Late last week, we took a look at a pair of soft-tossing Triple-A right-handed pitchers, Mike Fiers of the Milwaukee Brewers and Josh Smith of the Cincinnati Reds. I could easily have included White Sox right-hander Scott Carroll in that article and I wish I had done so: he made his big league debut yesterday and thrived, pitching 7.1 innings against the Tampa Bay Rays, allowing six hits, two runs, two walks, and fanning three, picking up the victory. Here's my take.
Scott Carroll, RHP: Carroll was originally drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in the third round in 2007, from Missouri State University. He pitched decently in the lower levels of the system as an inning-eater type but never really stood out as a prospect. He had a rough season in Triple-A in 2011 (5.39 ERA, 89/47 K/BB with 186 hits in 145 innings for Louisville) and was pretty much written off as a prospect at that point. He converted to relief in 2012 but continued to struggle (5.90 ERA in 40 innings). He was released at mid-season, signed with the White Sox as a free agent, then moved into the starting rotation for Triple-A Charlotte and was suddenly more successful (3.78 ERA in 48 innings).
He promptly blew out his elbow in winter ball and missed most of 2013 recovering from Tommy John surgery. Carroll wrote about the injury and his rehab experience in this Chicago Now article.
Healthy again for 2014, he looked great in four starts for Charlotte before his promotion, with a 1.57 ERA in 23 innings, with a 13/9 K/BB and a 2.69 GO/AO ratio. From those numbers you'd expect him to be a strike-throwing sinkerballer and that's exactly what he is, working his sinker at 87-90 while mixing in a curve, changeup, and a few sliders. Throwing strikes and changing speeds are his keys.
With the exception of his high ground ball rates, Carroll's track record doesn't stand out sabermetrically and he hasn't drawn big praise from scouts. That said, you have to root for him. He's worked hard to get where he is, and while he is not a good bet for long-term success, any team should be happy to get some useful big league innings out of a guy who was signed to fill a Triple-A roster spot.