A Lot of Opportunities
How badly do major teams need pitching? Obviously, pretty badly if the Arizona Diamondbacks signing of Cesar Carrillo to a minor league contract today means anything.
For those of you who don’t remember or ever knew who Carillo is, he’s a former University of Miami ace who was selected with the 18th overall pick of the 2005 Draft by the San Diego. He went on to do very little in his professional career — he had a 13.06 ERA in three starts with the 2009 Padres and had Tommy John surgery along the way.
However, Carrillo’s real claim to fame is getting hit with a 100-game suspension as one of the first players disciplined in the Biogenesis America performance enhancing drug scandal. Because Carrillo was a minor leaguer not protected by the Major League Baseball Players’ Association, MLB could and did hit him with a bigger penalty than anyone but Alex Rodriguez ultimately received for having his name in Biogenesis America’s documents.
Carrillo had been extremely ineffective for the Detroit Tigers’ A+ and AA teams in 2012 (6.23 overall ERA) before getting hit with the big suspension, and I figured his professional career would be effectively over as a result.
Turns out I was wrong. The Tigers did cut Carrillo after he completed the 100-game suspension, but Carillo didn’t call it quits, catching on with the Sugarland Skeeters of the Atlantic League, the best of the Independent-A leagues.
Frankly, Carrillo didn’t do much at Sugarland that impresses me. His 4.02 ERA in nine starts wasn’t bad, but his other numbers were pretty terrible. In 47 innings pitched, he walked 31 while striking out only 22.
I’m not sure what the Diamondbacks see in Carrillo, other than the fact that at age 30 in 2014, he’s not old as far as washed-up right-handers go. However, the question why the Diamondbacks would waste their time with Carrillo when pitchers who completely dominated the Atlantic League in recent years like Mike Loree in 2011 and Paul Oseguera in 2012 still couldn’t get a real shot with any major league organization has me scratching my head. At least make a guy with this much baggage dominate Independent-A league hitters before you give him a contract!
I suspect that a lot of the Diamondbacks’ decision, aside from the fact that they must be seriously lacking pitching depth in their minor league system, is based on the fact that Carrillo was once a first round draft pick. Sometimes, when a player gets that early top-talent label, he continues to get opportunities when all standards of reason and past performance would seem to dictate otherwise.
Meanwhile, guys like Loree and Oseguera, who were drafted in the 50th and 16th rounds of their respective drafts, don’t get even a second chance after completely dominating the same league. [For the record, Loree is two years older than baseball reference lists him as, and he did get a brief opportunity with the Pirates’ organization after dominating the Atlantic League in 2011; in four late season appearances for the Pirates’ AA club in Altoona, he posted a 1.17 ERA with 11 Ks in 7.2 innings pitched; even so, he found himself back in the Atlantic League come the start of the 2012 — obviously, the Pirates didn’t give him a real opportunity, since he couldn’t have pitched much better than he actually did.] It appears that major league organizations often make snap judgments about whether a player is or is not a major league talent, and once made they stick to that snap judgment like grim death.
At least, both Mike Loree and Paul Oseguera have gone on to success in Asia, Loree first in Taiwan’s CPBL and now in South Korea’s KBO and Oseguera in Japan’s NPB. You can bet I’ll be rooting for both of them in 2014 and beyond. Cesar Carillo? Not so much.