May 2, 2012; Toronto, ON, Canada; Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Joel Carreno (34) delivers a pitch against the Texas Rangers at the Rogers Centre. The Blue Jays beat the Rangers 11-5. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Checking in on former Toronto Blue Jays' pitcher Joel Carreno


joel carreno

Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Name: Joel Carreno

Team: New York Mets

DOB: March 7, 1987

Birthplace: San Cristobal, Dominican Republic

Height/Weight: 6’2”/200 lb.

Throws: Right

Transactions: Signed by Toronto on October 11, 2004 as an amateur free agent. Granted Free Agency November 5, 2013. Signed as a Free Agent with New York Mets.

There haven’t been too many moves made by Alex Anthoplous that I have taken issue with, but allowing Joel Carreno to walk as a free agent this past November is one of them.

Carreno doesn’t possess overpowering stuff, but has always possessed the aptitude for racking up strike outs while keeping the walks down. Carreno found success by consistently throwing a plus slider, but his other pitches are considered average. This caused scouts to view him as a one-pitch pitcher which was better suited for a bullpen role.

Arsenal 

  • Four-seam fastball at 89-92 mph with a slight cut
  • Slider at 77-83 mph with sharp break
  • Sinker/change up at 88-90 mph

Career

Carreno never got the attention one would expect for a guy who can strike out better than a batter an inning. Last season with Double-A New Hampshire, he allowed only 4.0 H/9 in 22 appearances. In Triple-A, he was nearly as stingy and allowed only 6.2 H/9 in 28 appearances.

From 2006 until 2011, Carreno was primarily used as a starter and made 104 starts over that span. In 2012, he split time between the rotation and the pen and made only 15 starts (7 in New Hampshire and 8 in Vegas). Like most that pitched in Las Vegas Carreno struggled mightily, which resulted in him starting the 2013 season back in New Hampshire for the third straight season. It would appear Carreno’s progress flat lined after making his major league debut in 2011 and finding his way back in 2012. It also appeared that management made up their mind concerning Joel’s ability to be a major league arm.

In November, Jay Blue wrote a nice piece about losing Carreno. In this piece, Blue had a conversation with New Hampshire’s pitching coach Tom Signore. In this conversation Tom Signore pointed out a couple adjustments that Joel made in 2013, adjustments to his fitness program and the use of his fastball. It could be these adjustments that allowed him to put up career numbers. I really appreciated Tom’s insight about Carreno’s versatility and previous experience in the majors. It is for this reason that losing him for nothing hurts.

Obviously, the New York Mets felt as strongly about his abilities as I do because Baseball America writer Ben Badler had this to say about the pickup,

“The Mets quickly snapped up righthander Joel Carreno, who could be one of the steals (a relative term, of course) of the minor league free agent class…. After striking out 25 percent of batters in his minor league career, Carreno’s strikeout rate jumped to 34 percent last year between Double-A New Hampshire and Triple-A Buffalo with a 2.43 composite ERA”

Potential Landing Spot

The Mets have invited Carreno to spring training with a chance to compete for a spot in their bullpen this year. Anthony DiComo from MLB.com included Carreno as being in competition for two open spots in the bullpen.

Final Thoughts

I never like to see talented players moved without getting anything in return. With Toronto’s bullpen depth be what it is I didn’t see Carreno being given a legitimate shot at contributing in 2014. I really hope that Carreno is able to impress this spring and secure a spot in their pen. I strongly believe that we haven’t heard the last of Joel Carreno. I am sure that one day, in the not too distant future, he will come into relieve Noah Syndergaard and be met at the mound by Travis d’Arnaud. 

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  • malna

    Every minor league system has at least 20 of these guys. Except maybe the mets, which is why they picked him up.