Per Reader Request, a Prospect Retro: Carlos Silva
Carlos Silva was signed by the Philadelphia Phillies as a free agent in 1996, out of Venezuela. He made his pro debut that summer, pitching 18 innings for Martinsville in the Appalachian League at the age of 17, allowing 11 runs but posting a nice 16/5 K/BB ratio. At this point, he was a basic "kid with a live arm", his best attributes being youth and control. He'd have rated a Grade C or Grade C+ prospect.
Returning to Martinsville in 1997, Silva made 11 starts, posting a 5.15 ERA and a 31/14 K/BB in 58 innings, allowing 66 hits. His velocity picked up into the low 90s and he threw strikes, but his secondary pitches were unreliable, making him too hittable. Grade C with higher potential would be an appropriate grade.
Silva split '98 between Martinsville and Batavia in the New York-Penn League, pitching poorly at both levels, with high ERAs and way too many hits allowed (109 in 86 innings combined). His velocity continued to pick up, hitting the upper 90s at times with sinking action, but his below average secondary pitches were a severe hindrance. He would still be a Grade C prospect.
He started to turn things around in 1999, going 11-8, 3.12 in 26 starts for Piedmont in the Sally League. His K/BB was 99/41 in 164 innings, but he allowed 176 hits. His fastball was now a consistent 93-95 MPH pitch, sometimes a touch higher, with continued sinking action. His curveball improved from very poor to average. Sabermetrically, his best attributes were youth, control, and strong ground ball tendencies, but his K/IP and H/IP were weak. I gave him a Grade C+ in the 2000 book.
Silva spent '00 at Clearwater in the Florida State League, going 8-13 with a 3.57 ERA and 82/26 K/BB in 177 innings, allowing 229 hits. His control of the fastball improved, but his curveball regressed to below average, killing his H/IP and K/IP. I dropped him to Grade C in the '01 book, concerned that unless he developed another pitch that he'd get killed at higher levels.
Moved up to Double-A in 2001, he went 15-8, 3.90 in 28 starts for Reading, with a 100/27 K/BB in 180 innings, allowing 197 hits. His slider and curveball improved, and he continued to pound the strike zone with his sinking fastball. I moved his grade up to C+. I really wasn't sure what to make of him. I liked his sinker, and his improvement in Double-A was impressive, but the K/IP and H/IP were still weak.
The Phillies made him a reliever in 2002, and he spent two years in their bullpen, pitching OK. He was shipped off to Minnesota in 2004, and they made him a starter. Silva's major league career so far has been very similar statistically to his minor league career: excellent control, but a low strikeout rate and more than a hit per inning. His walk rate has become ridiculously low, which is good because his margin for error is still rather thin. He now has a career record of 31-17, with an ERA+ of 114 (sound numbers) but has allowed 647 hits in 563 innings, with just 236 strikeouts. To be honest, I have no freaking idea what to expect from Silva in coming years.
Similar Pitchers to Carlos Silva
I'm not sure that any of those guys are truly comparable.