Tigers Prospect Profile #13: Josue Carreno

Carreno spent the 2011 campaign in West Michigan

Josue Carreno has grown in more ways than one since being signed as a 16-year old in Venezuela. As he's moved up the ladder in competition, he's also moved up in size, putting on 40 pounds to his frame. Despite the added size, Carreno continues to flash strong velocity and control.

Josue Carreno
Position: Right-handed Pitcher
Height: 6-1
Weight: 215
Born: 6/26/1991
Bats: Left
Throws: Right

Background
Carreno was signed as a 16-year old out of Venezuela in October 2007. Being signed after the season held Carreno back from making his professional debut until 2008 in the Venezuelan Summer League.

As a 17-year old in the VSL, he posted an impressive 2.82 ERA in 12 starts. He allowed just 35 hits in 54 1/3 innings, while walking only 15 and showing advanced feel and control for his age.

The Tigers kept Carreno in the VSL in 2009 and while he still logged 45 2/3 innings, he did miss time in the middle of the season with blister problems. Despite that, Carreno still allowed less hits than innings pitched, and walked only six batters all year; helping him post a 1.07 WHIP and a strikeout to walk ratio of over seven.

The organization brought Carreno stateside 2010 and held him in extended spring training until the New York-Penn League opened in late June. Carreno made 14 starts and logged a career high 64 1/3 innings that year. Though his walk total spiked to 33, he still struck out more than eight batters per nine innings and finished with a 4.76 ERA as one of only nine regular starters under 20 years old in the league.

Carreno moved on to the Midwest League in 2011 and received his first taste of the grind of a full-season league. In 24 games (23 starts), Carreno finished with a 4.55 ERA and just over a hit allowed per inning. His walk rate dipped from 4.6 per nine innings in 2010 to 3.0 in 2011 and his strikeout rate held steady at 8.3 whiffs per nine innings.

Scouting Report
Carreno has bulked up significantly since signing as a teenager. He has added over 40 pounds to his frame and is now an intimidating, barrel-chested presence on the mound.

His arm works exceptionally well despite the added bulk and with that added size has come additional velocity. His fastball now consistently works in the 90-91 mph range and touches as high as 94 with regularity. He has some life on his fastball and showed an increased ability to add sink to the ball in 2011.

When signed, Carreno stood out for his ability to command the fastball at a young age. His command as regressed as his body has changed, but he did make strides regaining his old form last year. Having seen a lot of Carreno over the last two years, I still project him for at least average to slightly above-average big league command in the end.

Carreno's upper-70s curveball flashes the potential of a swing-and-miss pitch. He often loses his release point with the pitch and can struggle to get over the top of it and add the requisite spin. When his feel for the pitch is at its best, it will show as an above-average to plus pitch that could be a weapon for him against advanced hitters.

Carreno also throws a change-up with good arm speed and some fade. I have only rarely seen the pitch flash as anything better than above-average but he shows enough feel for it at this stage of his career that it could still become an average pitch in time.

With further development of his three-pitch mix, Carreno could profile as a mid-rotation workhorse that can eat innings and keep his team in the game. If the command comes around and returns to prior form, then Carreno could really take off and become a serious threat in the middle f a big league rotation.

Performance

Level

Team

W-L

ERA

G

GS

SV

SO

BB

IP

WHIP

A

West Michigan

7-10

4.55

24

23

1

115

41

124.2

1.39


Health Record
Carreno handled his first full-season workload well in 2011 and he should get another crack at a full-season rotation in 2012. He has a durable body and no history of arm issues.

The Future
Even with what look like modest 2011 numbers, Carreno should be destined for the High-A Lakeland rotation on Opening Day. He will turn 21 in late June and will likely be one of the younger everyday starters in the league.

Carreno has progressed satisfactorily to date, but there are some scouts that believe he needs to show something significant in 2012 to continue earning potential mid-rotation grades. There are plenty of areas – change-up, curveball, command – where Carreno could improve in 2012, and his big league future will ultimately depend on the development of all three areas.

Carreno is still likely three full years from the big leagues and unless he surprises with a strong showing right out of the gate when he gets there, he could take a while to full crack the big league roster.

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