Split Decisions: Low K Rate Pitchers
Comparing Blackburn, Carrasco and Volstad
As part of our 19th annual Top 100
Prospects list, we present Split Decisions, where our prospect experts
explain why they favored certain players over others. Editors in chief
Will Lingo and John Manuel, executive editor Jim Callis and national
writer Chris Kline put together the Top 100 and defend their thinking. Here's a look at three righthanders who are bunched together in the rankings: Carlos Carrasco, Chris Volstad and Nick Blackburn.
I'll be honest, I don't know what to make of any of these guys. I put Carrasco first, mostly because he has shown more dominance than Volstad or Blackburn. But Carrasco was a lot more dominant in 2006 than he was in 2007. Blackburn's stuff improved significantly in 2007, but he still didn't blow guys away.
Volstad has the most intimidating presence, which might ultimately lead to him having the most career strikeouts in the long term. Great downhill angle, but all these guys are finesse pitchers. I worry more about Carrasco than Blackburn right now just in terms of secondary pitches, but he's also five years younger.
I think the age thing is a major separator for Volstad and Carrasco over Blackburn. Between the other two, I think Carrasco has the better pure stuff, and he at least has shown the capability to strike out a guy an inning, even though he didn't do it last year.
I think the staff is tired of me talking about Blackburn, who has the best fastball of this trio in terms of command, movement (his sinking, cutting two-seamer) and velocity (90-94 four-seamer). Volstad finished strong in '07 and won't ever dominate but should be an innings-eating middle-of-the-rotation guy. Carrasco needs to win me over and pitch more aggressively in '08.