After signing for $300,000 in 2003, the Phillies’ Carlos Carrasco was a major disappointment during his first two seasons. The nadir was 2005 when he went 1-7, 7.04 after opening the season with low Class A Lakewood and was demoted. Back at Lakewood this year, the 19-year-old Venezuelan has found his stride and has established himself as one of the better pitching prospects in the South Atlantic League. That dominance carried over into the postseason last night as the 6-foot-3, 180-pounder allowed one run over 7 1/3 innings with four strikeouts and two walks. Carrasco took some time recently to tell us about his newfound curveball, his experience at the Future’s Game and his distaste for American food.
Baseball America: You have been really dominant recently and seem to have come into your own. What do you attribute that too?
Carlos Carrasco: It’s the consistency of my pitches. I am able to pitch both away and inside. My curveball is very good right now and my changeup too. I got a great experience in the Futures Game and it has been unbelievable for me because last year was not good. This year is so much better.
BA: What was the problem last year?
CC: The command of fastball and changeup was just not good, and I didn’t have a curveball last year. The curveball I have right now is very good and I feel comfortable with it.
BA: Was there a moment or a game this year where the curveball clicked for you?
CC: Early on, I would not get on top of my curveball. I have been working with my pitching coach Steve Schrenk all the time, and now I am able to do it.
BA: When you were demoted last year, what was your reaction?
CC: I felt really bad, but it just wasn’t my year. This year I feel good because everybody knows me and I know them and they are good players too. It is a lot better than last year.
BA: What was the Futures Game like for you?
CC: It was just a great experience. To play in front of 25,000 people, oh my gosh.
BA: Were you nervous? How did you do?
CC: Nah, I don’t know nervous. The first pitch, maybe a little bit nervous. After the first pitch, I got my command and the last out (of the third inning). I don’t know who they were, they were all Double-A and Triple-A. The first hitter (Billy Butler) I threw a changeup and he got a base hit. The second hitter (Cameron Maybin) hit a ground ball to me, I couldn’t catch it though (and he was safe). The third hitter (Neil Walker) popped out to the catcher on my curveball.
BA: What is your goal this offseason in preparation for next year?
CC: Work out. After the season I go back to Florida for a month of instructional league. Then I go back to Venezuela to work out for next year and get ready for another level.
BA: You miss Venezuela during the season?
CC: Oh yes. I miss my food. Rice, chicken and beans. I have to eat hamburgers and hot dogs everyday here. I don’t get the rice and chicken that I like here.
BA: Do you ever cook for yourself?
CC: Sometimes with my friend (Orlando) Guevara, but it is more him cooking for me.