Prospect of the Day: Chris Carter, OF-1B, Oakland Athletics
With Josh Willingham heading to the disabled list, the Oakland Athletics have promoted slugging prospect Chris Carter from Triple-A Sacramento. Let's take a look at this intriguing power bat.
Carter was drafted by the Chicago White Sox in the 15th round in 2005 from high school in Las Vegas, Nevada. He was traded to the Diamondbacks in the December '07 Carlos Quentin trade, then promptly shipped to Oakland as part of the Dan Haren deal a few days later. He hit 39 homers with 104 RBI and a .259/.361/.569 slash line in '08, then had an outstanding year in the Double-A Texas League in '09 with a .337/.435/.576 line and 24 homers.
He hit .258/.365/.529 with 31 homers in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League last year, but his major league career last summer got off to dismal 0-for-33 start. He persevered and followed that with a 13-for-37 (.351) mark to hit .186/.256/.329 overall for Oakland. He returned to Triple-A this spring and got off to a slow start in April (.173/.323/.346) before going on the DL with a thumb injury. Since returning to action for Sacramento on June 13th, he's hit .345/.442/.743, so apparently the time off to heal his thumb has made a difference.
Carter is a big guy at 6-5, 230, and has enormous power. His bat speed is excellent and he kills fastballs, but struggles with breaking balls and changeups. He does have a good batting eye, and while he'll always strike out a lot, he also draws his share of walks. Although his batting averages have been erratic, he has some hitting skills and isn't just a one-dimensional masher, at least not always. His willingness to take walks keeps his OBP at solid levels even when the batting average is low. Carter can be streaky, but he kept his head about him despite the horrible start to his major league career last year.
Carter is a mediocre defensive player at both first base and the outfield. He has a decent arm and isn't completely helpless as a defender, but he lacks range and will never be more than adequate. In the long run he fits best as a DH.
A feast-or-famine type, Carter could easily turn into a 30+ homer slugger, though his batting average could be a drag on a fantasy team, at least in the short run. In the long run, given sufficient adjustment time, I still think he is capable of more broad-based success and could have some surprisingly good years where he hits for some average with the power. That's a minority opinion.