when I saw him, he touched 95 mph and sat at 92, 93 mph. However, a live arm alone is not enough to make a big league pitcher. And in fact, the movement on his fastball is inconsistent; Saturday, it showed fine armside run, but Carr is aware that in that regard, he must learn to command the pitch to where “if it’s moving, it’s moving all the time.” His control and secondary offerings, a slider, and a rarely used changeup, don’t match his superlative heater. Carr, a fine athlete who used to spend his free time in high school in Idaho snowboarding and ripping on 4x4s, is many physical, mental and mechanical adjustments from the big leagues.

In the first inning on Saturday, he missed out of the zone on eight of his first nine pitches on his way to walking four batters in the inning. He acknowledges that this is an issue, “I just need to work on getting the ball down and coming in the game ready to go,” he explained. As for why he had such trouble locating on a Saturday night in the Florida State League, “I was just trying to be too perfect.” For example, rather than trusting his arsenal, he says, “when I was trying to go outside, I was trying to throw it right on the black instead of outside, but over the plate where [a batter] can swing or at least get a strike called.”

As for what worked well, when he settled in, Carr credits clearing his mind and simplifying his thought process. “It was kinda like I just said ‘f—k it, I’m gonna just throw the ball’” the righty said. He credits his coaches for this simple mantra, “Every pitching coach I’ve ever had has said, sometimes, you just gotta say, “f–k it… I was just gonna let my talent and ability take over.”

Whether or not Carr will be able to tame his natural ability will be in large part determined by whether he wins the battle in his own mind. The 21-year old claims he’s made important progress, “I’ve learned a lot” he says, but knows there’s more to go to complete his mission of being “cool, calm and collected” during games. To that end he’s established a routine in the dugout. When he’s pitching, he takes a drink of water everytime an out is recorded. In 2005, his first professional season, he was in Kingsport, and, annoyed at being removed from the game, after pitching poorly, committed the baseball sin of flipping the ball to his manager rather than handing him the ball. That was not an isolated incident, as he puts it, “I used to do things that way” but now. A more mature Carr two years on now knows more about “how to go about business the right way.”

Beyond the mental side of the game, Carr is working hard on shoring up his mechanics. At times he’ll have his “front side fly open,” a common problem for young pitchers. When pitching, he tells himself to get his “chin to my knee.” In this regard, as on the mental side, he sees progress, “it’s been a long process as far as my delivery goes,” he says. At the same time, he knows there’s much more to do, because his delivery is “still not what it needs to be. It definitely can use some work.”

Lets look at the pictures to make this clearer.

Bad Good
Carr Exaggerates an Open Landing Carr Demonstrates a Closed Landing
Note:1. the front (left) hip opening.2. lack of balance

3. tilt in the upper body – especially the back shoulder dropping

4. Arm out to the side

Note:1. toes draw a line towards home plate2. great balance with upper body on top of lower body

3. Strong front side, foot, hip shoulder

4. Arm in line out of view

Release After Landing Open Release after Landing Closed
Note:1. Where’s his right hand? shoulder?2. What’s happening on his backside?

3. Look at his pinky finger: he will release on the side of the ball because his momentum is carrying him across (l-r) in the picture.
Note here that his hand will not get as far in front as in the picture on the right.

Note:1. Where’s his right hand? shoulder?2. What’s happening on his backside?

3. Look carefully at his hand. See how his hand is on top of his elbow? This is what pitchers mean when they talk about getting “on top” of a pitch. Note also that his hand will get out in front.

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