Every Thursday, Swingin’ A’s will unveil a top Oakland A’s prospect. Starting from number 10 and finishing with number 1, be sure to stop by every Thursday to see who makes the list of the Top 10 Oakland A’s prospects. This week’s double-feature turns its focus now to Chris Carter, who lands in the No.7 spot in our list of Oakland’s Top 10 prospects for 2012.
Like Michael Taylor, Chris Carter will likely enter spring camp with an added sense of urgency. Carter, 25, has put together some strong minor league seasons together over his career, but transitioning over to the big league level has not been as easy for the youngster.
He posted 124 home runs between the years 2007-2010 and has demonstrated, on the minor league level, a real knack at putting a charge in the ball when he’s at the plate. Last year, though, Carter didn’t see as much playing time in the minors due to a thumb injury that had him miss two months of playing time.
In 75 games last year with the Sacramento River Cats, Carter managed to post a .274/.366/.530 slash line with 18 HR and 72 RBIs. On the flip-side, however, Carter still struggled with his strikeout rate last year in Triple-A. He struck out 24.7% of the time, while walking 12.2% of the time.
The strikeouts only got worse when he arrived in Oakland. In 15 games last year with the A’s, Carter’s K% rose to a whopping 43.5%, while his BB% dropped to 4.3% during his stint in Oakland. Those are, to the A’s and Carter, not very encouraging numbers for a player considered a “top” prospect.
It’s become increasingly frustrating to watch Carter in Oakland, as he’s a guy who should be helping out the Athletics’ weak, inferior offense right about now. Instead, he’s going to be fighting his way into a spot in Oakland’s lineup all spring.
Carter posted an ISO rate of .257 in 296 at-bats last year, but Oakland isn’t seeing any of that power carry over to the big leagues. True, Carter hasn’t spent a considerable amount of time on the big league stage, but how much longer will Oakland wait for their once-considered top-hitting prospect?
Competition will likely not be light for Carter this spring, so despite posting a career SLG percentage of .540 in the minor leagues, Carter’s success in the minors might not mean a thing. He’ll face Daric Barton and Brandon Allen for the first base opening, while facing some even stiffer competition when it comes to the team’s designated-hitter spot.
The A’s are figured to have plenty of options this year, especially if the rumors are true about the A’s wanting to sign free-agent slugger Manny Ramirez. Like Taylor, Carter’s chances at capturing a starting role with the club in 2012 hinder on whether or not he can show the organization what he’s capable of this spring.
The A’s already know what he can do on the minor-league level, that much we all know. He kills minor league pitching and has the “raw” power potential that a desperately hungry A’s team drools over. Carrying all that success to the major league level, though, has been Carter’s biggest problem.
If he can cut down on his strikeout rate, draw walks, and hits for power, Carter may have a future with the Athletics. Bottom line, we know what he’s capable of. However, if he stumbles out of the gates, Carter may find himself dweling in Sacramento…again.