Get excited about David Carpenter. Just don't expect him to be the second coming of Brad Lidge this season.
It's easy to get sucked into Carpenter's resume. Look at what he's done since he came over in the trade for Pedro Feliz and you'll be impressed. Look at what he's done since reaching Oklahoma City and you'll be even more impressed. The man just decided not to give up any runs. Ever.
But, it's telling that in his profile by Zachary Levine over at the Chronicle, the first quote used is from Fred Nelson:
"He has work to do to get himself ready to go to the big leagues," Nelson said recently. "He’s not there yet.
"Sometime shortly if there’s a need at the big league level, he could certainly be a candidate who could go to the big leagues. He’s still working on location and command and his secondary stuff and how to pitch to experienced hitters."
He's not there, because his control isn't where it needs to be. I know that could just be the Astros toeing the line with his development, but it's also not borne out by statistics. He's walking guys at a rate of 2.8 BB/9 in Triple-A, which is pretty good.
I know Astros County disagreed with the notion that Carp isn't ready. But, the biggest thing that stands out to me is he's only pitched 19 innings. I want to get excited about him, I really do. That inning total, though, really worries me, especially if the team has concerns over his control.
We mention sample size issues around here a lot. It's the most easily mockable part of being a sabermetrician. Fact is, being a reliever is just a volatile job. Looking at results to justify future performance is dangerous with relievers and doubly so with minor league relievers.
Did you know Carp has only thrown 176 innings in his entire four-year career on the mound? And that just 33 of those have been at Double-A or above? However good Carpenter is, I need more results before I can say without a doubt he's bound for major league success.
The other side of that coin is he's getting this done at Triple-A. Yes, it's in a heavy offensive environment like the Pacific Coast League, but he's doing it against the likes of Wily Mo Pena. There are just as many Quad-A players here as there are legitimate prospects. There's always a chance Carpenter could get called up and pitch great down the stretch. But, we still won't be able to predict whether he's going to be a useful piece or the next Jeff Fulchino.
I know I'm being unduly negative about all this, and I am excited about Carp's future. I just can't get too excited about a minor league reliever who's pitched 19 innings in Triple-A.