Carlos Carrasco is scheduled to pitch in relief today, and although officials consider him a long shot, bullpen success could point toward a means to break him in, and add quality to the ’pen, at a later date.
The consensus from officials is that the 20-year-old right-hander needs another season in the minors, but as one reader points out, it's not unusual for teams to groom touted pitching prospects through the ’pen.
"Earl Weaver used to do this with his pitching prospects, both [Johan] Santana and [Francisco] Liriano developed this way in Minnesota and currently Joba Chamberlain is doing it (and the Red Sox were going to do it with Clay Bucholz last year, but he got hurt),” writes Jack of our comments thread. “I really think it's a good way to break your young starting prospects into the Majors while limiting their innings and being able to closely control their development ... it seems to me like a creative way to control both your pitcher’s development and add some talent into your bullpen.”
Meanwhile, 27-year-old Francisco Rosario could be looked at in opposite terms. With Toronto, the hard-throwing right-hander started 89 of 110 games in the minors and was converted to relief as a way to break in. Injury problems have hindered his career, including time on the 60-day DL last season, but he has rebounded and appears to be in great position to make the team in relief. Only lately, he’s been given extended innings, not only this spring, but in the Dominican Winter League, where he started four regular-season games, going 0-0 with a 2.70 ERA, in addition to pitching six shutout innings during the Caribbean Series. Among the team leaders in innings already this spring, Rosario has allowed one run while striking out 7 in 5 1-3 innings.
Game chat: Cole Hamels makes his second Grapefruit League start today at 1:05 p.m. against the Tampa Bay Rays in St. Petersburg. Carrasco, Fabio Castro and Tom Gordon are also scheduled. Gordon will be looking to rebound from two poor appearances. [Live Boxscore]